EWL News

EP seminar sees MEPs committed to end violence against women, but no concrete answer from the Commission and EU Presidencies. NGOs continue to mobilise for an EU Year and action.

[Brussels, 24 November 2011] Three political groups within the European Parliament (GUE/NGL, Greens and S&D) came together on Wednesday 23 November in order to organise the public seminar ‘Ending violence against women. The EU must act now’.

MEP Mikael Gustafsson, Chair of the EP Committee on Women’s rights and gender equality opened the seminar by emphasising the demands for EU action that were established in the report adopted on April 5 2011 (Svensson 2011/0127) including:

  • An overarching strategy to end all forms of violence against women
  • An EU directive against violence against women, including specific measures related to prevention, prosecution and protection, and service provision.
  • Increased funding for actions against violence against women
  • A European Year on zero tolerance against violence against women.
  • Increase support and funding for women’s shelters and groups working to end violence against women.

Experts and NGOs were invited to present their views and demands about ending violence against women in the EU. Lakshmi Puri, UN Women Deputy Executive Director, Cécile Gréboval, Secretary General of the EWL, Penelope Cooper, Regional Director, Europe Region of the World Association of Girl guides and girl scouts (WAGGGS) and Rosa Logar, Women Against Violence Europe (WAVE), all made the same comments: they stressed on the urgency of an EU strategy to raise awareness on violence against women carrying out different measures: considering it as a priority policy issue, working with young people, providing public funds to projects addressing violence against women… According to them, the most important measure should be the adoption of an EU directive against violence against women that will be the elemental key point to combat violence against women.

In response, the representative of the European Commission, Ms. Daniela Bankier, clearly said that the European Commission is not going to develop any strategy or directive on violence against women, therefore confirming worries shared by many women’s organisations. Representatives of Poland, Cyprus and Denmark said that the issue is important and that they will engage in some activities, but there was no sign of a concrete strategy to be developed under their Presidencies.

The EWL will continue in any case to advocate for EU comprehensive action to end violence against women, which is the most widespread human rights abuse within the EU. On the same day, the EWL issued a press release pointing out to the fact that the lack of EU action on gender-violence is compounding the effect of the crisis on women. ‘It is hard to believe that we are once again spending the International Day on Violence against Women recalling how gender equality is a founding and fundamental value of the EU, not a luxury for times of growth. Things are getting worse. The time to act is now’, said EWL Secretary General Cécile Gréboval.

The EWL has initiated a broad advocacy movement calling for an EU Year and EU Action to End Violence against Women. This Coalition is now being supported by many MEPs, who’ve joined the call for a Europe free from violence against women.

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