Friday, June 22, 2018

Infographic on how older people with disabilities are excluded from humanitarian response

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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Israel & Palestine – Women Partners For Peace

Partners for Peace is a feature-length documentary film that follows a delegation of women on a journey to Israel and Palestine. Under the leadership of Nobel Peace Laureates Jody Williams and Mairead Maguire they seek to learn about the decades-long conflict, and to reach out in solidarity to women activists who are forging a path toward peace.. Confronted by the complex and brutal depth of the conflict they are inspired by the commitment and sacrifices of the women they meet, and challenged to ask difficult questions of themselves, and of us all.

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Monday, June 18, 2018

Learning about your own privilege as a man

A number of writers on accountability talk about the importance of men being reflective and cognisant about their male privilege (Schacht and Ewing 1997; Macomber 2014; Pease 2010). Schacht and Ewing (1997: 169) make the point that while violence against women is a structural issue, it is not only structural and that men need to work on changing their lives as part of the struggle against patriarchy. Any male ally should adopt four basic practices:

•  Through the reading of feminist works and actually listening to women, he should try and learn about the depth and unjust nature of women’s oppression. 

•  He should consider asking himself in what ways does he personally and as a man in general (structurally) oppress women. 

•  He should consider ways to reject traditional notions of masculinity that are oppressive to others. 

• He should consider ways to put women’s needs as equal or even greater than his own. 

The more that men are reflective about their own privileged positioning, and take action to challenge it, the more likely that they can be effective allies (Curry-Stevens 2004). Bojin (2012) argues that men’s capacity to interrogate their own privilege is fundamental for developing effective alliances with feminist women. It has been noted by many feminist activists, that true allies were cognisant of their privilege and also had an understanding of the history of women’s activism against men’s violence (Macomber 2012). Such men were less likely to present themselves as experts and were more willing to take a secondary role in support of women’s work.
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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Education, Training and Health Literacy 6/6. European Plan for Women’s Health 2018

 20. Education and Training Investment Healthcare professionals are vital to maintaining the health and wellbeing of women and their families.  Efforts must be made to sufficiently invest and improve healthcare professional education and training.  Exchange of best practice across Europe should be encouraged to ensure that all healthcare professionals are receiving the best and most up-to-date training and education.

 21. Sex and Gender Integration into Education and Training Healthcare professionals must be taught the importance of sex and gender differences in the prevention, development, diagnosis and treatment of various conditions during their education and training.  Sex and gender considerations should be integrated into training and curricula.  Healthcare professionals should receive further education through efforts, such as symposiums and professional conferences on sex and gender issues. 

 22. Healthcare Professional Sex and Gender Policies Healthcare professional play a vital role in treating, advising, caring, educating and training.  Professional bodies should adopt explicit policies that encourage the integration of sex and gender and age factors into education and training.  There must be a commitment to mainstream an evidence-based sex and gender perspective throughout all the healthcare professional curriculum and continuous education.

23. European Sex and Gender Health Education Coalition A European coalition for the integration of sex and gender into healthcare professional education and training could be established including the representation of the diverse healthcare professionals.  The multi-disciplinary and multi-sectorial coalition could set and drive the agenda within and across European Member States.  The coalition could work to inform students and educators on the importance of integrating sex and gender into healthcare professional education.  The coalition could exchange best practice across Member States to best incorporate sex and gender into education at institutional, local and national levels and include the most recent evidence base in practice in order to improve patient outcomes. 

24. Health Literacy Information Accessible and accurate health information in people’s respective language is a vital tool for both patients and healthcare providers. To empower patients, caregivers and their families this information must be easy to understand and in their respective language.  People who are health literate have lower mortality rates, are less likely to use healthcare services (shorter stays, fewer visits), engage in safer use of medicine and better manage their conditions than are those with low health literacy levels.viii,ix,x  Accessible, free multilingual health literacy information for patients, caregivers, families and citizens must be developed and supported.

 25. Sex, Gender and Age Health Literacy Information on sex and gender as well as age differences in health and wellbeing should be funded and generated.  These materials should be accessible, inclusive, peer-reviewed documents. Materials—such as policy briefings, background documents, reports and other publications—should explain the importance of integrating sex and gender into health using the most recent evidence base.  These documents should be written in clear and basic language to ensure accessibility as well as diffusion. 

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Access, Treatment, Care and Responsive Health Care 5/6. European Plan for Women’s Health 2018

15. Inclusion of Sex and Gender in Treatment Women’s health is more than reproductive health; it is health across the life-span.    The incidence and prevalence of certain diseases are higher among women such as breast cancer, osteoporosis, auto-immune diseases and eating disorders.  Others affect men and women differently, including lung cancer, diabetes, depression and cardiovascular disease.  Women do not present the same for various conditions and respond differently to treatment and care.  Sex and gender differences have important implications for health and healthcare.  Thus, treatments must account for sex and gender differences in order to ensure women and their families receive the best available treatment and care.
 16. Caregiving Support Women play a major caring role in care-giving.  Within the household, women often have little support, which may affect their health negatively. Much of the responsibility for childcare, care of older parents and disabled family members continues to fall on women. The time consumed in caregiving can lead some women to neglect their own health.  Working women normally continue to bear the main burden for childcare and household work, which may create stress and affect both their physical and mental health.  Programmes and policies to support female caregivers should be encouraged and supported.
 17. Family Health Managers Women as mothers, partners and daughters often take on the role as managers of health for their families.  Women are often the main decision-makers particularly for the health and wellbeing of children.  However, these obligations can come at the cost of women’s own health and wellbeing.  Policies and programming should support the role women play in managing their own health and the health of their families. 

 18. Holistic Approach to Health Socioeconomic, educational, cultural and ethnicity differences impact health behaviour and access to resources.  Sex and gender inequities, lack of resources or decision-making power, unfair work divisions as well as violence against women all impact health.  Moreover, women have less financial resources than men, which exacerbate existing health inequalities.  Women in Europe are in lower paid, often less secure and informal occupations than men.  Women earn on average 16% less than men.  Women, on average, receive pensions that are 40% lower than men.vii  A broad view on health and wellbeing - including mental health, employment, justice, education and technology - should be taken in order to reduce sex and gender inequities in health.

19. Healthy Healthcare Professionals Women are also key actors in the health sector not only as users of services but also as healthcare professionals. Often, women receive lower pay, less recognition or have to manage child and elder care as well.  Policy and programmes must support female healthcare professionals in training and employment as well as helping them maintain good health. Women remain concentrated in the lower-level health occupations compared to men, have less status, lower salaries or, to accommodate the care of children and/or older family members have interrupted careers which often negatively impacts their financial situation, pension rights and career opportunities. Women must be recognised and supported in order for them to take a leading role in the healthcare sector.
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Sunday, June 10, 2018

Research, Innovation and Personalised Medicine 4/6. European Plan for Women’s Health 2018

10. Cross-National Data Cross-national data collection across the EU must be improved and expanded.  Data must be formatted in a manner that can easily be processed and interchanged between local, national and EU levels.  Robust, comparable data is essential, and EU Member States should be encouraged to work to standard templates for data collection.  Templates should include common indicators, capturing patterns of behaviour and access to resources, which can be utilised by healthcare delivery organisations and channeled through regional and national statistics to the EU level.   Current efforts like the Cancer Registries should be supported and improved to fix existing gaps.  Comprehensive, longitudinal data is essential for improving health and wellbeing policy, programmes and practice.

 11. Sex and Gender Disaggregation Large differences exist between men and women with regard to prevention, disease development and progression, diagnosis, treatment and care of various health conditions.  Yet, there is a lack of comparable cross-national health data that sufficiently disaggregates by factors, including sex and gender, age and ethnicity.  Robust age as well as sex and gender analysis of data is often lacking, resulting in gaps in evidence-based medicine and research.  In order to improve existing policy and practice, research should be based on sex and gender as well as age disaggregated data.  Harmonised sex and gender-specific data collection across EU Member States should be encouraged. 

 12. Horizontal Integration of Sex and Gender Sex and gender integration into research must be improved.  In a just society, women and men must have equal opportunity to benefit from research.  Over the years, scientific knowledge has increasingly demonstrated that some treatments affect men and women differently. Sex and gender should be integrated into research funding streams.  Applications for funding should be required to include information on sex and gender considerations in research and in health technology assessments.  The inclusion of sex and gender specific disaggregated data should be included in all future EU research programmes as criteria for funding and referenced in the guide for applicants, application forms, and guide for evaluators. The future FP9 Research Programme should include funding for training on sex and gender for consortia who submit proposals.

13. Funding Sex and Gender Health Research Sex and gender is a key determinant of health.  Explicit research on sex and gender in health should be funded at European level.  A sex and gender balance must be promoted, right from the start, throughout all stages of research, including integration into the training and education of health care professionals.  Translating the evidence from sex and gender research into practice will lead to more targeted, effective opportunities for prevention, treatment and care.  Research needs to explore how women and men experience health and health care from a multidimensional perspective across the lifespan.  Sex and gender-based analysis (SGBA) must be systematically included in health technology assessment (HTA).

 14. Women in Clinical Trials Women are generally under-represented in clinical trials.  Women make up the largest proportion of the older population and are the heaviest users of medicines. Yet, women have a 1.5 to 1.7 times greater risk of developing adverse drug reactions compared to men as women as they are not sufficiently represented in clinical  The New Clinical Trials Regulation is a major step forward in increasing clinical trial data transparency. However, the continued under representation of women in clinical trials needs to be urgently tackled, and the regulation must be enforced.  Research must explore the existing barriers for the recruitment and retention of women and older people in clinical trials and to develop a robust methodology for subgroup analysis.  Ethics Committees should develop guidelines based on CIOMS revised guidelines that require the inclusion of women in clinical research.

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Friday, June 8, 2018

European Plan for Women’s Health 2018. Health Promotion and Disease Prevention 3/6

4. Early Intervention Early intervention is key to improve women and family health and wellbeing.  Action must be taken early and at critical points to ensure health and wellbeing from childhood through old age.  Available evidence must be used to best identify entry points for various interventions—both at the population and individual level—specific to girls and women throughout their life.  Health inequities should be reduced by integrating sex and gender considerations into health promotion and disease prevention, programming and policy, devoting special attention to vulnerable and marginalised groups.  Different health patterns between men and women must be taken into account when designing policies and programmes, taking a life-long perspective to support health promotion and disease prevention.  Efforts such as cancer screening programmes, vaccination and promoting healthy lifestyles should be supported at local, national and European levels.

 5. Vaccination Strategy A coordinated and comprehensive life-course immunisation strategy must be adopted to target vulnerable people, such as pregnant women and older people.  Infectious diseases easily cross borders.  Therefore, collaboration and coordination for a common vaccination strategy that protects Europe’s population from infectious diseases must be improved and include all relevant stakeholders.  Robust pro-active communication programmes must also be developed to create a health- and vaccine-literate public that understands the benefit of vaccination for protecting both individuals and society from infectious diseases.  The Joint Action on Vaccination should include a diverse stakeholder pool to support activities, including combating vaccine hesitancy at EU and Member State level. 

 6. Antibiotic Research The growing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a public health threat that has been steadily increasing over the last decades. In the EU, results in 25,000 deaths annually at a cost of €1.5 billion per year in health costs and lost productivity.ii  Many common infections are becoming difficult or even impossible to treat, sometimes turning a simple infection into a life-threatening condition.  Citizens, patients, healthcare professionals, hospitals, veterinarian and farmers all have a role to play in fighting antimicrobial resistance. Women as the traditional family care givers can help to promote the prudent use of antibiotics in the family environment.  There is a need for clear and accessible information through sustained health literacy campaigns to ensure that the general public becomes more aware of the risks of the over-consumption of antibiotics and the associated dangers.  Research and development on new antibiotics must be urgently encouraged.

7. Maternal Health Maternal health is a vital point for public health intervention to reduce the burden of disease and promote wellbeing through encouragement of and healthy diets, taking folic acid, cessation of smoking and alcohol consumption as well as taking appropriate exercise.  Large variation exists across Member States with regard to preventing maternal morbidity and mortality.  Efforts to improve and share standards of maternal healthcare across Europe should be supported.  There is a lack of information and data about the safe use of medication during pregnancy and lactation for both women and their healthcare professionals, which must be urgently tackled. Research and pharmacovigilance must be improved to ensure safe and effective use of medicines during pregnancy and lactation in order to provide robust information and advice for health professionals, mothers and pregnant women.  Most of the 5 million babies born in Europe every year have been exposed to medications taken by their mothers during the pregnancy.iii  A publically-funded comprehensive European Pharmacovigilance system should be established to collect data, knowledge and close the information gap.

 8. Active and Healthy Ageing One of the biggest challenges facing European societies is maintaining health across the lifespan particularly in light of an increasingly ageing population.  Active and healthy ageing must be a priority on the health and social agenda of the EU and its Member States.  Europe has the highest proportion of older women in the world.  Women are on the forefront of ageing due to their greater longevity than men, their multiple carer and societal roles and their lower financial resources.  Despite women’s increased lifespan, their older years are disproportionately burdened by ill health.  Women outlive men by more than five years, but the difference in healthy life expectancy is less than nine months.iv   A comprehensive and supportive approach, including physical and mental health, must be taken to empower and support women to actively and healthily age in order to reduce inequities, isolation and poverty in old age.  Specific attention should be devoted to important issues that affect older people, particularly cancer and Alzheimer's disease.

9. Healthy Behaviour Promotion Chronic disease is responsible for large part of ill health, disability and mortality in the EU in both sexes, leading to increasingly costly health and long-term care if not treated and managed effectively, particularly diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.  Efforts must be made to promote healthy behaviours, accounting for various factors including sex and gender.  For instance, the frequency and level of alcohol and tobacco consumption among women is on the rise in Europe, resulting in narrowing the gap in avoidable illness and death in women.  Beginning in the 1990s, young girls started out smoking young boys in Europe.  Women also have special nutritional needs that shift for each stage of a women’s life.   Differences between men and women exist with regard to exercise and rising obesity.  Men in the EU are 1.6 times more likely to be sufficiently physically active in a week compared to women.v Thus, explicit programming and policy should encourage women and their families to eat well, exercise and engage in healthy behaviours.
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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

European Plan for Women’s Health 2018. Horizontal Priorities 2/6

1. Sex and Gender Integration A holistic approach to women’s health and wellbeing must incorporate biological, social, economic and political influences.  As a result, sex and gender considerations must be integrated in a range of policies that influence health and wellbeing, such as health, research, employment, justice, education and technology policies. 

 2. Stakeholder Collaboration Diverse, interdisciplinary and cross-sectorial stakeholders relevant to women and family health must be brought together at local, national and European levels to exchange best practice and to advocate together to advance the women’s health agenda.  Strong stakeholder collaboration is vital to the implementation of good prevention and healthcare policy.  Key stakeholders—such as government officials, regulatory agencies, academic institutions, NGOs, industry professionals and healthcare providers—must be engaged to develop effective, efficient and equitable policy and programmes at local, national and European levels. 

 3. Incorporation of UN SDGs The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) should be integrated into European health and wellbeing programming, policy and practice.  Concerted efforts should be devoted to promoting and achieving SDG 3 (good health and wellbeing) 5 (gender equality) and 10 (reducing inequalities) with a diverse group of relevant stakeholders.
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Monday, June 4, 2018


Women on The Frontline of Health 

  •  "Inequalities experienced in earlier life in access to education, employment and health care as well as those based on gender and cultural background can have a critical bearing on the health status of people throughout their lives. The combination of poverty with other vulnerabilities such as childhood or old age, disability or minority background further increases health risks and vice-versa, ill health can lead to poverty and/or social exclusion.” 

In celebration of the European Institute of Women’s Health’s (EIWH) twenty-first anniversary and sixty-years of gender equality in EU policy since the Treaty of Rome (1957), the EIWH brought together decision makers and thought leaders to review progress that has been achieved in sex and gender equity in women’s health.  Delegates explored existing gaps by employing a crosssectorial approach and devise steps for moving forward together.  On the basis of the delegate discussion from the four policy central policy topics, we have put together the main recommendations from each panel, which went to form this draft Action Plan.

Despite the vital role that women play in their families, communities and societies, women have significantly less financial resources than men.  Women experience a gender pay gap during their working years, earning on average 16% less than their male counterparts in the EU.  Women also face a pension gap during retirement, with women on average receiving pensions that are 40% lower than men.  The gender pay and pension gap varies greatly from country to country; for example, pension gender pay gaps range from a 4% to a 49%. As a result, working and older women have less financial resources.i  This gap gets wider over lifetime and during retirement and is problematic during old age; many women struggle to pay for help with assisted living or long-term care. 

Women are on the frontline of health in Europe.  They play a vital role in all aspects of healthcare as healthcare professionals, caregivers, patients, mothers, daughters and friends, particularly in light of an ageing Europe.  As such, women are key decision-makers and thought leaders.  Yet, research, programming, policy and practice do not sufficiently account for sex and gender differences.  For example, women outlive men but are burdened by more years of ill health.  We must invest in women’s health in order to improve the health of all in Europe.

The European Action Plan for Women’s Health has been developed to outline how we can   advance the women’s health agenda together and drive policy implementation in key areas.  The Plan will be turned into a European Manifesto for Women’s Health 2019.  This manifesto will be given to key Members of European Parliament (MEPs) in the run up to the 2019 election to ensure that women’s health and wellbeing is on the European policy agenda
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Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Bellagio Declaration. Conclusions and recommendations 3/3

8. The participants emphasised that domestic laws should be enacted, reformed or interpreted to conform to the international and regional human rights standards on the elimination of sexual violence.  

9. The participants agreed that members of the judiciary2 at all levels have opportunities to develop or apply the law in ways which are consistent with women’s equality in cases involving gender based violence against women, including sexual violence. The participants noted that the actions of judicial officers in interpreting and applying the law may engage the responsibility of their State under international law if their decision and practices result in the violation of the human rights of women. 

10. The participants agreed that members of the judiciary have a responsibility to be aware of applicable human rights norms as stated in international and regional instruments and national constitutions and laws and apply them systematically. It is crucially important for them to be aware of and use the provisions of those instruments, which particularly pertain to women. In countries with a plural legal system, this responsibility applies also to the customary, traditional and/or religious authorities. 

11. The participants agreed that judicial academies, universities and law schools should be encouraged to develop mandatory courses in human rights, which must include a module on the human rights of women and gender-based violence against women. They also recommended that induction or orientation programmes for new judges and programmes of continuing judicial education should mandatorily include material regarding women’s rights and gender-based violence against women. 

12. The participants recommended that States should carry out extensive legal awareness campaigns in the community in relation to women’s human rights and gender based violence against women. 

13. The participants recommended the development of closer links and co-operation across national frontiers by the judiciary for the sharing of information about good judicial practices on the progressive interpretation and application of human rights law standards as they relate to gender based violence against women, including sexual violence. 

14. The participants recommended that special attention be given to processes, practices and procedural matters in pre-trial and trial proceedings/in court proceedings in order to create a conducive, friendly environment that enables access to justice for women and girls and avoid re-victimisation in cases of gender based violence against women, including sexual violence. 

15. The participants recommended that mechanisms be put in place for the collection of judicial data on the number cases of sexual violence and on related homicide cases or gender-related killing of women per year1, disaggregated by the age and sex of the perpetrators, as well as the relationship between the perpetrator and the victim or victims, type of violence, geographical location as well as other relevant factors. Information concerning the prosecution and punishment of perpetrators should also be collected and published

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Saturday, June 2, 2018

The Bellagio Declaration. Conclusions and recommendations 2/3

1. The participants call on all judicial officers and those involved with the judicial system to implement internationally, regionally and nationally guaranteed human rights norms for the elimination of gender-based violence against women and girls within their jurisdictions without discrimination, gender stereotyping or other prejudicial attitudes. Impartiality of the judiciary and the right to a fair trial cannot be guaranteed to women otherwise. 

2. The participants noted that significant advances have been made in the development of international and regional standards on the elimination of gender-based violence against women and girls including sexual violence, as well as in the development of national laws and policies to eliminate gender-based violence against women and girls. They also noted that despite the normative progress, impunity continues unchanged.

3. The participants acknowledged the important work done by the United Nations human rights treaty bodies and the United Nations Special Procedures to address sexual violence against women. In particular, they noted the importance of the work of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee) under the reporting and Optional Protocol procedures and in its General Recommendations and other statements. The participants welcomed the adoption of General Recommendation No. 35 on gender-based violence against women and noted that the issue of sexual violence had also been addressed in a number of other General Recommendations.

4. The participants also noted in particular the importance of the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence against Women (Convention of Belém do Pará), the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (the Maputo Protocol), and the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (the Istanbul Convention), and also the practice and jurisprudence of international and regional courts under other human rights treaties.  

5. The participants underlined that States are under binding international legal obligations to take all necessary measures to prevent the occurrence of sexual violence and to investigate and prosecute sexual violence against women perpetrated both by state actors and non-state actors, and to provide effective and transformative remedies and reparations. 

6. The participants reaffirmed the Victoria Falls Declaration of Principles for the Promotion of Human Rights of Women, 1994 as well as those stated in the Bangalore Principles on the Domestic Application of International Human Rights Law Norms, 1988 and in other judicial colloquia. These principles reflect the universality, indivisibility and inter-relatedness of human rights - inherent in men and women. These general principles are applicable in all countries, but the means by which they become applicable may differ. The participants underlined the vital role that an independent judiciary plays in the elimination of sexual violence against women and girls in interpreting and applying national constitutions and laws in the light of those principles.  

7. The participants agreed that, where they have not done so, all States should be encouraged to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), to remove any reservations they have made, to ratify the Optional Protocol, and to take into account the CEDAW Committee’s jurisprudence under the Optional Protocol and its General Recommendations. States should also be encouraged to ratify the relevant regional treaties on violence against women.
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Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Bellagio Declaration. Preamble 1/3

The Bellagio Declaration on state obligation and role of the judiciary in ensuring access to justice for gender based violence, including sexual violence in an effective, competent manner and with a gender perspective

The participants at the International Judicial Colloquium on Women’s Access to Justice in the Context of Sexual Violence, held at Bellagio on 7 and 8 December 2017, adopted the following Conclusions and Recommendations. 

The participants recognised that gender-based violence against women and girls, including sexual violence is a form of discrimination and both a cause and consequence of inequality. They also noted with concern that such violence is growing in intensity in all regions and countries, both in its many longstanding manifestations as well in as newly emerging forms such as the prevalence of gender-based violence against women and girls in digital spaces and through the use of technology. They also raised concerns regarding the continuing impunity resulting from the failure of many justice systems to combat gender-based violence against women and girls and the failure of States to ensure that the justice system is capable of addressing it effectively.  

 The participants highlighted that sexual violence against women involves the violation of a range of human rights guaranteed to women and girls, including the right to life, bodily integrity, freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, health (including sexual and reproductive health and rights), respect for private life, right to just and favourable conditions of work, and non-discrimination and equality
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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Best Practices in Combatting Violence Against Women: Sweden. CONCLUSIONS 9/9

Sweden is a model country when it comes to women’s rights and in fighting men’s violence against women. The country has a strong history in upholding women’s rights exemplified by their feministic government, strong representation of women parliamentarians and developing legislation enhancing women’s rights. 

The national strategy to prevent and combat men’s violence against women is a priority for the Swedish government, thus the strategy itself is far reaching and inclusive. Prevention as a priority, rather than consequential action has required male participation to be necessary, a key aid in this gender based problem. By ensuring the strategy is well funded, and approaches root problems, Sweden has hopefully tackled this issue effectively. 

Shelters in Sweden are found up and down the country catering to different groups of women, and sometimes running on their own model. The importance of this lies in their effectiveness; they are capable of offering different services in terms of support, and also different funding models allowing for more inclusive services. While traditionally these shelters were only voluntary based, a positive shift in government involvement signals continued professional development. Based on Sweden’s history and the development of women’s shelters in Sweden it is likely while this trend continues, these organisations will nevertheless play a distinct role in both shaping policy and aiding victims. It could be said that the diversity observable in the shelters and organisations, in terms of structure and focal groups, is noteworthy.   

The challenges experienced by vulnerable persons are familiar with all nations. These groups present themselves to be practically difficult to manage due to either their status in law or the social context their group exists in. Importantly, Sweden appears to be aware of the issues raised in this analysis and has embarked upon training initiatives. The services available to women in these groups is observable both in the form of government action, and non-governmental organisations. Moreover, the fact that these services are free is instrumental, and often confidential in combatting men’s violence against women.

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Sunday, May 27, 2018


7.1 Undocumented Women 
 Undocumented migrants are one of the most vulnerable groups in Swedish society, moreover, due to their irregular status, such migrants are an under-researched group and are not included in the country’s Cause of Death Register (CDR).

In its resolution of 4 February 2014 on undocumented women migrants in the European Union (2013/2115(INI)), the European Parliament highlighted the following: 

“Migrant women are more vulnerable to physical abuse in general, but undocumented ones are even more so because their legal status puts them in such a position where they cannot reach to the police or hospitals or shelters for help and their abuser knows this and exploits this situation. Undocumented migrant women who find themselves in an abusive situation cannot even readily access women’s shelters. Most state-run women’s shelters require some form of identification in order to receive the person, so the victims are left with the awful choice between remaining in the abusive situation or becoming homeless.”

Over the years, Sweden has increased asylum seekers social rights.37 In Sweden, most survivors of domestic violence have access to support services regardless of immigration status, because access to welfare state services is based on residence within a municipality as opposed to a particular immigration status. However, the grey area is for undocumented migrants, as they are not covered by the benefits system because a residence permit and personal identification number are needed for registration with the Swedish Social Insurance Agency. Many shelters thus struggle to house undocumented survivors; the exact number of undocumented migrants in Sweden is not known.

The Swedish government-commissioned inquiry “to explore the incidence of violence, threats and violations affecting foreign women and their children who have been granted residence permits on the grounds of ties with a person resident in Sweden”.38 Even for documented migrants the seeking of support from abuse can be difficult when they rely on a partner for their legal status in the country. In the inquiry it was concluded that the probationary period exacerbates unequal power relationships in intimate relationships:

“The legislation means that it is the foreigner, and most often a woman, who alone bears the risk if the relationship ends during the first years, and moreover alone, or together with her child, must bear the consequences of violence. The person with whom an immigrant has ties, usually a man, is, on the other hand, able to make use of the legislation through his superior situation. Our investigations indicate that the number of men who systematically exploit the legislation is by no means small.”39 

The fear of deportation often traps undocumented women (along with those who are dependent upon their spouse’s visa), and clearly it is not uncommon for abusers to take advantage of their position. 

7.2 Transgender Women  
Transgender persons are especially exposed to different types of violence, including domestic violence and violence in close relationships. In the experience coming from the coalition of NGOs, it has been shown that transgender women face serious difficulties in accessing shelters or support centres due to their gender identity and/or expression. This further exposes them to violence, discrimination and exclusion.40

In Sweden, the Government has presented proposals to strengthen the protection of transgender people under criminal law. The legislative amendments would mean that transgender people would be afforded full protection under the hate crime legislation. In addition, if a motive for an offence was to violate a person or group of people based on gender identity or gender expression, this would constitute an aggravating circumstance. 

The Government has also proposed that 'transgender identity or expression' a basis for discrimination in the Discrimination Act be replaced with 'gender identity or gender expression'. Under the proposal, all individuals will be protected against discrimination regardless of how their gender identity or gender expression relates to what is perceived to be the norm. 

The legislative amendments should enter into force on 1 July 2018, except for the amendments to the provisions on agitation against a national or ethnic group in the Freedom of the Press Act and the Penal Code, which will enter into force on 1 January 2019.41 

Also, a number of women’s emergency shelters have embarked on training programmes that will enable them to deal with the special needs of LGBT women exposed to violence. The activities of the women’s shelters need to be expanded so that LGBT women can receive the help and assistance they require.42 

7.3 Islamic Women 
 Men’s violence against women in the context of Muslims is particularly difficult given the religious connotations of severing their faith while challenging gender-based violence. Muslim women felt a need to register a formal organization that acknowledged their experiences of linguistic and cultural misunderstandings as well as prejudicial treatment at “conventional” women’s centres. Thus, the Sisters Shelter Somaya shelter43 was established in 1998 in Stockholm by a group of women living in a suburb that had many inhabitants with Muslim and foreign backgrounds.

The founders were themselves Muslims: some immigrants, some converts to Islam. Many resented being met with the presumption that they needed to leave their religion and assimilate with the non-Muslim majority. One support worker said “A woman who comes to us does not want to get rid of God; she wants to get rid of her husband”. Somaya publicly declared itself to contribute with competence in the Swedish legal and welfare system as well as in various languages, including Swedish. Moreover, the organization affirmed that it offered a shelter where violence against women was not presented as a particularly “Muslim problem” rooted in Islam.
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Friday, May 25, 2018


6.1 Background  
Currently, three types of crime victim support organisations are available for abused women in Sweden:
1) women’s shelters and support centres for young women, 
2) crime victims support groups and 
3) municipal crisis centres.

Historically, organisations formed on a voluntary basis have borne the main responsibility for protecting women suffering from violence; while these organisations have some official employees they mainly rely on volunteers and are supported and supplemented by government grants/municipal reimbursement.26

Shelters are offered by the National Organisation for Women’s Shelters and Young Women's Shelters (Roks), and the Swedish Association of Women’s Shelters and Young Women’s Empowerment Centres (SKR). Both organisations’ mission is twofold, while directly protecting women suffering from domestic violence they also hold a position in politics, attempting to mould public policy. 

The Crime Victim Support Association (BOJ) purely focuses in providing individual support, and does not exclusively cater to women, and has around 100 local support groups. 

Subsequent to multiple amendments to the Services Act, there has been increasing involvement with municipal services. This has challenged the role of voluntary organisations, who have been criticised of having less knowledge in areas of law and psychology. Considering they are volunteer-based and not a government outlet, this seems natural. Optimistically, it has also signalled to some that “violence against women has achieved official recognition as a problem in Sweden, beyond the jurisdiction of the women’s movement”.

6.2 Roks, the National Organisation for Women’s Shelters and Young Women's Shelters 
Roks, the National Organisation for Women’s Shelters and Young Women's Shelters in Sweden (Riksorganisation för kvinnojourer och tjejjourer in Sverige), is a feministic organisation working on the rights of women’s and young women's rights and liberation, as well as equality on all levels. It is the largest member organisation for women's shelters and young women's shelters in Sweden. Roks aims at safeguarding the common interests of the shelters in their work against male violence towards women. It also strives to shape public opinion and actively works to make the public aware of the reality that the shelters face. There are around 100 women’s and young women's shelters within the organisation. Most of the staff at the shelters are voluntary workers. In order to be accepted at a shelter one needs to attend a study circle arranged by the shelter.

6.2.1 The Women’s Shelters
 Each Women’s Shelter is independent and has its own working methods. They offer support based on the individual needs and wishes of each woman. This includes conversational support, giving advice on police reports or custody disputes and going along as support when visiting the police, lawyers and social services for example. Many shelters also offer sheltered housing for women and their children.
All shelters have an emergency helpline where women can call if the need support. Callers can choose to remain anonymous and no calls are registered. A number of shelters also have a separate legal hotline. Some shelters have text telephones to cater for women with impaired hearing. Other shelters specialize in receiving adults subjected to incest.

6.2.2 The Young Women's Shelters 
There are approximately  young women's shelters within Roks, out of which around ten are independent organisations. The young women's shelters work the same way as the women’s shelters but turn to younger women who, for example, have been subjected to threats, ill-treatment and sexual abuse, or, for some other reason, need to talk to another girl. They also actively work towards making the public aware of the girls’ living conditions.

6.3 The Swedish Association of Women’s Shelters and Young Women’s Empowerment Centres (SKR)
 The Swedish Association of Women’s Shelters and Young Women’s Empowerment Centres (Sveriges Kvinno- och Tjejjourers Riksförbund, SKR) works towards tackling men’s violence against women and providing them with support and empowering them. In line with the feministic values of Sweden, the SKR works on the ideology that gender equality must be addressed in many areas in society and discussed broadly in relation to men’s violence against women. The SKR is an association of women’s shelters (kvinnojour), young women’s empowerment centres (tjejjour), relatives’ associations and other organisations. While not officially affiliated with a political party, SKR works towards changing public policy in line with protecting women against violence.31

6.4 Crime Victim Support Association (BOJ)
 The Crime Victim Support Association (Brottsofferjourernas Riksförbund, BOJ) offers direct support for more than 40,000 people per year in a multilingual setting. It also operates on a voluntary basis and provides a free, confidential service for all victims of crime.32 BOJ offers emotional support, practical help, information services about filing police reports, investigations and legal proceedings and information in applying for crime victim compensation. Importantly, the services are not dependent on whether a crime has been officially reported.33 There are in total 60 BOJ local victim support centres around Sweden, designed to complement action by the public authorities.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018


5.1 Legislative Framework in Sweden to Combat Violence Against Women In Sweden, violence against women is regulated mainly in different chapters of the Penal Code (Brottsbalken). The Penal Code applies, in particular, to the following: 
 domestic violence,  
 sexual violence (including rape, sexual assault and harassment or stalking),  
 human trafficking,   
 cyber violence and harassment using new technologies, and   
 harmful practices, such as forced marriages.

There is no specific legislation on “honour” crimes but criminal acts in this context are covered by the Penal Code. However, there is a separate law on penalising female genital mutilation (FGM) (Lag (1982:316) med förbud mot könsstympning av kvinnor)21. It provides that FGM is considered a punishable crime in Sweden even if the act was committed in a country where it is not illegal. There is also a separate law on harassment and stalking (Lag (1988:688) om kontaktförbud).

5.2 National Strategy to Prevent and Combat Men’s Violence Against Women  Given the omniscient effect of gender in politics and government, it is unsurprising that stopping violence against women is a priority for the Swedish government. The National strategy to prevent and combat men’s violence against women came into force on the 1st of January 2017 for a ten-year period. It has four objectives:  
 increased and effective preventive work to combat violence; 
 improved detection of violence and stronger protection for and support to women and children subjected to violence; 
 more effective crime-fighting; and 
 improved knowledge and methodological development.  The strategy itself is far-reaching and inclusive of different aspects of violence against women (for example includes measures to combat violence in same-sex relationships as well as measures that counteract destructive masculinity and notions of honour. 
The participation of men is viewed as essential for this strategy. Prevention, rather than dealing with the consequences of violence against women, has been the government’s priority which requires a coordinated effort between all relevant actors at all levels. In doing so, the government has tackled key areas such as and breaking with the norms that justify violence, the purchase of sexual services and other restrictions on the freedom of action and life choices of women and girls. Improvements towards detection is also a very important factor.

Towards this strategy, the Swedish Government has allocated SEK 600 million to an action plan containing new measures for 2017–2020, in addition to SEK 300 million in development funds to municipalities and county councils.
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Monday, May 21, 2018

Statistics of Victims and Abusers in Sweden 5/9

 The Swedish Council for Crime Prevention (Brå)16 presented a new report on 27 March 2018, which highlights crime trends up until the year 2015 (it does not include figures from 2016, which are still preliminary).

It notes that the number of women killed by a current or previous partner has gone down by almost 20 % since the early 2000s. In 2008–2013, an average of 13 women died every year as a result of domestic violence; down from an average of 17 in the first decade of the new millennium and the 1990s, according to Brå.

The average offender in 2000–2013 was aged 32 and the average victim 39. Around 60 % of offenders and almost a third of victims were unemployed or receiving some kind of jobless benefits in 2002–2013. "People involved in deadly violence to a large extent belong to socio-economically disadvantaged groups," reads Brå's report.

Since 2000, a suspect has been sentenced in around 80 % of all cases of deadly violence, or died before conviction (but confirmed as the likely perpetrator). The majority of those sentenced were found guilty of murder, rather than manslaughter.

In the early 1990s, less than half were convicted of murder, compared to almost 80 % in 2009–2013, a rise attributed to an increase in gang conflicts rather than, for example, domestic violence.

In 2015, it was reported that around 5% of men aged 16–24 fear attack or assault, compared to around 7% of 25–44 years old. This compares to around 27% of women aged 16-24 years old, and 15% of 22–44 years old.

In their overall lifetime, 25% of women were subject to a crime in a close relationship, with around 24% experiencing psychological violence, and 15% experiencing physical violence. The Council noted that gross violation of a woman’s integrity concerns violence against women in close relationships who experience repeated violations. In 2015, 1,844 cases were reported yet it was acknowledged that many crimes go under the radar due to lack of reporting. It was indicated by the 2015 National Crime Survey that 26% of crimes were actually reported, with the highest willingness to report arising from gross assault (64%) and the lowest for sexual offences (8%).

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Saturday, May 19, 2018


4.1 Violence Against Women in Europe According to the 2014 survey by the European Union Agency for Human Rights (FRA) for which more than 42,000 women were interviewed,14 the scale of physical, sexual and psychological violence against women is still shockingly high in Europe: 

Table 2 FRA   survey (2014) – experiencing violence  
1. 62 million women in the EU have experienced violence since the age of 15
  1 in 3 women has experienced some form of physical and/or sexual assault since the age of 15, translating into 62 million women throughout the EU. 
 About 13 million women in the EU experienced physical violence in the 12 months prior to the survey interviews. This corresponds to 7% of women aged 18–74 in the EU. 
 About 3.7 million women in the EU experienced sexual violence in the 12 months prior to the survey interviews. This corresponds to 2% of women aged 18–74 in the EU.

 2. Women experiencing physical and sexual violence from their partner or former partner 
 1 in 5 (22%) of all women who is or has been in a relationship has experienced physical and/or sexual violence from the partner. 
 Of the women who indicate they have been raped by their current partner, about one third (31%) say they have experienced six or more incidents of rape by their partner. 

3. Violence does not stop in pregnancy and continues after separation 
 Pregnant women are especially vulnerable to violence: 42% experienced violence from their previous partner while pregnant (FRA 2014a:22).  
 After breaking up with a violent partner, 1 in 6 women continued to be victimised by their former partner. 
 1 in 10 women has been stalked by a former partner. Source :

The EU average for women experiencing physical or psychological violence in 2014 was 33 %, with Denmark (52 %), Finland (47 %) and Sweden (46 %) being on the top of the list.  However, the FRA survey also suggests that the higher level of gender equality could also lead to higher levels of disclosure about violence against women: "Incidents of violence against women are more likely to be openly addressed and challenged in societies with greater equality”. Bra has also indicated the Swedish system for recording each individual rape as a single offence (even if it regards the same people in the same year) contributes to the high number of reports.

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Thursday, May 17, 2018


3.1 Economic and Political Power In terms of the entire labour market, women earn 87 % of what men earn, when all pay is recalculated to full-time. Pay differentials are most pronounced in the county councils. The smallest difference is among blue-collar workers. According to Statistics Sweden’s bi-annual report on gender equality, published in 2016, only 6 % of CEO positions in listed companies were filled by women, and 5 % of board chairpersons and 29 % of board members were women. Across private and public sectors, the report showed that 37 % of managers were women, compared with 62 % for the public sector.9

Despite robust laws in place for male child care, in reality, many women work part-time along with carrying the main responsibilities for child-care which can have an adverse effect on women reaching top level positions. In 2016, Statistics Sweden detailed that women still take over 80 % of given parental leave days. In light of the fact that more women than men work part-time, take longer parental leave and care for sick children, the differences between women's and men's annual income becomes even higher: women earn 81 % of what men earn. When working life comes to an end, women receive on average 67 % of what men receive in pension funds.

3.2 Participation in Decision-Making Sweden has one of the world’s highest representations of women in parliament. After the 2014 elections, 43.6 % (152) of the 349 seats were allocated to women. At present, in total 12 of the 23 government ministers are women.11 It has been suggested there has been a knock-on effect in Swedish politics in regards to women gaining seats in political

Several institutional, socio-economic and cultural factors factors might have contributed to the development of women’s representation in Sweden. Moreover, “the system of proportional representation (party list system) coupled with the early development of the Swedish welfare system, women’s opportunity to study and gain employment, low fertility levels and secular/protestant religious affiliation are of great importance explaining the high level of women in Swedish parliament.”13 Despite this, Sweden remains the only country in Scandinavia which has not seen a female Head of State. 

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Tuesday, May 15, 2018


2.1. Gender Mainstreaming as the Main Strategy to Achieve Equality 

In Sweden, gender mainstreaming is seen as the main strategy for achieving targets within equality policy. In recent years, to strengthen the gender mainstreaming work in municipalities, county councils, regions, county administrative boards, academia and other public domains, the Swedish government has handed out various assignments gathering experiences and developing knowledge and methods for the ongoing gender equality work. The use of gender mainstreaming as a strategy to reach the goals declared for Swedish gender equality policy dates back to 1994. According to the strategy, gender equality work must be integrated into the regular operations and not merely be dealt with as a separate, parallel track. For the work to have an impact and in order to reach the national gender equality goals, the organisation must systematically highlight and analyse the impacts of various proposals and decisions for women and men, respectively. The resulting knowledge shall in a next stage inform the design of the planning, implementation, follow-up and development at all levels of all public operations.4

2.1.1. The Gender Equality Agency 
The Swedish Government has commissioned the Gender Equality Agency to support 58 government agencies and one organisation with the work of integrating a gender perspective in all of their operations, in the context of the so-called “Gender Mainstreaming in Government Agencies (GMGA) programme”. Up until January 2018 the assignment was commissioned to the Swedish Secretariat for Gender Research.

The support provided by the Gender Equality Agency to the government agencies is offered in both the planning and implementation phases of the agencies’ development work. The programme includes, in particular, training activities, identifying and disseminating best practices and documenting the results of the agencies’ work.6

2.1.2. The Equality Ombudsman
 The Equality Ombudsman (Diskrimineringsombudsmannen, DO) is a government agency combatting discrimination and protecting equal rights and opportunities for everyone. The Equality Ombudsman reviews gender equality situations related, for example, to workplaces or educational institutions and oversees their compliance with the Discrimination Act which prohibits discrimination related to gender, transgender identity or expression, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion or other belief, disability or age. 

2.1.3. The Minister for Gender Equality 
Within the Swedish Government, the Minister for Gender Equality is ultimately responsible for gender equality issues. On International Women’s Day, 8 March 2018, Lena Hallengren was appointed as the new Minister for Children, the Elderly and Gender Equality of Sweden. A new minister was needed, as on 7 March 2018, the United Nations SecretaryGeneral António Guterres appointed Ăsa Regnér, the previous Swedish Minister for Children, the Elderly and Gender Equality, as Deputy Executive Director of UN Women with
responsibility for intergovernmental relations and strategic partnerships, as well as Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations.

2.1.4. A Feminist Government 
On its website, the Swedish Government presents itself as “the first feminist government in the world”. The Government also highlights that gender equality is central to its priorities, both in decision-making and resource allocation: “A feminist government ensures that a gender equality perspective is brought into policy-making on a broad front, both nationally and internationally. Women and men must have the same power to shape society and their own lives. This is a human right and a matter of democracy and justice. Gender equality is also part of the solution to society’s challenges and a matter of course in a modern welfare state – for justice and economic development. The Government’s most important tool for implementing feminist policy is gender mainstreaming, of which genderresponsive budgeting is an important component.”
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Sunday, May 13, 2018

Exploring Best Practices in Combatting Violence Against Women: Sweden 1/9

Sweden is the third largest country in the European Union (EU), located in Northern Europe. In January 2018, Sweden had a population of 10 128 320, with an increase of 1,2  % compared with the same period previous year. The increase is partly due to the fact that many foreign citizens have been granted Swedish citizenship in the past two years: in 2017, in total 68 898 persons from over 160 countries became Swedish citizens, which represents an increase of 14 % compared with the previous record in 2016. Syrian citizens were the largest group to be granted Swedish citizenship: in 2017, Swedish citizenship was granted to 8 635 Syrian citizens which is nearly twice as many as in the previous year.

In Sweden, politics take place in the framework of a parliamentary representative democratic constitutional monarchy. Executive power is exercised by the government, led by the Prime Minister. Legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament, elected within a multi-party system. The Judiciary is independent, appointed by the government and employed until retirement. The current democratic regime is a product of a stable development of successively added democratic institutions introduced during the 19th century up to 1921, when also women's suffrage was introduced. 

Sweden is well known for progressive gender politics and an advanced welfare system. The Scandinavian nation is a forerunner of gender equality driven by both an intellectual and practical feminist movement. By the mid-19th century women were given compulsory primary education, and at the start of the 20th century, social change in the realm of gender equality and work life gained traction, with gender neutral language to public offices applications among other accomplishments. By 1921, women had received the vote and present day Sweden consistently ranks among the top countries in the world for gender equality.
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Friday, May 11, 2018

CSW62 (2018) Agreed conclusions 10/10

Strengthen the collective voice, leadership and decision-making 

jjj. Ensure that the perspectives of all rural women and girls are taken into account, and that women, and girls as appropriate, fully and equally participate in the design, implementation, follow-up and evaluation of policies and activities that affect their livelihoods, well-being and resilience, and that women and their organizations, and girl- and youth-led organizations,  are fully, safely and actively able to participate in the decision-making, policies and institutions at all levels, including by promoting and protecting the right to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, the right to vote and to be elected as provided by law, as well as to participate in local and self-governing bodies such as community and village councils, and in political parties and other organizations;

kkk. Mainstream a gender perspective in decision-making processes and the management of natural resources, inter alia, in land, forestry, fisheries, marine and water management bodies, as well as in planning relating to rural infrastructure and services, transportation and energy, leveraging the participation and influence of women in managing the sustainable use of natural resources;    lll. Protect and promote the rights to freedom of association, peaceful assembly and collective bargaining so as to enable rural women workers and entrepreneurs to organize and join unions, cooperatives and business associations, while recognizing that those legal entities are created, modified and dissolved in accordance with national law and taking into account each State’s international legal obligations;    mmm. Ensure that the perspectives of rural women, and girls as appropriate, in armed conflict and post-conflict situations and in humanitarian emergencies are taken into account and that they effectively and meaningfully participate, on equal terms  with men, in the design, implementation, follow-up and evaluation of policies and activities related to conflict prevention, peace mediation, peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction, as well as take into account the perspective of women and girls who are internally displaced and refugees; and ensure that the human rights of all rural women and girls are fully respected and protected in all response, recovery and reconstruction strategies and appropriate measures are taken to eliminate all forms of violence and discrimination against rural women and girls in this regard;    nnn. Ensure that women affected by natural disasters, including those caused by the adverse impacts of climate change, are empowered to effectively and meaningfully participate, on equal terms with men, in leadership and decision-making processes in this regard; 
ooo. Support the effective participation, decision-making and leadership of rural women in enterprises, farmer and fisher organizations, producer cooperatives, trade unions, civil society and other relevant organizations ensuring a safe and enabling environment, and provide support for those organizations, including by investing in programmes that provide opportunities for rural women and girls to exercise their voice, agency and leadership; 

ppp. Develop and implement policies and strategies that promote rural women’s and girls’ participation in and access to the media and information and communications technologies (ICTs), including by increasing their digital literacy and access to information;    qqq. Recognize the important role the media can play in the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls, including through non‑discriminatory and gender-sensitive coverage and by eliminating gender stereotypes, including those perpetuated by commercial advertisements, and encourage training for those who work in the media and the development and strengthening of self-regulatory mechanisms to promote balanced and non‑stereotypical portrayals of women and girls, which contribute to the empowerment of women and girls and the elimination of discrimination against and exploitation of women and girls; 
rrr. Support the important role of civil society actors in promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms of rural women; take steps to protect them, including women human rights defenders, and to integrate a gender perspective into creating a safe and enabling environment for the defense of human rights and to prevent violations and abuses against them in rural areas, inter alia, threats, harassment and violence, in particular on issues relating to labour rights, environment, land and natural resources; and combat impunity by taking steps to ensure that violations or abuses are promptly and impartially investigated and that those responsible are held accountable;

sss. Fully engage men and boys to take an active part in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, including those in rural areas, and the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls both in public and private spheres; design and implement national policies and programmes that address the role and responsibility of men and boys and aim to ensure equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men in caregiving and domestic work; transform with the aim to eliminate those social norms that condone violence against women and girls, and attitudes and social norms by which women and girls are regarded as subordinate to men and boys, including by understanding and addressing the root causes of gender inequality such as unequal power relations, social norms, practices and stereotypes that perpetuate discrimination against women and girls; and engage them in efforts to promote and achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls for the benefit of both women and men, girls and boys.
  47. The Commission recognizes its primary role for the follow-up to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, in which its work is grounded, and stresses that it is critical to address and integrate gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls throughout national, regional and global reviews of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and to ensure synergies between the follow-up to the Beijing Platform for Action and the gender-responsive follow-up to the 2030 Agenda.    48. The Commission calls upon Governments to strengthen, as appropriate, the authority and capacity of national mechanisms for promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, at all levels, which should be placed at the highest possible level of government, with sufficient funding, and to mainstream a gender perspective across all relevant national and local institutions, including labour, economic and financial government agencies, in order to ensure that national planning, decision-making, policy formulation and implementation, budgeting processes and institutional structures contribute to achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, including in rural areas.

49. The Commission calls upon the United Nations system entities, including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme, within their respective mandates, and relevant international financial institutions and multi-stakeholder platforms to support Member States, upon their request, in their efforts to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all rural women and girls.

50. The Commission encourages the international community to enhance international cooperation and to devote resources to developing rural areas and sustainable agriculture and fisheries and to supporting smallholder farmers, especially women farmers, herders and fishers in developing countries, particularly in the least developed countries.    51. The Commission recalls General Assembly resolution 72/181 and encourages the secretariat to continue its consideration of how to enhance the participation, including at the sixty-third session of the Commission, of national human rights institutions that are fully compliant with the principles relating to the status of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights (Paris Principles), where they exist, in compliance with the rules of procedure of the Economic and Social Council.    52. The Commission calls upon UN-Women to continue to play a central role in promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls and in supporting Governments and national women’s machineries, upon their request, in coordinating the United Nations system and in mobilizing civil society, the private sector, employers’ organizations and trade unions and other relevant stakeholders, at all levels, in support of the full, effective and accelerated implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the gender-responsive implementation of the 2030 Agenda, including towards achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls.   

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