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Gender equality is an important policy goal of the Council of Europe. Priority areas of intervention are defined by the Gender Equality Strategy 2018-2023 and working methods include intergovernmental work, cooperation projects and gender mainstreaming.

 At a glance


Migrant women’s rights

According to the World Migration Report 2022, there are some 281 million international migrants leaving their home countries in search of safety or opportunity. Nearly half of these are women and girls leaving because of conflict. They often face gender-based violence and discrimination. Gender inequalities in countries of origin and in countries of destination have an impact both on how women and girls experience migration and on the migration process itself.
Migrant women and girls face the intersecting realities of migration and being women. This needs to be taken into account in all migration, integration and asylum policies and programmes.

In response to this problem, the Council of Europe adopted in 2022 a Recommendation on protecting the rights of migrant, refugee and asylum-seeking women and girls.  This recommendation brings together the provisions of existing international standards that can best ensure the empowerment of migrant, refugee and asylum-seeking women and girls and the protection of their rights. To promote these issues, a side event to the 67th UN Commission on the Status of Women, on 7 March 2023, highlighted the specific challenges and needs of migrant, refugee, and asylum-seeking women. It outlined the existing legal framework, including relevant provisions of the Istanbul Convention. A paper on Articles 60 and 61 of the Istanbul Convention regarding gender-based asylum claims and non-refoulement, available in different languages, also provides further guidance on these topics.

Large numbers of women and children are fleeing the war in Ukraine and the Council of Europe stands ready to assist member States in managing the challenges involved, in line with the Recommendation. Donor governments and organisations may support this programme by contacting the Directorate of Programme Co-ordination.

For more information on the Council of Europe’s action as regards migrants and refugees, in particular women and girls, please visit the webpages of the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Migration and Refugees as well as the dedicated page of the Gender Equality Division.  

Stop sexism

In March 2019, the Committee of Ministers adopted the Recommendation CM/Rec(2019)1 on preventing and combating sexism: it calls for specific action in respect of language and communication; internet and social media; media, advertising and other communication methods; workplace; public sector; justice sector; education institutions; culture and sport and the private sphere. It is currently available in 26 languages as well as in the English and French official versions. 

An action page and a brochure give concrete guidance regarding the implementation of the Recommendation.

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