EWL News

EWL and EU Girls’ Week: addressing sexuality education, sex trafficking and gender budgeting

[Brussels, April 2017] Besides the 8th of March and the 25th of November, there is a third important date for women’s human rights: October 11 is the International Day of the Girl. Last year, the EWL tool part in the European Week of Action for Girls, a yearly European activity initiated by a coalition of eight civil society organisations working on topics linked to gender equality, girls and women’s empowerment and/or children’s and youth rights, notably in development cooperation and humanitarian settings.

From 10 to 16 October, the European Week of Action for Girls consisted of a week-long event taking place in Brussels and aiming to raise awareness of and advocate for girls’ rights and empowerment to be at the heart of the EU’s external and internal action. EWL was active and contributed with its expertise and membership-based experience to the work of the coalition: sexuality education, sex trafficking and gender budgeting. Thanks to the presence in Brussels of our youth network Youth4Abolition, we could bring the voices of young feminist women at EU level, and raise awareness of EU decision-makers on the reality of sexual exploitation in Europe.

2016 EWAG theme: invest in girls!

The 2016 theme of the European Week of Action for Girls was gender budgeting. The coalition issued an advocacy paper, “EU gender budgeting: investing for impact”, which proposes a number of changes that the EU should make to its overall budgeting practices in order to implement its commitments and make the best use of its resources to empower girls and protect their rights, before focusing more specifically on EU external action and particularly EU development cooperation. Read here an article of Euractiv about the Week and gender budgeting.

In the Girls’ rights Gazette 2016, you can find an article about gender budgeting from EWL member Viviane Teitelbaum. The Girls’ Rights Gazette is a unique publication which makes girls’ rights front page news. It intends to inform readers of the barriers girls still face in the realisation of their rights, while demonstrating the transformative power empowering girls has on poverty reduction and sustainable development worldwide. In 2016, it features articles by Plan International CEO Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica, Director General of UNFPA Babatunde Osotimehin and many more, including girls themselves.

Being a girl isn’t child’s play: Help them climb the ladder!

To mark the International Day of the Girl Child on October 11, a life-size game of snakes and ladders was placed at the entrance to the European Parliament. The game highlighted the obstacles that girls all around the world face in their everyday lives, as well as what the EU can do to empower these girls and improve gender equality around the world, particularly through its development cooperation policy. EU decision-makers were invited to express their support to girls’ human rights: Neven Mimica, European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development; Iratxe Garcia-Perez, MEP and Chair of the FEMM Committee; Malin Björk, MEP; Dagmar Schumacher, Director of the Brussels Office of UN Women; Helle Thorning-Schmidt, CEO of Save the Children International.

snakes and ladders Game

Youth voices for a feminist and comprehensive sexuality education

The EWL, together with IPPF-EN, organised a participative workshop on sexuality education and sustainable development that brought together key stakeholders, policy-makers and young people to discuss the importance of comprehensive and feminist sexuality education programmes and their impact on sustainable development.

The workshop started with a briefing session on comprehensive sexuality education and EU policy on cooperation for development. See the full prezi presentation and EWL-IPPF-EN briefing paper.

The exchange part of the session was introduced by IPPF EN Director, Caroline Hickson and Joanna Maycock of the European Women’s Lobby, followed by Emmanuelle Le Texier, Policy Advisor for the S&D group, Flora Geley, DEVCO B2, Civil Society and Local Authorities, and Pascale Maquestiau from Le Monde selon les femmes, who presented their work on sexual and reproductive rights and sexuality education.

The young participants were asked to reflect on the opportunities and challenges faced by young people’s access to quality sexuality education programmes. One of the strongest conclusions was that sexuality education is a key tool to promote empowerment and gender equality as well as a matter of women’s rights. Furthermore, sexuality education is fundamental to combat sexism and gender stereotypes and to prevent different forms of violence against women and girls. Therefore, sexuality education is a key enabler for sustainable development.

panel discussion "24 Horas"

Mobilising to end sex trafficking and prostitution of girls and women

On Monday 10 October, the EWL organised the screening of “24 Horas Nuevas Chicas”, a documentary about sex trafficking between Spain and Latin America. In partnership with GrupoSur, CIFCA, Espace Genre de la Maison de l’Amérique Latine, Mujeres Mundi, the event took place at the Instituto Cervantes and was followed by a discussion with the film director Mable Lozano and MEP Ines Ayala Sender. The documentary shows the benefits for the business of trafficking and prostitution, and the strategies to extend and maintain the exploitation of women and girls including transforming exploitation into entertainment. Mabel Lozano explained that many girls disappear and become invisible: “nobody sees them; only the men who buy sex from them”. In some villages in Peru or Columbia, there is no school, but a puticlub. Several media attended the evening, and issued press articles which help to raise awareness and convey the message of the documentary, including the links with sexuality education. See below.

Earlier in the day, the members of Youth4Abolition met with MEPs to discuss the reality of sexual exploitation and prostitution in Europe, and ask for their support to #EndDemand.

Press coverage:

New Girls 24 hours, Café Babel (in English) (In Spanish here, in French here)
Chicas nuevas 24 horas: un grito contra la trata, Aquí Europa
El dinero de la trata no vuelve a América latina, está en Europa, Aquí Europa
La cosificación de la mujer latinoamericana, DW
Educación sexual es clave para combatir trata de blancas: activista, 20 minutos

#notforsale meps & Youth4Abolition oct 2016

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Loud and United to end violence against women and girls, European Women’s Lobby Conference, 6 December 2017, Brussels.

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