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The European Women’s Lobby’s response to the EU Summit on Belarus: EU must ensure justice and democracy for Belarus women

[Brussels, 20 August 2020] Following the EU summit video conference of yesterday, the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) welcomes the EU leadership support to the Belarus peoples’ right to determine their own future and calls for immediate investigations and sanctions of women’s rights violations. The EWL also calls on them to ensure that women, like opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and those leading peaceful demonstrations, are invited to head the transition towards democracy. This must go with targeted financial support to women and women’s organisations in Belarus as per the €53 million financial support announced by the President of the European Commission yesterday.

The EWL is horrified by reports of arbitrary detentions, pseudo-trails, police brutality, sexual violence, repercussions especially towards women rights activists, journalists, human rights defenders, civil society organisations and workers who have come out in support of democracy since the presidential elections on 9 August.

Gwendoline Lefebvre, EWL President, said:

“The days of terror are over. Macho tactics have no place in democracy and the use of such tactics towards women is no longer tolerated throughout the world.

The EWL applauds the peaceful demonstrations of the women of Belarus, a powerful instrument for peaceful change and an end to violence.

The EWL urges the EU leaders to maintain pressure and to call for an independent international inquiry in addition to immediate implementation of sanctions towards those who committed violence against women and deprived them of their right to full and equal participation in political life as per the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women, ratified by Belarus in 1981.

The EWL strongly calls on the European Commission to ensure Belarus women and women’s organisations equally benefit from its financial support to victims of the repression and to vulnerable groups.”

Inete Ielite, Chair of the Board of the Women’s NGOs Cooperation Network, Latvia, says:

“Call of our Board to other EWL members to support women in Belarus to have their voices heard and be protected against abuse was answered in minutes by many other EWL members in the region and throughout Europe (in particular the Romanian Women’s Lobby, the Portuguese Platform for Women’s Rights, the Network of East-West Women in Poland, the Estonian Women’s Associations Roundtable, the International Alliance of Women and the European Network of Migrant Women amongst others). We call for a democratic Presidential election process, protection of female candidates as well as female campaigners and calls on the EU to support all the democratic actors and women’s organisations in Belarus.

Women’s NGOs Cooperation Network, Latvia has a long history of cooperation with women’s NGOs in Belarus, exchanging empowering experiences and practices for economic and political life in spite of the various barriers we face. Unfortunately, several attempts to cooperate in the last decade were not funded. We stand ready to help set mentoring for Belarus women’s NGOs and build the necessary women’s rights protection infrastructure - counseling, information, victim support and shelter services - but we need financial support from the European Commission and governments.”


European Women’s Lobby (EWL), founded in 1990, is the largest European umbrella network of women’s associations representing a total of more than 2,000 organisations in the EU coming together to campaign for their common vision of a Feminist Europe. The EWL has members in 26 EU Member States, three Candidate Countries (North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey), the United Kingdom and Iceland, as well as 17 European-wide organisations representing the diversity of women and girls in Europe. Together with our members, we aim to influence the general public and European Institutions in support of women’s human rights and equality between women and men.

The Women’s NGOs Cooperation Network, Latvia (WNCNL) since 2003 coordinates participation of Latvia women in national and international dialogue, safeguarding and promoting human rights of women, enhancing women’s participation in political and economic life. It also holds charity (organisation for the benefit for society) status. In 2017 WNCL was elected Head of Network of Anna Lindh Foundation. Women’s NGOs Cooperation Network contributes at the committees established by Prime Minister, ministries, large cities and international organisations. WNCNL is providing information, counselling, capacity building of members, organises events, campaigns, projects dealing with urgent societal problems.

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• Kami Tiba, Admin and Finance Assistant,

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