Gender Equality Strategy

At a glance

Gender Equality Programme



Gender Equality


Fighting violence against women must become a top priority

[29 July 2014] On the eve of the entering into force of the Istanbul Convention the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights issued a statement entitled “Fighting violence against women must become a top priority”. In his statement the Commissioner refers among others to the findings of the recent Analytical study of the results of the 4th round of monitoring the implementation of Recommendation Rec(2002)5 on the protection of women against violence in Council of Europe member states. Read more....  

News from Member States - Poland

The 6th Congress of Women in Poland took place in Warsaw from 9-10 May 2014 and focused on “Equality in Business”. For more information watch a short film from the Congress here.  

“Combating Gender Stereotypes in and through Education” - 2nd National Focal Point Conference, Helsinki, Finland, 9-10 October 2014

Education is a recognised basic human right and the promotion of gender equality in education is a prerequisite to the achievement of de facto equality between women and men in all spheres of life. The Gender Equality Commission has defined non-stereotyped education and gender mainstreaming throughout the education system as one of its key priorities. This issue has also been taken on board by the Council of Europe in its Strategy on Gender Equality and will be the focus of the 2nd annual conference of the National Focal Points. Conference website  

Conference “Guaranteeing equal access of women to justice” (15-16 October 2015, Bern, Switzerland)

Bern The Swiss Federal Office for Gender Equality and the Council of Europe Gender Equality Commission are organising this event in 2015. Please block the dates in your diaries and check regularly this website for further information. Read more.....


Protect women’s rights during the crisis

protect women rights during crisis[10/07/2014 - Source: CoE - Commissioner for Human Rights]

Women and men entered the economic crisis on an unequal footing. The crisis and resulting austerity measures have hit women disproportionately and endangered the progress already made in the enjoyment of human rights by women. A gender-sensitive response is necessary to halt and reverse this trend.

Female poverty on the rise

In most of the countries affected by the economic crisis, an increasing feminisation of poverty has been observed. A study conducted in 2013 on access to food banks in France revealed that the primary beneficiaries were women between 26 and 50 with at least one child. This is emblematic not just of the vulnerability of lone parent families, but also of the gender implications of the crisis. In Europe there are on average 7 times more lone mothers than lone fathers. Moreover, as indicated by Eurostat, “single women over 65 are at substantially higher risk of poverty than single men of the same age”. Continue reading →  

Violence against Women, the Council of Europe response

[19/03/2014] On 19 March 2014, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe held the Thematic Debate on “Violence against Women, the Council of Europe response”. All speakers acknowledged the importance and value of measures undertaken by the CoE to support member states in their efforts to prevent and combat violence against women, and in this context, highlighted the significance of the Council of Europe Strategy on Gender Equality (2014-2017) and the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention) as the only legally-binding instrument in Europe and the most far-reaching international treaty to tackle violence against women. Well targeted co-operation and synergies with other regional and international organisations, in particular EU, UN Women, OHCHR, OAS and OSCE, have raised the visibility of the Council of Europe work in the area of gender equality and protection of women against violence and led to widespread acceptance of the Istanbul Convention as a global tool to tackle gender-based violence.

The Analytical Study of the results of the 4th round of monitoring the implementation of Recommendation Rec(2002)5 on the protection of women against violence in Council of Europe member states was made available to the participants. The study provides a comprehensive overview of the situation in 46 out of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe with regard to measures to tackle violence against women and domestic violence, and provides a valuable source of information for all those involved in preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.

Council of Europe Highlights in 2013 - Gender Equality and Violence against Women

2013 was a year rich in activities and achievements for the Council of Europe Trasversal Programme on Gender Equality. The adoption of the Council of Europe Strategy on Gender Equality (2014-2017) marked an important step in advancing the Organisation’s efforts to achieve de facto gender equality and support the implementation of standards in member states. The Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women (Istanbul Convention) has become known to wider audiences within international organisations, governments, civil society organisations and the general public … read more

Secretary General of the Council of Europe: Ratify the Council of Europe’s convention on violence against women

[25/11/2013] On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Secretary General Jagland encouraged states to ratify the Council of Europe’s convention on violence against women. Read more....

Secretary General welcomes multiannual gender equality strategy

Strasbourg, 13 November 2013: Addressing the Gender Equality Commission at its 4th meeting in Strasbourg, Secretary General Jagland today welcomed the elaboration of the multiannual gender equality strategy, recently adopted by the Committee of Ministers, and said he was impressed by the Gender Equality Commission's achievements with regard to six ambitious objectives:


  • 26 of 28 steering committees and three monitoring bodies have now appointed Gender Equality Rapporteurs to ensure that the gender dimension is given due consideration in their work;
  • A visible and influential Network of National Focal Points in the area of gender equality has been established;
  • Co-operation with partner organisations has been further developed, for example around the promotion of the Istanbul Convention;
  • Support has been provided to countries in neighbouring regions;
  • With 25 signatures and six ratifications (seven when Austria ratifies tomorrow), we should feel proud and reassured about the way the Istanbul Convention is gaining ground and recognition in Europe and beyond;
  • and concerning gender equality within the Council of Europe secretariat – the percentage of women at senior management level has increased from 30% (2011) to 43% in 2013. Women at middle management level are now 30% (28% in 2011). A gender-mainstreamed analysis of our recruitment and selection processes has been conducted by an independent expert to identify and address possible bias and gender stereotypes in our current practices.

Link to speech

Photo gallery 

Accelerating progress towards gender equality: the Council of Europe strategy for 2014-2017

Although the legal status of women in Europe has improved during recent decades, effective equality is far from being a reality. Even if progress is visible (educational attainment, labour market participation, political representation), gender gaps persist in many areas, maintaining men in their traditional roles and constraining women’s opportunities to affirm their fundamental rights and assert their agency. The most pronounced expression of the uneven balance of power between women and men is violence against women, which is both a human rights violation and a major obstacle to gender equality.

On 6 November 2013, the Committee of Ministers adopted the Council of Europe Gender Equality Strategy for the period 2014-2017 [link to Strategy].

The overall goal of the Strategy is to achieve the advancement and empowering of women and the effective realisation of gender equality in Council of Europe member states. The Strategy sets five strategic objectives:

  • Combating gender stereotypes and sexism;

  •  Preventing and combating violence against women;

  • Guaranteeing Equal Access of Women to Justice;

  • Achieving balanced participation of women and men in political and public decision-making;

  • Achieving Gender Mainstreaming in all policies and measures.

The Strategy emanates from an unprecedented mobilisation in the Council of Europe through its new Transversal Gender Equality Programme. It presupposes that all Council of Europe decision-making, advisory and monitoring bodies should support and actively contribute to its implementation. The Committee of Ministers has invited the Gender Equality Commission to follow closely the implementation of the Strategy and asked the Secretary General to report annually on progress achieved.

Thorbjørn Jagland: Women's role in society is "strongest transformative force" in the world today

On the occasion of International Women's Day, Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland paid tribute to the increasing role that women are playing in societies worldwide. From politics to business and their role in achieving peace, he described women’s role in society as the "strongest transformative force in the world today." The Secretary General, however, warned that women "still earn less, decide less and they are more often than men victims of violence". Jagland called upon governments to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) and to promote gender equality.
Video message of the Secretary General