Today, 6 April, the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union organised the High-Level Conference on the “10th Anniversary of the Signing of the Istanbul Convention. State of play.” Representatives of the European Parliament, Europol, the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) took part in the meeting, as did representatives of the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO), the European Women’s Lobby, as well as academics and journalists.
The aim was to take stock after a decade of the existence of the Istanbul Convention, analyse the impacts of the pandemic and, in particular, reflect on the concrete measures and actions that will be necessary to guarantee that the convention’s standards are reached, in keeping with the fundamental priority of the EU of putting an end to all forms of violence against women and girls and the new EU Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025.
As the Portuguese Minister of State for the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, Mariana Vieira da Silva, stated when opening the conference, “the Istanbul Convention is the road-map for a Europe where all girls and women will feel safe, where they are protected and where they can set out on the paths they choose”. It is therefore fundamentally important to see the convention as “the tool that makes it possible to define the guidelines necessary for a common protection base in all the Member States”. This message was shared by the European Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, and the Ministers of the Trio Presidency responsible for Equality – Janez Cigler Kralj, from Slovenia, and Franziska Giffey, from Germany.
The Portuguese Secretary of State for Citizenship and Equality, Rosa Monteiro, closed the conference. According to her, “by identifying the challenges and risks of retrogression we face, the conference allowed for the conclusion that enormous commitment lies ahead if we are to continue the transformation made possible by the Istanbul Convention over the past decade. The challenges include strengthening the victim support and protection systems, increasing the knowledge and recognition of this scourge and actively deconstructing the gender stereotypes at the root of all forms of violence against women and girls”.
Portugal was the first EU Member State to sign up to the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence that was adopted in Istanbul in May 2011. The first legally binding international treaty aimed at combating violence against women entered into force in 2014 and so far has been ratified by 33 countries and signed by a further 12 states or supranational bodies.