Council of Europe

The Council of Europe, based in Strasbourg (France), now covers virtually the entire European continent, with its 47 member countries. Founded on 5 May 1949 by 10 countries, the Council of Europe seeks to develop throughout Europe common and democratic principles based on the European Convention on Human Rights and other reference texts on the protection of individuals.

The primary aim of the Council of Europe is to create a common democratic and legal area throughout the whole of the continent, ensuring respect for its fundamental values: human rights, democracy and the rule of law.


- to protect human rights, pluralist democracy and the rule of law;††
- to promote awareness and encourage the development of Europe's cultural identity and diversity;
- to find common solutions to the challenges facing European society;
- to consolidate democratic stability in Europe by backing political, legislative and constitutional reform

The current Council of Europe's political mandate was defined by the third Summit of Heads of State and Government, held in Warsaw in May 2005.†

The Council of Europe and Gender Equality

Gender equality means an equal visibility, empowerment and participation of both sexes in all spheres of public and private life. It requires the acceptance and appreciation of the complementarity of women and men and their diverse roles in society.

This is the basis upon which the Council of Europe seeks to make gender equality a reality.

The organisation aims to combat any interference with women’s liberty and dignity, eliminate discrimination based on sex, promote a balanced participation of women and men in political and public life and encourage the integration of a gender perspective into all programmes and policies.

Article 14 and Protocol No. 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) have helped to improve the legal protection and status of women in recent decades. However genuine equality has yet to be attained. Women are still marginalised in political and public life and paid less for work of equal value. Moreover, they remain on a substantial scale the victims of poverty, violence and unemployment.

In response, the Council of Europe emphasises the economic costs of inequality and campaigns vigorously against domestic violence and human trafficking. The organisation has also targeted education in the battle for equality. In October 2007, the Committee of Ministers adopted a recommendation to encourage measures aimed at implementing gender mainstreaming at all levels of the education system of its 47 Member States.

The Council of Europe and the European Union: different roles, shared values

The Council of Europe and the European Union share the same fundamental values – human rights, democracy and the rule of law – but are separate entities which perform different, yet complementary, roles.

Focusing on those core values, the Council of Europe brings together governments from across Europe – and beyond – to agree minimum legal standards in a wide range of areas. It then monitors how well countries apply the standards that they have chosen to sign up to. It also provides technical assistance, often working together with the European Union, to help them do so.

The European Union refers to those same European values as a key element of its deeper political and economic integration processes. It often builds upon Council of Europe standards when drawing up legal instruments and agreements which apply to its 27 member states. Furthermore, the European Union regularly refers to Council of Europe standards and monitoring work in its dealings with neighbouring countries, many of which are Council of Europe member states.

The Lisbon Treaty increased the scope for European Union action in many areas where the Council of Europe already has significant experience and expertise. This has led to increased cooperation on issues such as fighting human trafficking, the sexual exploitation of children and violence against women. It has also opened the way for the European Union itself to sign up to the European Convention on Human Rights, and to other Council of Europe agreements.

Amsterdam, 4-5 July 2013

"Media and the Image of Women" - Conference of the Council of Europe Gender Equality Commission organised in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands

Please†find below the link to the webpage of the†recent Conference† "Media and the Image of Women" organised by the Gender Equality Commission of the Council of Europe in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands.

The website of the Conference will continue to be updated and in there you will be able to find the programme of the Conference, background information and documents, speeches and presentations, conference conclusions, the list of participants, photos and†a video clip.

Additional links

For details on the various Topics available in this section, please select from the links below

European Court of Human Rights

Steering Committee for Equality between Women and Men (CDEG)

New Gender Equality Commission