Women’s Rights and Gender Equality

The fulfilment of the human rights of women is still lagging in Europe. Discrimination on the grounds of gender and sex remains widespread and has been further exacerbated by the economic crisis and ensuing austerity measures adopted in some European States, which have impacted on women disproportionately.

Women’s rights are also threatened by the resurgence of reactionary trends targeting women who try to move out from the subordinated role in which they have been kept for centuries. Another issue of concern is the intensification of hate speech against women in Europe, especially on the Internet. Discrimination and hate speech against women provide fertile grounds for violence against women, which is one of the most extreme human rights violations suffered by women. The response of national authorities, including the police, prosecutors and judges, remains inadequate in a great number of cases of violence against women.

Progress has been made in recent decades in a number of areas. The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence has entered into force for a number of member states and the Council of Europe Gender Equality Strategy 2014-2017 is well in place. However, much more needs to be done to make gender equality and the fulfilment of women’s rights a reality. The Commissioner for Human Rights has therefore put the human rights of women and the fight against discrimination on the grounds of gender and sex firmly on his agenda.

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Positions