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Tackling Gender-based Violence in Europe: Advancing Strategies to End Violence against Women and Girls

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Tackling Gender-based Violence in Europe: Advancing Strategies to End Violence against Women and Girls

Tackling Gender-based Violence in Europe: 
Advancing Strategies to End Abuses Against Women and Girls
Thon Hotel Brussels City Centre, Brussels
Tuesday 20th February 2018


According to the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) one in three women has experienced violence since the age of 15. Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) is linked to structural inequalities between genders in many aspects of life, representing their most terrible expression. The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) 2017 Gender Equality Index showed that progress comes at a very slow pace in this matter. The overall EU’s score on gender equality is now 66.2 out of 100 (just four points higher than ten years ago), but levels of inequality differ widely across Member States.

Gender-based violence constitutes a breach of human rights. Article 3 of the Istanbul Convention defines it as the “violence that is directed against a woman because she is a woman or that affects women disproportionately”. The Istanbul Convention constitutes the most comprehensive binding international instrument addressing violence against women and domestic violence. All EU Member States are parties to it, but not all of them have ratified it. So far, EU institutions – often separately – have addressed gender-based violence mainly through political and soft-law instruments, guiding principles and capacity building programmes. 2017 was designated by the European Commission as a year of focussed actions to combat violence against women. During the fall of the same year, in the wake of the global sexual abuse and harassment scandals, the European Parliament adopted a resolution of strong condemnation, calling for a zero tolerance policy. Notwithstanding this, a comprehensive and common EU strategy on to address VAWG is still lacking. The fact that in June 2017 the EU signed the Convention, as the first official step of the process of its accession, may testify a renewed policy attention to the issue.

In the increasingly connected world, VAWG also affects the digital space. Further data from FRA shows that one in ten women has experienced some form of cyber violence, with effects that are as disastrous as those of off-line forms of violence. Cyber VAWG comes in many forms, but both its legal definiton and the consequent protections are not yet clearly defined and fall within the scope of national legislation. On the other hand, a pending challenge still comes from eliminating violence caused by harmful traditions such as early and forced marriages, Female Genital Mutilations (FGMs), forced sterilisations and abortions.

This International Symposium will provide a timely opportunity to analyse the available instruments and the existing challenges in shaping a truly comprehensive and holistic strategy for tackling gender-based violence in the EU. It will also support the exchange of ideas and encourage delegates to engage in thought-provoking and topical debate with local and regional practitioners and policy makers at EU level.

Delegates will:

  • Examine the current legislative framework for tackling gender-based violence and discuss the consequences of EU accession to the Convention of Istanbul
  • Evaluate concrete actions carried out by the EU institutions to eradicate all forms of violence against women and girls and reduce gender inequalities
  • Understand emerging forms of online gender-based violence and abuse
  • Discover sustainable solutions, preventative  measures and methods for successful public engagement and awareness raising
  • Discuss methods to successfully target offenders and securing prosecution
  • Share ideas on holistic strategies for empowering and protecting victims of gender-based violence in social and public spaces
  • Explore examples of best practice and models of intervention to protect women with specific vulnerabilities


09:15 Registration and Morning Refreshments
10:00 Chair’s Welcome and Opening Remarks
10:10 Reinforcing the European Framework to Combat and Prevent Gender-based Violence

  • Considering the Consequences of EU’s Signature (and Ratification) of the Convention of Istanbul
  • Gaining Insight into EU’s Non-Binding Actions Against VAWG: the NON.NO.NEIN Campaign
  • Discussing Prospects for a Common and Comprehensive EU Strategy
  • Evaluating Progress on Women Equality in the EU: the 2017 Gender Equality Index
10:40 First Round of Discussions
11.10 Morning Coffee Break
11:30 Developing Effective Strategies to Target VAWG Offences

  • Taking Claims Seriously: Ensuring Timely Investigations of Allegations
  • Securing Effective Prosecution of Perpetrators of VAWG
  • Training Professionals who Provide Assistance to Victims of Violence
  • Examining the Access to Justice and Services Under the Victims’ Rights Directive
12:00 Second Round of Discussions
12.30 Networking Lunch
13:30 Tackling Gender-based Violence in the Digital Space

  • Defining Forms of Cyber Violence against Women and Girls
  • Preventing and Combating Online Sexist Hate Speech: Reducing Acceptance through Gender-sensitive Education of Men
  • Providing a Safe and Empowering Digital Space for Women
  • Disproving Gender Stereotypes Through Technology and New Media
14.00 Third Round of Discussions
14:30 Afternoon Coffee Break
14:50 Ensuring Targeted Prevention and Protection of Vulnerabilities

  • Combating Women’s Homelessness and Preventing Violence through Housing Provider Involvement: the Safe at Home Project
  • Ending FGM and Other Harmful Traditional Practices
  • Making the Workplace a Safe Environment for Women: Developing Policies to Eradicate Sexual Harassment and Gender-based Violence
  • Raising Awareness in Social and Public Spaces: Building Up a Network of Support for Victims
15.20 Fourth Round of Discussions
15:50 Chair’s Summary and Closing Remarks
16.00 Networking Reception and Refreshments
16.30 Symposium Close
Location: Thon Hotel Brussels City Centre, Brussels
Date: February 20, 2018
Duration: 1 Day
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