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Making women safe from fear, safe from violence – how the Istanbul Convention is helping to achieve full gender equality

Statement on the occasion of International Women’s Day 2017
Strasbourg 8 March 2017
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Making women safe from fear, safe from violence – how the Istanbul Convention is helping to achieve full gender equality

GREVIO seizes the occasion of International Women’s Day to recall the importance of the Istanbul Convention as the most comprehensive set of legally binding standards to ensure every woman’s right to a life free from violence.

GREVIO thus reiterates that the purposes and aims of the Istanbul Convention are to prevent all forms of violence against women, to protect and support victims, to prosecute perpetrators and to empower women through integrated policies. The Convention obliges states to ensure that measures taken in these four areas form part of a comprehensive and co-ordinated approach and encourages the participation of all members of society in achieving its ends. It is the first international treaty to define violence against women as a form of discrimination and to address it as a gendered phenomenon which women are exposed to for the simple reason that they are women. One of its ground-breaking features is the protection afforded to all women without any discrimination.

In this regard, GREVIO notes with concern the rise in misconceptions surrounding the Istanbul Convention related to the concept of gender. The debates that have emerged in some Council of Europe member states centre directly on the Istanbul Convention, criticising it for its supposed promotion of “gender ideology” and attacks on the notion of family. GREVIO underlines that it is violence which destroys the family and in this regard welcomes the observations and reflections set out in the 3rd Quarterly Activity Report 2016 of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights:  

Gender as defined in the Istanbul Convention is “the socially constructed roles of men and women”. GREVIO supports the view that the criticism of gender creates barriers to women’s human right to live a life free from violence. It is a reflection of the root causes of violence against women: the stereotyping of women, the notion of the superiority of one sex over the other, and the inequality between women and men.

Statement of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe on the occasion of the International Women's day, 8 March 2017


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