[Brussels, 21 June 2018] On 9 June 2018, EWL members adopted five Emergency Motions at our annual General Assembly. These motions, put forward to the General Assembly by National Coordinations or European Wide Members, call on EWL and its members to take actions and position on a number of issues that are of strong importance to women’s rights. We adopted five emergency motions different questions, including on childcare, anti-feminist extremism and populism, women and girls impacted by the conflict in Syria and rape. Read all the motions below.
Availability of public childcare in Czech Republic: ban of kindergarten provision for children from two
The Czech Parliament is about to ban a provision guaranteeing public kindergarten places for all children from the age of 2. The Czech Republic (CZ) has the 2nd lowest participation rate of children below 3 in formal childcare in the EU. As a result, CZ has one of the greatest employment impact of motherhood and the EU‘s second-largest gender pay gap. Kindergartens are overburdened: up to 28 children in class supervised by one teacher. High in demand, many kindergartens accept children under 3. Removing the provision will result in reducing funding for improving kindergartens’ quality.
The lawful guarantee of childcare, enacted only last year, was come fully into force by 2020. The amendment proposed by Václav Klaus Jr., right-wing Civic Democratic Party MP and son of the former president, uses psychologists and pedagogues to highlight the alleged risks of early institutional childcare. The discussion frames mothers as exclusive providers of satisfactory care for children under 3. As a Chair, Klaus Jr. has full support of very influential parliamentary committee on education, representing all parliamentary parties. There is no other guarantee of public childcare provision planned.
The EWL will appeal to the Czech government and both chambers of the Parliament, requesting a provision guaranteeing public childcare for all children from the age of 2.
Reinforcing EWL’s position against anti-feminist extremism and populism
EWL has to be one of the organisations leading the opposition against the European extremist and populist parties or groups. Those movements are a major threat for women’s rights and gender equality.
Therefore, EWL reinforces its position and proposes a political feminist alternative based on a statement “The Europe we want”, which will be employed by EWL and its coordinations in their documents and actions, especially during the EWL’s campaign for European Parliament elections.
We have all noticed the development of anti-feminist extremist and populist movements all across Europe during the last decade. They have been growing tremendously in the last year, as evidenced by the result of the recent national elections, in Austria, Germany, Italy or Hungary.
The EWL will work on developing a position paper, called “The Europe we want”, on EWL’s feminist position against anti-feminist extremist and populist movements, outlining actions to take including as part of EWL’s new 50/50 campaign.
Continued instability means an increased and continued risk for women & girls
In light of the unending conflict in Syria and the growing list of refugees, especially women and children, and the increasing life threatening risks they face, the EWL calls on the EU to actively promote and support inclusive dialogue between the relevant parties to end the conflict, and especially emphasize the involvement of more women at the negotiating table and the integration of the gender perspective in the negotiations affirming their commitment for the implementation of UNSC Resolutions 1325 and 1820 as well as to the European Parliament’s Resolution 2000/2025 on the Participation of Women in Peaceful Conflict Resolution.
To-date over 5.6 million people have fled the Syrian conflict, and over 6 million have been displaced within the country, often multiple times. Two-thirds of those are women and children who have been exposed to serious risks including the challenge of gender-based violence and the lack of access to health care during their flight and in refugee camps and/or in neighbouring countries. With the continued instability of the power balances in the global arena - including the US pulling out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and Israel’s announcement of reading bomb shelters in the Golan Heights wary of reprisals from Tehran – the need to include women at every level of the crisis is crucial.
The implementation of Istanbul Convention about rape
We ask for the immediate and effective implementation of Article 36 of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, known as the Istanbul Convention, and for the European Commission to demand that all member states introduce into law, all non-consensual sexual acts, in particular rape, as a crime as outlined in section a) of article 36 of the Convention, which states: “engaging in non-consensual vaginal, anal or oral penetration of a sexual nature of the body of another person with any bodily part or object”.
The recent Wolf Pack Case in Spain (La Manada) highlights the importance of tackling this question urgently. The issue around the definition of rape can be uniform in all European countries, so it is key to pressure the European institutions and all countries, to adapt their legislation to reflect the social reality of this matter and to proceed with the full implementation of the Istanbul Convention, and the ratification where this has not happened yet, including by the EU.
Justice for rape survivors in the UK
EWL is gravely concerned about the human rights violations occurring in the UK, where survivors of sexual violence experience systematic barriers to justice. We call for an urgent gender-sensitive review of the criminal justice system in N. Ireland, the reversal of Crown Office policy in Scotland that would see rape complainers compelled to testify, the effective implementation of the National Violence Against Women Strategy in Wales, protection for the Human Rights Act, and adequate funding for rape crisis services.
Although rape is criminalised across the 4 nations of the UK, a range of recent cases have highlighted systematic injustices. A high-profile case in Belfast identified fundamental weaknesses with the NI criminal justice system that undermine complainers’ privacy, dignity and access to justice. The Crown Office in Scotland has introduced a policy that could see rape complainers compelled to testify against their will. A serial rapist in England was granted early release with inadequate risk assessment before the decision was reversed due to public outcry.