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How parliamentarians can defend the Istanbul Convention and help to keep women safe

The head of the monitoring body for the Istanbul Convention, the Council of Europe’s global treaty to combat violence against women and domestic violence, has again urged all European states to sign up to the Convention – and firmly rejected the suggestion by some governments that national measures are enough to protect women’s rights.

Speaking at a virtual meeting of the parliamentary network “Women free from violence”, Finnish Ambassador Nina Nordström, who chairs the Istanbul Convention’s Committee of the Parties GREVIO, also hailed the Assembly’s handbook for parliamentarians as a powerful tool for defending the Convention and ending gender-based violence.

“It is clear that, despite the great work done by GREVIO and the huge advances made in many member States, there are also many reasons to worry – the Convention continues to be questioned, and the fundamentals of gender equality and women’s rights are still neglected in many countries in Europe,” said Ms Nordström.

“The handbook shows how the wider Convention is worth defending. The argument some governments now make that national measures are enough is simply not correct. No country has solved the problem of violence against women alone, and indeed the reverse is true: countries who have joined the world’s leading binding instrument have all learned a great deal and made improvements to their actions. Most importantly, those who have joined are obliged to continue improving – and financing – measures to keep women safe.”

Ms Nordström encouraged parliamentarians everywhere to make full use of the handbook - in particular, the checklist on how to support the Convention. A number of Network members also spoke about the situation in their countries and gave examples of how the handbook had assisted them in advancing the goals of the Convention.