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2017 European Year of focused action to fight violence against women

February 3rd 2017

Equality Bodies taking a stand to combat violence against women!

2017 has been designated by the European Commission as the year dedicated to combating violence against women. Many equality bodies will be on the forefront of this work, carrying out projects aimed at developing and implementing practical and targeted information to combat violence against women, as well as awareness-raising and education activities.


  • One in three women in the EU has experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15;
  • 75 % of women in a professional job or in top management have experienced sexual harassment;
  • One in ten women has experienced sexual harassment or stalking through new technologies.

Gender-based violence is a brutal form of discrimination and a violation of the victim’s fundamental rights. It is both a cause and a consequence of inequalities between women and men.

Gender-based violence happens everywhere, in every society and EU country, regardless of social background, whether at home, at work, at school, in the street or online.

Not only does it affect women’s health and well-being, but it can hamper women’s access to employment, thereby negatively affecting their financial independence and the economy in general.

Find more on the description of gender-based violence here.

See also the European Institute for Gender Equality’s work on gender based violence for additional statistics and definitions.

What is the European Commission doing to stop violence against women?

Among other approaches, the European Commission:

  • protects women and children from gender-based violence through legislation and practical measures on victims’ rights;
  • raises awareness, by co-funding campaigns run by national governments, and supports transnational projects run by non-governmental organisations combatting violence against women, children and young people;
  • facilitates finding common solutions among EU countries, by organising exchanges of good practice;
  • develops knowledge about the phenomenon of gender-based violence;

For more information by the European Commission, see here and here.

Equality Bodies fighting violence against women

In 2016, the European Commission opened a call for proposals for action grants to prevent and combat violence against children, young people and women, under the Daphne scheme. We are happy that three of our members were accepted to implement their suggested actions to combat violence against women:

  • Ombudsperson for Gender Equality (Croatia): Judges and state attorneys from Croatia will be trained to address existing barriers to effective legal protection of women who are victims of violence.
  • Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson (Lithuania): Health care, social work and child care professionals in Lithuania will be trained to broaden their knowledge and awareness of violence against women, whilst victims will be empowered.
  • Commission for Citizenship and Gender Equality (Portugal): Education, social security, justice and security professionals from Portugal will learn how to recognise sexual violence as a form of violence in intimate relationships.

Read a summary of all winning proposals here.

These projects were amongst those being presented at the Maltese Presidency Conference on Violence against Women, taking place on 3 February, 2017. They were also referred to in the opening speech given by Commissioner for Gender Equality Vera Jourova.

A list of other equality bodies working on violence against women can be found in the European Directory of Equality Bodies.

Equinet focus on combating violence against women

As part of its 2017 Work Plan, Equinet is carrying out a project to Combat Violence Against Women and Gender Based Violence. The project will allow members to look at new challenges and opportunities presented by the EU’s proposed accession to the Istanbul Convention as it applies to equality bodies. Cooperation with international partners and civil society (such as the European coalition to end violence against women and girls) is foreseen. The project will run through 2017 and 2018 and aims to:

  • Take stock of equality bodies’ experiences in working with violence against women and gender based violence from the perspective of discrimination against women;
  • Explore the challenges and opportunities inherent in combining an equality and human rights mandate/perspective on this issue;
  • Contribute to the European agenda to combat violence against women.

The final aim of the project is twofold:

  • To build capacity, share experiences and explore challenges of equality bodies in working with violence against women.
  • To share the experiences of equality bodies in the field of violence against women with international partners.