At last, European Union commits to end violence against women

On 11 May 2017, the European Union (EU) publicly declared its intention to sign and ratify the Istanbul Convention. The Istanbul Convention is the common name for a Council of Europe Convention from 2011 aiming at combatting violence against women and domestic violence. It addresses different forms of violence against women, through measures aimed at preventing violence, protecting victims, and prosecuting the perpetrators.

It is the first legally binding treaty in Europe that criminalises different forms of violence against women.

With this declaration, the EU sends the world a message about its commitment to fighting the violation of women’s rights. This decision is 22 years in the making: back in 1995, countries all over the world (including EU Member States) committed to take measures to prevent and eliminate violence against women by signing up to the international human rights instrument known as the Beijing Platform for Action.

Even though it took 22 years, women’s organisations need to be proud of this achievement. Activists all over Europe, including members of the European Women’s Lobby (EWL), have worked intensively to ensure that violence against women is considered a top priority on the political agenda. It is time to recognise their outstanding contribution in the fight to end violence against women and girls and protect all victims of male violence.

This year, EWL is marking the 20th anniversary of the establishment of its Observatory on violence against women and girls. The Observatory is a unique structure that brings together more than 30 experts, professionals, women’s rights defenders, and front-line civil society activists, from all over Europe. For the last 20 years, the EWL Observatory has a played key role advising our organisation about the reality of violence against women in the EU and resourcing EWL’s advocacy messages and demands.

Building on its work on tackling bias violence, Social Platform has joined forces with EWL and a European coalition of more than 25 civil society networks to call on the EU to ratify, implement and invest in the Istanbul Convention, while acknowledging and tapping into the expertise of women’s organisations. You can add your voice by signing this petition!

By Joanna Maycock, Secretary General of Social Platform member the European Women’s Lobby.