Press releases

Time for EU action to implement gender-sensitive humanitarian response, say women’s organisations

[European Women’s Lobby Press Release, Brussels, 2 June 2016]
Today, the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) unveils its #womensvoices recommendations on preventing and combating violence against refugee women and girls on the move. “From conflict to peace? Women’s and girls’ voices on the move” is a five-month project partnering the European Women’s Lobby and the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) and aiming to raise awareness on the situation of women and girls refugees in Europe.

Women and girls fleeing conflicts and travelling to or settling in Europe are at higher risk of suffering from male violence. On the way and in the centres, they face rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, from different perpetrators; they have to resort to prostitution in order to get access to food, housing or transport; they face domestic violence; girls are being sold for marriage or trafficked for sexual exploitation…

Based on field trip assessments, strategic meetings at national and European levels, and data collected on the ground by EWL members in different countries, the #womensvoices report calls for:

  • Comprehensive policies to end all forms of violence against women and girls in the EU and its member states, and specific measures to ensure that women and girls refugees and asylum seekers are protected and get access to justice.
  • A humanitarian response which succeeds in protecting women and girls from male violence and exploitation.
  • Gender-sensitive asylum policies and procedures to help women and girls to escape or denounce male violence and access to their full human rights.

“Our #womensvoices project and our recommendations are extremely timely: last week, leaders of the world came together at the World Humanitarian Summit and called for gender equality, women’s empowerment and women’s rights to become pillars of humanitarian action. Now is the time for action for Europe to implement a gender-sensitive humanitarian response!”, said Viviane Teitelbaum, President of the European Women’s Lobby.

Unveiled during the #womensvoices European Dialogue, a strategic discussion between women’s organisations and decision-makers, the EWL report comprises three advocacy tools for NGOs and institutions who want to bring change for refugee women and girls:

  • The “5 Ps framework to end all forms of violence against refugee women and girls” compiles concrete measures on prevention, protection, prosecution, service provision and partnership.
  • EWL check list “Implementing a gender-sensitive humanitarian response” gives a list of concrete aspects to implement to ensure that refugee women and girls are not at risk of violence.
  • EWL check list “Engendering the asylum systems” calls for specific actions to make sure that women and girls have access to the fundamental human right of asylum.

Marcy Hersh, from WRC, recently completed an assessment mission in Greece and Turkey on the effects of the EU-Turkey Agreement on women and girls. She shared her findings from Greece at the event today, saying: “Almost no sites were designed to mitigate the risks of gender-based violence (GBV), and there is limited assistance to GBV survivors or support for other vulnerable refugees, including children and pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.”

The EWL and its members called for a coordinated European action to build real peace for all women and girls in Europe and make sure that no one is left behind, a universal declaration enshrined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

To find out more:

Download here the PPT presentation of the #womensvoices project

The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) brings together the women’s movement in Europe to influence the general public and European Institutions in support of women’s human rights and equality between women and men. We are the largest European umbrella network of women’s associations representing a total of more than 2000 organisations in all EU Member States and Candidate Countries, as well as 19 European-wide organisations representing the diversity of women and girls in Europe.
EWL envisions a society in which women’s contribution to all aspects of life is recognised, rewarded and celebrated - in leadership, in care and in production; all women have self-confidence, freedom of choice, and freedom from violence and exploitation; and no woman or girl is left behind.



  • Elvira Buijink, EWL Communications and Press Officer, +32 2 210 04 40,
  • Pierrette Pape, EWL Policy and Campaigns Director, +32 2 210 04 28,

Latest video

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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