PES ministers for gender equality stand together against gender-based violence

05/11/2020

PES ministers for gender equality

PES ministers for gender equality, Commissioner Dalli and MEPs meeting by videoconference

Gender-based violence is intolerable and a human rights violation which has no place in a Union of Equality, progressive ministers stated today as they adopted a declaration calling for urgent action to step up efforts to fight gender-based violence, including ratifying the Istanbul Convention.

The PES ministers convened ahead of an informal meeting of gender equality ministers, organised by the German Presidency, taking place on 20 November.

PES Ministers from Germany, Portugal, Luxembourg, Malta, Finland and Belgium declared in the adopted text:

“For our governments, combatting gender-based violence is high on the agenda. Over the past months, many EU governments, including our own, have worked together with support services, NGOs and other actors to develop digital solutions to help affected women in lockdown, provide temporary shelter, or train emergency services, pharmacists and other personnel to recognise and assist victims.

“Gender-based violence is a shadow pandemic, but it is not a new phenomenon. The COVID-19 crisis has simply aggravated an already unacceptable problem. We, the PES ministers for gender equality and women’s rights, say enough is enough.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a dark time for all. But for many women, lockdown and confinement has cast another shadow: increased gender-based violence. Even before the pandemic, 1 in 3 women experienced physical and/or sexual violence (since the age of 15 years), half had been harassed, and hundreds died every year at the hands of a family member, intimate partner or ex-partner. Now, COVID-19 measures mean many women are trapped at home with their abusers – reports of domestic violence are increasing in many countries.

The PES ministers strongly condemned the right-wing backlash against women’s rights, including the spread of disinformation about the Istanbul Convention and attempts by some Member States to withdraw from it.

PES Women President Zita Gurmai said:

“The Istanbul Convention is the strongest international instrument available to ensure uniform protection from gender-based violence. Not ratifying the Convention is turning a blind eye to all affected women and girls and failing to protect and support them.

“In addition to ratification, we need proper implementation of anti-violence policies on the ground – we need earmarked money for combatting violence to be part of the EU COVID-19 response, digital strategies to fight online violence, initiatives to fight toxic gender stereotypes and narratives, and better data collection. Ratifying the ILO Convention 190 on combatting violence and harassment at work and making gender-based violence an EU crime would also send a strong signal that the Union is taking this issue seriously.”

In the meeting, the participants also discussed the proposal of the German Presidency for a Europe-wide phone number for national violence against women helplines.

PES Women will mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25 November) with a social media campaign and will host an online conference “Women Striking Back – Putting an end to gender-based violence” on 8 December.

The meeting was attended by:

  • Zita Gurmai, PES Women President
  • Helena Dalli, European Commissioner for Equality
  • Franziska GiffeyFederal Minister of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, Germany
  • Tytti Tuppurainen, Minister for European Affairs and Ownership Steering, Finland
  • Taina Bofferding, Minister for Equality between women and men, Luxembourg
  • Rosianne Cutajar, Junior Minister for Equality and Reforms, Malta
  • Rosa Monteiro, Secretary of State of Citizenship and Equality, Portugal
  • Heléne Fritzon, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group Vice-President
  • Maria Noichl, Member of the European Parliament, S&D FEMM coordinator