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MEPs concerned by a backlash in women’s rights in some member states


  • Concerns regarding the rise of gender-based violence in the EU
  • Women’s health and reproductive rights are being undermined in some member states
  • Women’s rights organisations should be granted access to funding
  • MEPs worried about the recent intensification of sexist and LGBTI-phobic hate speech

The EP expressed its concerns regarding the offensive against women’s rights and gender equality in some member states, in a resolution adopted on Wednesday.

This decade is witnessing a visible and organised offensive against gender equality and women’s rights, including in the EU and particularly in some member states, says the non-legislative resolution adopted by 395 votes in favour, 157 against and 62 abstentions.

MEPs note that the nature, intensity and effects of the backlash against women’s rights vary among member states, in some cases remaining at the level of rhetoric, but sometimes turning into concrete measures.

MEPs’ concerns cover a large number of areas, notably:

Gender-based and domestic violence: MEPs highlight the increasing number of women experiencing domestic violence in the EU and call on the Council to fully implement the Istanbul Convention and to advocate for all member states to ratify it;

Access to justice: MEPs note that victims of gender-based violence still often have limited access to justice and proper protection. They thus call on member states to ensure that all victims receive gender-sensitive legal assistance in order to put an end to impunity and to improve the reporting of such crimes;

Women’s health and reproductive rights: MEPs express concern that those opposed to reproductive rights and women’s autonomy have significantly influenced some national laws and policies, seeking to undermine women’s rights and restrict access to contraception and abortion. They call on the Commission to include the promotion and improvement of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the next Public Health Strategy;

Access to funding: MEPs are worried that the resources available to women’s rights organisations and women’s shelters are being reduced in many member states. They call on member states to provide sufficient financial resources and insist that access to funds must be less bureaucratic and should not be discriminatory with regard to the objectives and activities of the organisations;

NGOs: MEPs point out the tendency in some member states to establish a parallel NGO landscape consisting of pro-government organisations. They underline the importance of a critical, diverse NGO landscape for women’s rights and gender equality; and

Hate speech: the Parliament is concerned that this form of violence has recently intensified, especially sexist and LGBTI-phobic hate speech. To set an example, it calls on its members to demonstrate a zero-tolerance policy towards sexist hate speech during Parliament’s sessions by amending the EP’s rules of procedure to include a ban on such speech.

In conclusion, MEPs, who quizzed the Commission during a debate on the subject on Tuesday, call for the development of a coherent and comprehensive roadmap to achieve gender equality and protect equal rights for women, including the elimination of all forms of violence against women.


Further information

The adopted text will be published here (13.02.2019)

Video of the debate (12.02.2019)

Question for oral answer to the Commission

Procedure file

Free photos, video and audio material


Source: European Parliament 

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