Over the years, the Council of Europe's activities to promote the cause of women have taken a number of forms, such as legal measures, mobilising public opinion and training and research.

One of the main threads running through all these activities is the principle that there can be no lasting solution to the social, economic and political problems of society unless women are fully involved in the process.

Women's status, real equality, emancipation, sexually-related violence, the problem of women and disability and human trafficking are just some of the other aspects around which the Council of Europe has developed activities, such as awareness campaigns, all of which are intended to bolster legal equality of the sexes and make it a reality.

In 2009, women made up on average 28.6% of government ministers in Europe and 21.7% of members of parliament. This is slight progress compared with the 19.9% of women ministers in 2005, but there has been no change in their representation in national parliaments. Besides, the figures remain well below the 40% minimum recommended by the Council of Europe.

International Women’s Day 2019 International Women’s Day 2019
Statement by Timo Soini, Chair of the Committee of Ministers, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland
Presidency of the Committee of Ministers Strasbourg 8 March 2019
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Timo Soini. Photo: Laura Kotila, valtioneuvoston kanslia

Timo Soini. Photo: Laura Kotila, valtioneuvoston kanslia

“I feel honoured to be able to celebrate the International Women’s Day in the framework of the Finnish Presidency of the Committee of Ministers”, said Timo Soini, Chair of the Committee of Ministers and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland. “The 8th of March serves as a reminder that we need to speak up for women’s and girls’ rights every day of the year; it is a day to celebrate the extraordinary accomplishments of women and girls and to denounce any form of discrimination, violence and harassment against them”, he added.

Minister Soini stated that: “Harassment and hate speech towards women and girls weakens their ability to exercise their rights and pursue opportunities. These human rights violations need to be eliminated completely.”

The Minister appealed to all stakeholders in society to respect women’s and girls’ rights and to make sure they have equal space and voice at the decision-making table.

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Did you know that... Did you know that...

... International Women's Day is a public holiday in several European countries, including Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Azerbaijan and Armenia?