The Parliamentary Network Women Free from Violence brings together parliamentarians from the national delegations to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and observers and partners for democracy. The Network has been active since 2006, when it contributed to the Council of Europe campaign "Stop domestic violence against women".
The Network provides a vital parliamentary forum for the Council of Europe’s work to end gender-based violence. The Network actively campaigns for the ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention) at national, European and global level and its effective implementation in practice. It also provides its members and national parliaments with information, expertise and practical tools on their role in the monitoring of the implementation of the Convention, through various activities such as hearings, conferences, thematic events, round tables and awareness-raising activities.
The Network has played an important role throughout the process which has led to the entry into force of the Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) and continues its active role, as the Convention foresees a role for parliaments in monitoring its implementation by the State parties.
The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, known as the Istanbul Convention, is ground-breaking in more than one respect. It acknowledges that violence against women is a human rights violation and a form of discrimination. Furthermore, it aims at zero tolerance for this violence by criminalising acts such as physical violence, sexual violence, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, coerced abortion and harassment.
Those significant advances make it a "gold standard" instrument, which supplements existing legal measures and enlarges the international framework with regard to gender equality and the empowerment of women.
The Convention entered into force on 1 August 2014. National parliaments are invited to participate in the monitoring process, in recognition of the major role that they perform in its implementation. The Parliamentary Assembly will also play its full part in the monitoring, and will keep up its commitment through the unprecedented role of evaluation which this treaty confers on it.
Ms Zita GURMAI (Hungary, SOC) was appointed General Rapporteur on violence against women by the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination in October 2020. Her role is to contribute to raising awareness on the phenomenon of violence against women amongst the general public and institutions, be they governmental or non-governmental, and to promote the Istanbul Convention. Ms Gurmai also ensures the political co-ordination of the Network.