New Gender Equality Commission
Women continue to earn less, decide less, and count less than men. There is one area where women count more than men: in the records of victims of violence". Speaking at the launch of the Council of Europe new Gender Equality Commission in June 2012, Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland said that all conditions were reunited for the Council of Europe to deliver important results in the field of gender equality by the end of 2013.
The Secretary General also referred to gender equality as a means to guaranteeing respect of human rights for all. "We simply can’t afford to exclude half of the population from the efforts that we should undertake to achieve social and economic progress and to guarantee lasting peace", he said.
The new Gender Equality Commission is expected to play a key role in supporting the Council of Europe to assess the needs and identify ways to remove the obstacles to implementation of its standards in the field of gender equality.
Accelerating progress towards gender equality: the Council of Europe strategy for 2014-2017
Although the legal status of women in Europe has improved during recent decades, effective equality is far from being a reality. Even if progress is visible (educational attainment, labour market participation, political representation), gender gaps persist in many areas, maintaining men in their traditional roles and constraining women’s opportunities to affirm their fundamental rights and assert their agency. The most pronounced expression of the uneven balance of power between women and men is violence against women, which is both a human rights violation and a major obstacle to gender equality.
On 6 November 2013, the Committee of Ministers adopted the Council of Europe Gender Equality Strategy for the period 2014-2017.
The overall goal of the Strategy is to achieve the advancement and empowering of women and the effective realisation of gender equality in Council of Europe member states. The Strategy sets five strategic objectives:
Combating gender stereotypes and sexism;
Preventing and combating violence against women;
Guaranteeing Equal Access of Women to Justice;
Achieving balanced participation of women and men in political and public decision-making;
Achieving Gender Mainstreaming in all policies and measures.
The Strategy emanates from an unprecedented mobilisation in the Council of Europe through its new Transversal Gender Equality Programme. It presupposes that all Council of Europe decision-making, advisory and monitoring bodies should support and actively contribute to its implementation. The Committee of Ministers has invited the Gender Equality Commission to follow closely the implementation of the Strategy and asked the Secretary General to report annually on progress achieved.