Protecting rights of migrant, refugee and asylum-seeking women and girls: Council of Europe recommendation adopted
20 May 2022, Turin, Italy
The Committee of Ministers has adopted a new recommendation to protect the rights of migrant, refugee and asylum-seeking women and girls providing measures to better respond to needs and challenges that they face. Part of the Council of Europe Action Plan on protecting vulnerable persons in the context of migration and asylum in Europe (2021-2025), the recommendation furthermore provides guidance to member States regarding women’s needs in terms of social services, employment, education and participation, to ensure that public policies fully contribute to the integration and empowerment of migrant, refugee and asylum-seeking women and girls. Welcoming the adoption, Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić stressed how crucial it was to acknowledge that women and girl migrants, refugees or asylum-seekers have particular needs and circumstances which should be considered at all stages of the migration process.
Conference on “Work-life balance - a leverage for women’s empowerment and promoting gender equality”
12 April 2022, Rome, Italy and online
The event was organised by the Italian Minister for Equality Opportunities and Family and the Council of Europe under the aegis of the Italian Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The aim was to foster a broad debate on effective measures to achieve work-life balance, prevent gender-based discrimination and overcome social and cultural obstacles. These measures should support career choices and paths through flexible, dynamic solutions compatible with activities in the personal, private and family sphere. The scene was set with opening addresses by Benedetto Della Vedova, Italian Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Elena Bonetti, Italian Minister for Equal Opportunities and Family, Claudia Luciani, Council of Europe Director of Human Dignity, Equality and Governance, and Helena Dalli, European Commissioner for Equality.
The Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić underlined that to achieve gender equality, men should make more effort to promote equal pay for equal work and work of equal value, but the average gender pay gap remains at 13% (EU-27, 2020). The Secretary General also made a statement on the war in Ukraine: “We face the sombre fact that war is always associated with distinct forms of violence against women and girls. As they try to escape conflicts, women and girls become even more vulnerable, threatened by violence, sexual assault, and rape. Women and girls fleeing the conflict require specific support and protection.” The Chair of the Committee of Ministers, Luigi Di Maio, made a statement: “In these past few months, […] we decided to include the promotion of women’s empowerment and the struggle against gender discrimination among our priorities and we are unrelentingly working to primarily promote the Council of Europe Istanbul Convention, the most advanced international instrument to prevent, combat and punish gender-based violence.”
Council of Europe Side event to the UN Commission on the Status of Women
During the 66th Commission on the Status of Women, the Council of Europe organised with the Italian Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe an online side event on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education as a stepping-stone towards gender transformative climate change policies. The event was co-sponsored by Austria, the United Kingdom and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Speakers included Elena Bonetti, the Italian Minister for Equal Opportunities and Family, ministers from Austria and the United Kingdom, representatives of the Council of Europe and UNESCO, civil society and academic specialists on the topic.
Draft guidelines on the place of men and boys - work begins
The Working Group on the place of men and boys in gender equality policies and in policies to combat violence against women held fruitful discussion during its first meeting on 31 March. The Working Group was established by the Gender Equality Commission further to its mandate given by the Committee of Ministers to draw up by the end of 2022, Guidelines on “The place of men and boys in gender equality policies and in policies to combat violence against women”.
Gender Equality Commission (GEC) holds its 21st plenary meeting
The GEC held its plenary meeting from 11 to 13 May 2022, in Strasbourg and online. GEC members had the opportunity to exchange with the President of the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO). The impacts on women of the war in Ukraine were also addressed in an exchange with a representative from the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, and the Director of the NGO La Strada-Ukraine. The GEC discussed its ongoing and future activities under the six priorities of the Council of Europe’s Gender Equality Strategy.
The Campaign Sexism: See it. Name it. Stop it! aims at raising awareness about the causes of sexism and its various forms, and at identifying ways to prevent and combat it. The action page on sexism, recently translated into Czech, is now available in 23 languages. The brochure is now available in 6 languages following its recent translation into Azerbaijani.
Webinars on the Istanbul Convention in Azerbaijan: what does it really say?
Joint European Union/Council of Europe Action on “Raising awareness of the Istanbul Convention and other gender equality standards in Azerbaijan”
In 2021, the project delivered a series of webinars dedicated to specific articles of the Istanbul Convention. In the words of one participant: “I believe that Azerbaijan should join the convention, because it is a very comprehensive document for protecting women’s rights and fighting against violence. When I familiarised myself with the text of the convention, I saw that it indeed covers all spheres where violence against women is happening”. A video was which helps viewers understand what the Istanbul Convention really says.
Conference on ending violence against women in Tbilisi - Time for action
Project “Promoting an integrated approach to end violence against women and enhancing gender equality in Georgia”
On 25 March 2022, the Embassy of Italy in Tbilisi and the Office of the Council of Europe in Georgia in co-operation with the Government of Georgia organised a conference aimed at raising awareness and fostering action to end violence against women and girls. The conference was an opportunity to take stock of the progress achieved by Georgia in its implementation of the Istanbul Convention, to discuss the remaining challenges and possible targeted actions to strengthen women’s rights. The speakers highlighted the need to continue with the efforts to develop and implement measures aimed at ending all forms of violence against women.
Expert delegation visits Kosovo* to assess the alignment of its measures with the Istanbul Convention
Project ‘’Reinforcing the fight against violence against women and domestic violence in Kosovo* – Phase III’’
A Council of Europe delegation of independent experts visited Kosovo* from 21 to 25 February 2022. This visit was a key step in the co-operation activity aiming at assessing the alignment of Kosovo* with the Istanbul Convention. In September 2020, the National Assembly of Kosovo* adopted an amendment to the Constitution that gave direct effect to the convention. The above co-operation activity follows the methodology of the GREVIO, and will culminate in the publication of an assessment report in the course of 2022, offering a tailor-made roadmap for strengthening the response to violence against women and domestic violence. On 11 May, the project held a roundtable on violence against women in its digital dimension.
The Council of Europe continues to support Ukraine in efforts to combat violence against women
Project “Combating violence against women in Ukraine” (COVAW)
In the light of the war in Ukraine, in May 2022 adjustments to the COVAW project were made, in agreement with Ukrainian authorities, in order to reflect needs expressed by stakeholders and assessed as urgent by the Council of Europe. All new activities fall under Intermediate Outcome 1 of the COVAW project: Awareness raising. Five new outputs have been developed, including expanded support for local NGOs to protect and promote women’s and girls’ rights, awareness raising support to the National Social Service of Ukraine, support for gender-sensitive reception procedures and support services for women on the move, and countering violence against women and domestic violence in emergencies. The Council of Europe will further support ongoing efforts to raise awareness regarding the Istanbul Convention in Ukraine.
Multi-country programme opens for voluntary contributions
Ending violence against women: multi-country programme
The Istanbul Convention aims at putting an end to the many different forms of violence against women, to address the difficulties in getting protection and support, and the obstacles women face in seeking justice. However, it has been the target of criticism based on deliberate misrepresentations and misunderstandings about its aims and standards. In this context, the multi-country programme was conceived to generate knowledge and tools for the benefit of all States, whether or not they are Parties to the Istanbul Convention. It is open for voluntary contributions from member states or other sources.
Discontinuation of the project in Russian Federation
Project “Cooperation for the implementation of the Russian Federation National Action Strategy for Women: applying best practices”
On 16 March 2022, at its 1428ter meeting, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted Resolution CM/Res(2022)2 on the cessation of the membership of the Russian Federation to the Council of Europe. As of that date the Russian Federation ceased being a Council of Europe member state. Projects implemented by the Council of Europe Programme Office in Moscow are discontinued. The office will not be maintained.
1st Steering Committee of the project in Türkiye, HELP course and awareness-raising activities on equal access to justice for women
EU/CoE Joint Action on “Fostering women’s access to justice in Türkiye”
On 31 January 2022, the first Steering Committee meeting of the joint project was held in Ankara with the participation of representatives of the Union of Turkish Bar Associations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Delegation of the European Union to Türkiye, and three civil society organisations. HELP Training-of-Trainer’s sessions took place on 14 and 15 February 2022 for 30 participants from Turkish universities, bar associations and NGOs. On 29 March 2022, a kick-off event to launch the HELP course on “access to justice for women” was organised for legal professionals. 270 legal aid lawyers from four bar associations undertook the course, raised their awareness on gender-sensitive legal practices. On 8 March 2022, a grant agreement that will strengthen access to legal aid for women was signed between the Council of Europe and the Union of Turkish Bar Associations. On 18 May 2022, the project also held the first of a series of multi-stakeholder meetings in the province of Ordu. Four civil society organisations were awarded grants to increase women’s legal awareness.
The digital dimension of violence against women and protecting displaced women and girls when crossing borders
Council of Europe’s co-operation with the EEA and Norway Grants
On 10 March 2022, the EEA/Norway Grants’ SYNERGY Network held a conference focusing on the digital dimension of violence against women. Building upon the first General Recommendation on the implementation of the Istanbul Convention, it focused on the ways to combat online and technology-facilitated violence. Given the fastest-growing refugee flow in Europe since World War II, how can refugee, migrant and asylum-seeking women and girls be protected from abuse, violence and exploitation when crossing borders? This was the central question at the 30 March 2022 Conference of the SYNERGY Network, through an accompanying video. The aim of the conference was for receiving countries to discuss and share experiences regarding the refugee flow from Ukraine and to build upon earlier experiences.
2nd training of mentors on women’s access to justice
21-23 June 2022, Budapest, Hungary
Regional project "Women’s access to justice: Delivering on the Istanbul Convention and other European gender equality standards"
The innovative mentoring programme for legal professionals on women’s access to justice developed, within the regional project, the aims at enhancing the continuous learning of the justice sector practitioners, specifically judges and prosecutors on guaranteeing equal access to justice for women and men in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. A total of 25 judges and prosecutors from the judicial training institutes of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Republic of Moldova will strengthen their competences on women’s access to justice and key gender equality standards in a 3- day training course of mentors. Through discussions, cases studies and interactive experiential methods, the participants will become conversant with the mentoring methodology and will be able to bridge the gap between the theoretical international human rights and gender equality standards and actions that prosecutors and judges can take in their daily work. The event will be conducted by two Council of Europe experts, Zora Csalagovits and Elisabeth Duban. The experts combined their expertise on access to justice and educational methodologies to provide a step-by-step training course on what it means to be a mentor in a legal environment, and how to facilitate the development of a gender-sensitive justice system by strengthening the value and attitudes of peer legal professionals.
*All reference to Kosovo, whether to the territory, institutions, or population, in this text shall be understood in full compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo.
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