2018 edition 2018 edition
Statement by Karen Ellemann, Minister for Equal Opportunities of Denmark, on behalf of the Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers
Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers Strasbourg 8 March 2018
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Karen Ellemann

Karen Ellemann

This year the International Women’s Day is taking place against a strong background of global action in favour of women’s rights, equality and justice.

Denmark is proud to contribute to these efforts in the framework of its chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.

The Council of Europe has just adopted a new Gender Equality Strategy 2018-2023, to help progress towards de facto gender equality at all levels and in all areas. Denmark will host the launching conference of this new strategy, entitled “Gender Equality: Paving the way” in Copenhagen on 3-4 May 2018. One of the Chairmanship’s objectives is to strengthen gender equality work in the Council of Europe with a particular focus on how to involve more men in promoting gender equality.

We appeal to all member States to turn the current momentum into action, to bridge gender gaps and structural barriers in order to achieve full empowerment of every girl and woman.

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2017 edition 2017 edition
Council of Europe Strasbourg 8 March 2017
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Fighting violence against women is not about “gender ideology” or breaking families

In a statement published today, the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO) expresses concern about misconceptions surrounding the Council of Europe’s Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.

As noted in the statement: International Women’s Day reminds us of the importance of the convention as the most comprehensive set of legally-binding standards to ensure every woman’s right to a life free from violence.

At issue is criticism that the convention promotes a nefarious “gender ideology” or that it attacks the notion of family.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

It is gender-based violence that destroys family. And there is no ideology in the fact that the vast majority of victims of sexual violence are women and girls.

Stalking, sexual harassment, sexual violence (including rape), physical, and psychological abuse at the hands of intimate partners, forced marriage, female genital mutilation and forced sterilisation are traumatising acts of violence, and our convention works to uphold the basic human right of living without such violence.

“Our convention should be a top priority for all because violence against women breaches basic human rights,” Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland stresses.

The Istanbul Convention (so known, because it was opened for signature there) works because it is so broad in scope. It requires, for example, funding for rape crisis centres, 24/7 helplines, domestic violence shelters, and counselling for domestic abuse victims. It ensures education on healthy relationships in schools. It requires strong prosecution tools against perpetrators, as conviction rates for rape, for example, are often far lower than for other crimes.

With already 22 ratifications, the Istanbul Convention is the first international treaty to define violence against women as a form of discrimination – and to address it as a phenomenon which women are exposed to for the simple reason that they are women.

Today is international women’s day. But every day, both men and women must work towards ending gender-based violence. 

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2016 edition 2016 edition
Statement by the Secretary General
Secretary General Strasbourg 7 March 2016
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Europe must stop violence against women and sexist hate speech

Ahead of tomorrow’s International Women’s Day, Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland salutes an EU initiative to join the Istanbul Convention, and calls on member States to prevent sexist hate speech.

“I welcome the European Commission’s initiative to join the Istanbul Convention,” he said. “This will be a major step in our efforts to end violence against women and domestic violence. It will help create a coherent European system to combat this outrageous crime which is still widespread in Europe today."

The Istanbul Convention is a unique, legally binding treaty that criminalises violence against women in all its forms. It seeks to prevent violent acts, protect and support victims and prosecute perpetrators. It provides a mechanism to monitor implementation of the convention, including an independent expert group (GREVIO). (more...)

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8 March - International Women's Day

2015 edition 2015 edition
Secretary General and Deputy Secretary General: "Violence against women won’t stop until we eliminate gender inequality"
Secretary General and Deputy Secretary General Strasbourg 7 March 2015
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International Women's Day

Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland and Deputy Secretary General Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni today made the following statement to mark International Women's Day, which is celebrated every year on 8 March:

“Across the world, International Women's Day gives us an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women while calling for greater gender equality. We are encouraged to see some positive developments such as more laws criminalising domestic violence and other forms of violence against women.  Or the fact that more countries are ratifying the Council of Europe’s award-winning and standard setting treaty the Istanbul Convention – 16 to date – to counter such violence.

And yet gender stereotypes and overtly sexualised images of women continue to feed into violence against women. A widespread sexualisation of women’s bodies contributes to treating women as subordinate members of society, and such stereotyping negatively affects how women are treated and perceived by institutions and society alike.

As we celebrate the 8th of March, the Council of Europe and the Belgian authorities are co-organising a panel on “Gender stereotypes and sexism – Root causes of discrimination and violence against women” at the 59th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York on 9 March.  This event highlights our work in combating gender stereotypes and sexism, and presents important Council of Europe standards in that regard, including the Istanbul Convention, Committee of Ministers’ Recommendations on gender equality and media and gender mainstreaming in education, and good practices from member states.

Abolishing negative gender stereotypes and sexism is essential to achieving gender equality. Gender inequality is also the root cause of violence against women. We call on men to speak out on 8th March, to play their part in promoting gender equality and ending violence against women. Let’s abolish gender hierarchies, violence and discrimination against women - and let’s ratify and implement the Istanbul Convention without delay”.

Press release

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8 March - International Women's Day

Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention)

Opened for signature in May 2011, the Istanbul Convention is the first legally binding instrument in Europe to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence. In terms of scope, it is the most far-reaching international treaty to tackle this serious violation of human rights. Preventing violence, protecting its victims and prosecuting the perpetrators are the cornerstones of the Convention, as is the requirement to co-ordinate any such measures through comprehensive and integrated policies. The Convention covers victims from any background, regardless of their age, race, religion, social origin, migrant status or sexual orientation.

The Istanbul Convention was drafted in Europe, but is not meant for Europe only. Any state can accede to it or use it as a model for national and regional legislation and policies. The Istanbul Convention will enter into force following its ratification by 10 countries. An independent group of experts (GREVIO) will monitor the implementation of the Convention.

2014 edition 2014 edition

International Women's Day: Statement by Deputy Secretary General

Strasbourg, 7 March 2014 - On the occasion of the International Women's Day, the Deputy Secretary General, Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, published the following statement:

“Women are suffering more than men from austerity policies: Gender Equality is at stake and it should be strengthened during these turbulent times. The right to fair remuneration, recognising the concept of equal pay for work of equal value, enshrined in article 4 of the European Social Charter (Revised), should be implemented and not just considered a principle. The gender dimension is key to fostering equal opportunities, fighting stereotypes and avoiding discrimination that might also lead to violence against women”.

Press release

2013 Edition

‘The promise to end violence against women is a commitment which must be honoured', says PACE President, Jean-Claude Mignon

"8 March is an auspicious annual occasion for all those involved in promoting women's rights. This year the event will have the theme of ‘A Promise is a Promise: Time to Act to End Violence against Women'.

The Council of Europe has a major instrument at its disposal, namely the Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, also known as the Istanbul Convention. This is the first binding text combining all the necessary ingredients: preventing violence, protecting victims, prosecuting those responsible and implementing integrated policies.

The promise to end violence against women is a commitment which must be honoured. The Istanbul Convention provides states with the means of doing so. On 8 March I shall be appealing to Council of Europe member and non-member states, if they have not yet done so, to sign and ratify the Istanbul Convention.

Ending violence against women is the main theme of the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women from 4 to 15 March 2013 in New York. I shall be representing the Assembly Parliamentary of the Council of Europe at this meeting, alongside a host of other members. It will be an opportunity to reiterate this appeal to all states.”


Women's participation at all levels of public life is a democratic requirement, says Congress President Herwig van Staa

"We must promote and implement gender equality at all levels of public life so as to ensure genuine democracy," said Herwig van Staa, President of the Congress, on the occasion of International Women's Day on 8 March 2013. "This requirement has been enshrined in the Congress Charter, which provides that women must make up at least 30% of all national delegations – and many delegations now actually go much further than that, thereby confirming our belief that it is vital to have a legal framework which ensures women's participation", he continued, before referring to the resolution and recommendation entitled "Achieving sustainable gender equality in local and regional political life", in which the Congress encourages women to become candidates and stand in elections.


Deputy Secretary General addresses UN Commission on Status of Women in New York

On 4 March, Deputy Secretary General Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni addressed the UN Commission on the Status of Women, to promote the Istanbul Convention as an efficient and practical tool for governments to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence. The Convention was drafted in Europe, but is not meant for Europe only. Any state can accede to it or use it as a model for national and regional legislation and policies. High-level bilateral meetings are also on the agenda of her two-day visit to New York.

A side event on the Convention’s added value will be organised by the Council of Europe and the French Permanent mission to the UN, with the participation of: Gilbert Saboya Sunyé, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Andorra and Chairman of the Committee of Ministers, Jean-Claude Mignon, President of the Parliamentary Assembly, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, Minister for Women’s Rights and Government Spokesperson of France, and Lakshmi Puri, Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Deputy Executive Director of UN Women.


Council of Europe and the French Permanent mission to the UN organise a side event "Violence against Women: our concern, our response"


Time for action to end violence against women

Violence against women is an issue which concerns all countries in the world. It touches women from all walks of life, irrespective of cultural, religious, economic, social or geographical backgrounds.

It happens everywhere: in the "safety" of their own homes, at work, in the streets and in the media among others. Every day, women are stalked, harassed, raped, mutilated, forced by their family to enter into a marriage, sterilised against their will or psychologically and physically abused. The examples of violence against women are endless, its victims countless. Many women are too afraid or ashamed to seek help, often paying for their silence with their lives. Those that do speak out are not always heard. With the adoption of the Istanbul Convention in 2011, the 47 member states of the Council of Europe made an important step towards the recognition of their responsibilities in addressing this concern.

 

2012 Edition

  • Gender equality is central to the societies we must build, declares Secretary General

"Promoting equality between women and men must be at the heart of everything we do," asserted Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland. "We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace unless women acquire the same opportunities as men to influence developments at all levels of society," he said. (more...)

  • Arab Spring: PACE President says ‘no democracy without respect for women's rights'

In a statement to mark International Women's Day on 8 March, the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Jean-Claude Mignon, has said there can be no democracy without respect for women's rights.
He launched a message of support and encouragement to all women living in the new democracies emerging from the Arab Spring. "Women, who were on the front line of the uprisings against authoritarian regimes, must also be on the front line when it comes to the running of public institutions, political decision-making, being able to vote and stand for elections," said Jean-Claude Mignon. (more...)

  • Interview with Swedish EU Minister Birgitta Ohlsson
  • Strasbourg dialogues : "Women played a role in the "Arab Spring"… What next?"

With the participation of Souhayr Belhassen, President of the International Federation for Human Rights (more...)

 

2011 Edition

A decade to end inequality

  • "We must use the second decade of the 21st century to make equality between men and women a reality," says Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland (more...)
  • Women are underpaid all over Europe, says the Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg (more …)

 

2010 Edition

  • Declarations

- The Chair of the Committee of Ministers and the President of the Parliamentary Assembly call for a stronger participation of women in politics (more...)

- Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland calls on states to do more to eradicate discrimination against women (more...)

- "Rulings anywhere that women must wear the burqa should be condemned - but banning such dresses here would be wrong", says Thomas Hammarberg, Commissioner for Human Rights (more...)

  • Focus

- On the occasion of the International Women's Day 2010, the Gender Equality Division of the Council of Europe publishes a comparative study on balanced participation of women and men in political and public decision-making. Report ''Parity democracy - a far cry from reality''.

- In order to mark the 60th anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights, the Council of Europe is highlighting the Court's case-law and its impact on legislative developments in Europe on the International Women's Day. The main judgments of the Europe Court of Human Rights.

- Women's professional progress, the impact of feminism and the fight against male gender privilege are discussed by an international panel in the latest ''Viewpoint'' programme. Sweden’s EU minister Birgitta Ohlsson also features in the programme.

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