The Council of Europe calls on member states to step up gender equality efforts.
In its annual review of its Gender Equality Strategy, the Council of Europe takes stock of the progress made by members states to promote women’s rights and gender equality.
The Council of Europe launched its first ever Transversal Programme on Gender Equality in 2012 with the aim of increasing the impact and visibility of gender equality standards and supporting their implementation in member States and within the Organisation itself. The Programme mobilises all of the Council of Europe’s sectors, intergovernmental structures, monitoring mechanisms and partial agreements as well as its external partners and thus brings resources together for greater impact, energy and focus.
The most tangible result of the Transversal Programme is the first Council of Europe Strategy on Gender Equality 2014-2017 that was unanimously adopted, in November 2013, by the Committee of Ministers. The Strategy builds upon the strengths, specificities and added value of the Council of Europe and proposes a vision and framework for the Council of Europe’s role and action in the area of gender equality.
The overall goal of the Strategy is to achieve the advancement and empowering of women and hence the effective realisation of gender equality in Council of Europe member States. To this end, the Strategy promotes a holistic and integrated approach to gender equality and provides policy guidance and support to Council of Europe member States, as well as internal institutional bodies and mechanisms to tackle old and new challenges in implementing standards in the area of gender equality.
The Strategy sets five priority areas:
To assess progress in the implementation of the Strategy, the Gender Equality Commission is requested to regularly take stock of results achieved and prepare an annual report to be brought to the attention of the Committee of Ministers.
The first ever Council of Europe Strategy has allowed the Organisation to focus its response to the challenges and opportunities faced in the implementation of key gender equality standards both within the Council of Europe and in its member States.
It has energised and accelerated work on narrowing the gap between de jure and de facto gender equality, as well as brought together resources for greater impact across the organisation, through its gender mainstreaming pillar.
All sectors of the Council of Europe are increasingly seeing the importance of mainstreaming gender into their work and activities, whether it is in the area of human rights, justice, fighting corruption, sport, internal oversight, films and film industry, or drug policies.
The Transversal Programme on Gender Equality has gained visibility, influence and authority in promoting and implementing gender equality standards.
A comprehensive communication plan for the implementation of the Strategy has increased visibility and awareness about Council of Europe standards and has further consolidated its leading role as a normative organisation in the field of women’s rights and gender equality.
Following numerous successful promotional events and contacts with the key external partners, the Council of Europe Convention on combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) entered in force 1 August 2014 and has become a global reference – called as “golden standard” by the UN Women and received the 2014 Future Policy Award.
Two important conferences of National Focal Points (NFPs) focusing on media and the image of women and combating gender stereotypes in education as well as two events focusing on equal access of women to justice have facilitated implementation of standards by providing opportunities for exchange of experience and good practice ideas and information as well as networking opportunities among relevant stakeholders.
Practical tools such as compilations of good practices handbooks/toolkits on the implementation of Council of Europe standards in the area of gender equality have been made available to member States.
The successful completion of the fourth round of monitoring the implementation of the Committee of Ministers Recommendation Rec(2002)5 on the protection of women against violence and its analytical report have provided member States with information on existing gaps and measures to address them.