Ms Zita Gurmai (Hungary, SOC), General Rapporteur on Violence against women and coordinator of the Network
Dear members, colleagues, friends and followers of the Network,
It is my great pleasure to introduce this newsletter, which will allow us to keep you up to date on our latest activities, publications and upcoming events. We hope it will be a useful go-to resource for the latest developments regarding the Istanbul Convention’s ratification and implementation, as well as for finding relevant documents adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly and its international counterparts.
Since 2006, the Network has been a crucial parliamentary platform for ending gender-based violence, and since 2011, it has actively campaigned for the ratification and effective implementation of the Istanbul Convention. As the Convention foresees a real hands-on role for parliaments in monitoring implementation, the Network provides its members with information, expertise and practical tools to further this process.
This year has been particularly difficult because of the Covid-19 pandemic and its devastating impact globally. Beyond the obvious negative consequences of the spread of the virus for all of us, the measures taken by countries to avoid the saturation of health services and slow contagion, such as lockdown, curfews and restrictions on public gatherings have had a dramatic impact on women at risk of violence of all kinds. The Network’s major objective in these unprecedented circumstances has been to keep the topic of violence against women high on the agenda of political leaders.
Moreover, in recent months we have seen the Istanbul Convention become something of a “political football”, with several governments threatening to withdraw from the treaty and ultimately, from the safeguards it provides to women living within their borders. We will continue to defend the convention, which is considered by many as the “gold standard” in the fight against violence against women.
The Network and its members continue to work towards a future free from violence against women. Several online meetings are foreseen until the end of this year, and more are foreseen in 2021. We appreciate your continued support and wish you well at this difficult time.
10 November: webinar on violence against women in sport The Network’s next online meeting on 10 November 2020 will include a webinar on “Preventing and combating violence against women in sport”, in the framework of the preparation of a report by Mr Killion Munyama (EPP/CD, Network member for Poland) on “The fight for a level playing field – ending discrimination against women in the world of sport”. The webinar aims to raise awareness of the importance of preventing and combating violence against women and girls in sport, and participants will be able to exchange experiences and good practices, as well as making proposals for progress.
With panellists from different sport-related areas, the webinar will be introduced by Ms Zita Gurmai, General Rapporteur on violence against women and Coordinator of the Network.
The webinar will be broadcast live on Facebook. Network members will receive a KUDO link to participate in the meeting with the possibility of asking questions directly to the panellists. See the event flyer here.
14 December – online meeting of the Network The Network’s online meeting on 14 December 2020 will feature a presentation of the revised Handbook for parliamentarians on the Istanbul Convention, as well as a hearing.
The hearing will be broadcast live on Facebook. Members of the Network will receive a KUDO link to participate in the meeting.
The revised handbook for parliamentarians on the Istanbul Convention is now available in English, French, Italian, Russian and German. Parliamentarians across the political spectrum and from all political systems, regardless of whether their country has already ratified or has yet to ratify the Istanbul Convention, can use it as a practical resource. It aims to increase parliamentary knowledge about the convention and to support parliamentarians across Europe in playing an active role in promoting ratification and implementation. Examples of how parliamentarians can use their legislative oversight and other functions to help end violence against women and domestic violence are included.
Equality and non-discrimination webinar series Since the spring, the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination and the Network have organised several webinars, broadcast live on the Network’s Facebook page. Discover them now or watch again on PACE’s YouTube channel:
Equality and non-discrimination reports Petra Stienen’s report (Netherlands, ALDE) on “Upholding human rights in times of crisis and pandemics: gender, equality and non-discrimination” was debated during the 2020 October Standing Committee, leading to the adoption of PACE Resolution 2339 (2020). The report highlights the worsening gender-based violence observed during the pandemic: “Reports and statistics of authorities, police, women’s rights organisations, service providers, parliaments and international organisations pointed towards an alarming rise in cases of violence against women”, due to “increasingly drastic confinement measures”. The additional risks faced by vulnerable groups such as women with disabilities, migrant, refugee or asylum-seeking women are also underlined. Read the full report and watch the video of the debate here.
How are member states progressing with implementation of the Istanbul Convention? For a comprehensive analysis, check out the latest report by the Council of Europe Expert Group on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO) on the implementation of the Convention in Belgium, for instance.
On 25 September, the National Assembly of Kosovo* decided to apply the Istanbul Convention. Read the news here.
In November 2019, the European Parliament called on the European Union to accede to the Istanbul Convention and on all EU member states to ratify the convention. In its Resolution on “EU accession to the Istanbul Convention and other measures to combat gender-based violence” it stresses that “the EU must take all necessary measures, in cooperation with its Member States, to promote and protect the right of all women and girls to live free from violence, in both the public and the private spheres”. The call is reiterated in August 2020, in the report on Gender Equality in EU’s foreign and security policy by the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality. The European Union signed the Convention on 13/06/2017, but has yet to ratify it.
25 November is International Day for the Elimination of Violence against women and marks the beginning of “16 days of activism against gender-based violence”. This year’s theme is "Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!", and parliamentarians are invited to organise activities in their parliaments. Stay tuned on the Network’s Facebook page as well as @PACE_Equality on Twitter!
On the occasion of the Day of the Girl Child on 11 October, Ms Béatrice Fresko-Rolfo (Monaco, ALDE), then General Rapporteur on Violence against Women and Coordinator of the Network, issued a joint statement with Baroness Doreen Massey (United Kingdom, SOC). The statement calls on “all parliaments to combat the emerging backlash against the rights of girls and women observed in many areas and in many countries”.
Check out the latest video by the Interparliamentary Union on “Violence Against Women: What can parliaments do to protect women?”. In 2018, PACE and the IPU conducted a joint study on Sexism, harassment and violence against women in parliaments in Europe, which inspired the #NotInMyParliament initiative in 2019.