EU Statement, Opening Session: Human Dimension Seminar on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Girls

Warsaw, 16-17 November 2021.

  • The European Union would like to thank the ODIHR, the Swedish Chairpersonship and the host country Poland for their thorough work in organising this year’s Human Dimension Seminar.
  • A decade after the adoption of the Istanbul Convention, the first legally binding instrument to combat violence against women and domestic violence, the topic of Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Girls is very relevant. As HRP/VP Borrell stated “Violence against women and girls is a violation of human rights, and has no place in the EU, or anywhere else in the world.”  
  • The scale of the problem remains alarming: one in three women in the EU have experienced sexual or gender based violence. Violence against women exists in every country, culture and community.
  • Therefore, we see the three Working Groups themes as very relevant. One recent trend is the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the fight against violence against women and girls. COVID-19 has hit women disproportionately hard and has exacerbated existing inequalities. This has strengthened the need for an intersectional approach to combating gender inequality at large.
  • Another trend is the surge of online violence and hatred against women. Countering online harassment must be an integral part of any strategy preventing and combating violence against women.
  • Women in political and public life are at risk of being double victims of online harassment: because of their job and because they are women. Supporting women’s and girls’ full, effective and meaningful participation in political and public life, at all levels of decision-making, is crucial. Another important topic is the protection of women and girls fleeing from persecution or turmoil in their home countries, who are particularly at risk of physical, sexual and psychological violence when seeking sanctuary, in transit and when they arrive at the destination countries.
  • Change is possible, but it requires commitment and determination. The EU is committed to continue to work tirelessly to investigate and punish all acts of violence, ensure support for victims, address the root causes and reinforce the legal framework. We look forward to the in depth discussions today and tomorrow.