"According to WHO estimates, 1 in 3 women in the world has already been exposed to physical or sexual violence in her lifetime. With the health crisis and lockdown implemented in several countries to curb the spread of Covid-19, this violence has followed the progression of the virus," stated Jelena Drenjanin (Sweden, EPP/CCE), Congress spokesperson on Gender Equality, on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, on 25 November 2020. "In April 2020, in Europe, emergency calls from victims or women threatened by their partners increased by 60% compared to April 2019. In fact, the Covid-19 pandemic is an indicator of the extent of this scourge, which has always persisted regardless of socio-economic backgrounds," the spokesperson said.
"Violence against women is not only physical or sexual. It is also found in the political sphere through sexism that prevents them from accessing political representation," she underlined, referring to the report "Combating sexism against women in politics at local and regional level", which will be debated for adoption at the Congress Statutory Forum on 7 December 2020. In the framework of its co-operation activities in Ukraine, the Congress has also recently published a Guide on preventing and combating sexism at local level for women and men in local politics, available in English and Ukrainian.
"As local and regional authorities, we can make a difference on the ground, closer to citizens, by helping coordinate the prevention of violence, structure assistance to victims and promote women's participation in public life," said the spokesperson. "In the context of the current crisis, we must take into account the risks of violence against women in our strategies to fight the pandemic at all levels of governance," she concluded calling for supporting UNESCO's "Orange the World" campaign and the "16 Days of Activism" initiative against violence against women.
In a recommendation and a resolution adopted in 2009, the Congress calls for a comprehensive legislative framework and policies, awareness-raising campaigns and specialised support services for victims. It also supports the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, known as the Istanbul Convention, the first legally binding instrument at European level. Furthermore, the Congress actively supports efforts to achieve gender equality and empower women and girls at local and regional levels, in line with Objective 5 of UN Agenda 2030.