Today, 01 March, a week ahead of the International Women’s Day, Nils Muižnieks, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, delivered a speech to the Plenary of the European Parliament concerning his experience with relation to women’s rights and gender equality.
In his speech, the Commissioner highlights some of the achievements reached in a number of years over the past few years but also warned about stagnation and
a certain complacency [that] seems to have set in after progress in recent decades.
Among the various issues at hand, he mentioned gender discrimination in employment including the gender pay gap that is still there in all Council of Europe countries as well as the low representation of women in leading positions in business and politics.
He furthermore called MEPs’ attention to the fact that while certain areas there was stagnation, in others, he witnesses backsliding.
He expressed his concerns related to the resistance in some countries to ratifying the Convention on preventing and combatting violence against women and domestic violence, also known as the Istanbul Convention, based on anti-gender argumentation.
Some pretend that the use of the word “gender” in the Convention has hidden purposes and effects. In effect, that there is a hidden agenda. This is simply not true. […]
While the term “sex” refers to the biological characteristics that define humans as female and male, gender “shall mean the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities and attributes that a society considers appropriate for women and men.”
He finished his intervention expressing his concern over the domain in which progress has stalled the most or where the backsliding is the strongest: women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. He emphasized that sexual education in many countries is “not comprehensive, evidence-based abd mandatory” and that access to safe and legal abortion is not guaranteed both in law and practice.
medical professionals sometimes refuse service on grounds of conscience and governments do not sufficiently regulate this sector to ensure the availability of care.
Read the full speech here: it is short, crisp and sums up very well the areas of most concern.
Want to know more about those who push these anti-gender and anti-choice campaigns? Have a look at our study on the new extremist religious anti-human rights lobbies.