The Women@PACE group is a non-political, cross-party, informal platform open to all women members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe – around 250 or so women.
It was created by the Secretary General of PACE, Despina Chatzivassiliou-Tsovilis, in 2022 on the occasion of International Women’s Day (8 March).
"Women play a major role in our Assembly, and it is important for them to be able to connect and exchange during the parliamentary sessions and beyond,” said the Secretary General, the first woman to hold this post since the creation of the Council of Europe in 1949.
“The ‘Women@PACE’ group will allow them to channel their initiatives, launch debates, consult together, co-ordinate and discuss in an informal way.”
For co-ordination purposes, the group has designated a Bureau – renewed every two years – composed of one representative of each Assembly political group and a non-affiliated member.
The group aims to share experiences, such as learning about Ireland’s successful experience with a Citizens’ Assembly on Gender Equality or hearing from successful women politicians about how they overcame challenges.
It also seeks to bring about change, such as launching concrete initiatives to tackle the main challenges women face today. In April 2022, the group had a discussion on the main challenges for women in the next decade, and a specific survey was also addressed to all women members of the Assembly.
The results of these discussions are shaping the work of a group that will look in the future into topical issues such as the impact of climate change on women, hate speech, the gender pay gap and many others.
For example, identifying barriers in breast cancer detection and treatment to better fight the disease or calling on Council of Europe member States to prevent and combat violence against women and children by investigating the use of rape as a weapon of war in Ukraine.
The Women@PACE group strongly supports women in Ukraine. As one of its initiatives, the group organised a special consignment of flak jackets for women in the Ukrainian parliament as a gesture of solidarity with female colleagues who carry out their democratic duties under potential military attack.
In cooperation with the Equality Committee, the group is also showing solidarity with women and young girls in Iran and calling for urgent political action on their violent repression.