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8 March 2022: Calls from the Portuguese Platform for Women’s Rights


We live in uncertain and painful times, marked by the pandemic crisis of COVID-19 and its consequences and by armed conflicts that drag on intolerably, such as that of Yemen, or that have erupted violently, such as that of Ukraine, dramatically aggravating the living conditions of women and children. The Call for Peace in Europe launched by the Portuguese Platform for Women’s Rights on February 15 already has around 400 signatures from organizations and individuals.

We know that even when fleeing war-ridden territories, women and children do not always find safety on the way they travel and on arrival in the host countries. Feminists from Ukraine and neighboring countries have reported the disappearance of women and children who end up in the hands of organized trafficking groups for the purpose of sexual exploitation. They have also reported sexual violence, including rapes, occurring in the territories occupied by external warring forces.


UN data in 2021 on violence against women and girls in countries experiencing armed conflict are alarming:[i]

  • 2,500 reported cases of sexual violence against women and girls related to armed conflict in 2020 in 18 countries;
  • More than 70% of the parties suspected of committing or being responsible for these atrocities were identified by the UN five years ago without any action having been taken;
  • Sexual violence against children increased by 70% in 2020 compared to 2019;
  • In Yemen many pregnant women cannot have safe access to medical care, and 1 woman dies in childbirth every 2 hours;
  • Women make up 52% of the 82.4 million displaced people worldwide, and up to 56-57% in Sudan, Mali, Ukraine and Chad; [ii]
  • Women and girls are kidnapped or trafficked, by parties to the conflict and by criminal groups organized in conflict scenarios: globally, for every 10 victims of trafficking, 5 are adult women and 2 are girls.

Further attacks on the human rights of women and children include surrogacy. There are several public accounts of Portuguese couples who resorted to surrogacy in Ukraine, without any information being provided as to the whereabouts of the gestating women. [iii] We emphasize: Women’s bodies cannot be purchased, no matter the context or circumstances!


2022[iv] marks the 22nd anniversary of the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution No. 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. This Resolution frames the impact of conflicts on women and children. It also draws attention to the role of women in preventing and resolving conflicts and building and maintaining peace. It is a historic resolution that calls on governments to include women in all peace and security processes, particularly in decision-making.

  • Overall women occupy only 25.5% of parliamentary seats (and even less so - 19% - in conflict and post-conflict countries) and only 36% of locally elected offices (26% in conflict-affected countries); [v]
  • In 2020 only 28.6% of peace agreements included provisions on women and girls; [vi]
  • In the United Nations peacekeeping missions, in 2020, women were 5% of the military forces, 14% of trained police units, 18% of the observers and military officials; [vii]
  • Between 1992 and 2019, women made up an average of 13% of negotiators, 6% of the mediators and 6% of the signatories of the largest peace processes in the world. [viii]


The absence of women in decision-making has obvious connections with the persistent inequalities, discrimination and violence that befall them.

In Portugal, despite the (improperly designated) Parity Law, we found that in 2022 the number of women elected to Parliament fell to 37,2% , below the parity threshold (2019: 38,7%.) This means the disparity between women and men in the national legislative decision-making process has widened.
In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and the particular toll it inflicted on women, and anticipating a serious deterioration in the living conditions of all women and children as a result of the conflict in Europe, the Portuguese Platform for Women Rights has shared with the Secretary-General of the Socialist Party, and expected future Prime Minister, the main points of the agenda that we would like to see fulfilled:

  • A parity government, so that the vision, rights, needs, and interests of women are adequately represented, and because such a government would serve an important pedagogical function, in a country where women face daily structural discrimination that results in femicide, sexist violence, impoverishment and disrespect for their rights;
  • Creation of a Ministry for the Promotion of Equality between Women and Men. We have an exceptional combination of favorable circumstances: a majority in Parliament and a forthcoming substantial financial package. Creating such an institution would be a consequent, effective, transformative political measure, granting it autonomy for consistent interventions, in both positive and transversal action, political and financial power, time and resources appropriate to an exclusive focus on its mission, and a permanent visibility to public opinion;
  • Effective integration of equality between women and men in the allocation of state financial resources: State budget 2022, Resilience and Recovery Program, and the next programming period of Structural Funds;
  • Strengthening public policies aimed at eliminating all forms of male violence against women and girls; taking particular account of the times in which we live, we call in particular for an increased effort in combating trafficking in women and children for the purpose of sexual exploitation, coupled with public policies aimed at supporting women’s exiting the system of prostitution – prostitution is inseparable from trafficking in human beings;
  • Strengthening public funding for women’s associations: many of these associations provide essential services to peace and inherent social cohesion, supporting survivors of male violence.


According to available information, the European Commission is likely to publish on March 8 the European Directive on Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, a relevant progress to ensure (some) safety for women and girls. We expect the EU to move further and ratify the Istanbul Convention! This is a crucial step to provide legal support for additional and essential measures for the elimination of all forms of male violence against women and girls.

Learn about the various initiatives of the Portuguese Platform for Women Rights and its member organizations around the International Women’s Day #IWD2022 here.

[i] Fonte: Women, peace and security. Report of the Secretary-General. 27 September 2021.
[ii] It is expected that in 2022 the figures will change, in particular those relating to Ukraine, due to the imposition of Martial Law.
[iii] Público, 03.03.2022 “Casais portugueses com problemas para resgatar bebés nascidos de barrigas de aluguer na Ucrânia”
[iv] October 2022
[v] Source: Ibidem.
[vi] Source: Ibidem.
[vii] Source: Ibidem.
[viii] Source: Council of Foreign Affairs, Women in Peace Processes.

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EWL event "Progress towards a Europe free from all forms of male violence" to mark the 10th aniversary of the Istanbul Convention, 12 May 2021.

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