DRAFT 9 March 2017
Gender Perspectives in Political and Democratic Processes
Freely constituted equality group.
Report COE INGO Working groups Tuesday 24th January 2017 Restaurant Dix.
Chair: Anje Wiersinga
Rapporteur: Mary Mc Hugh
1. Minutes of meeting June 2016, circulated late, adopted.
2. Report on October 2016 meeting, circulated.
The agenda sequence is adapted and adopted.
Anje Wiersinga recalled that there will be a second meeting of this group on Thursday 15.15 - 17.00 with time for discussion in more detail.
4. Information on PACE reports in preparation see also item 9, 16, 17.
Anje Wiersinga reported that Ms Gabriela Heinrich, member of PACE, would welcome INGO’s to send her examples of good experience of positive contributions to society by women migrants.
These examples could be included in PACE Report under preparation “Migration from a gender perspective: empowering women as key actors for integration” for which she is the rapporteur.
In the report she intends to focus on the positive side of migration.
Question : who is willing to facilitate this? Did anybody reply?
There is a second PACE Report on the subject under preparation “Protecting refugee women from gender-based violence” Rapporteur : Ms Gisela Wurm
Surrogacy has been discussed within PACE and within the INGO Conference. Anje Wiersinga reported on the Outcome of these Discussions and the contribution of our working group.
a. INGO Conference discussion
The conclusions from a small subgroup of our working group on the proposed draft declaration - formulated by two Standing Committee Members - was that the draft declaration was considered not yet mature enough for publication. It was also felt that the INGO Conference should not get involved into a debate taking place within other pillars of the CoE without being fully informed and aware of the consequences. The full text has been sent to all our group members.
The standing committee concluded in October 2016 : that there was no possibility to get a
consensual INGO statement and that this would be reported to the INGO Conference.
b. PACE discussion
Anje also reported that - after the PACE Co. on Social Affairs had voted down the original report on Surrogacy - PACE discussed in October 2016 the report on the rights of children of surrogacy arrangements. After a heated debate its recommendation was not adopted.
Anje read some of the passages from the official report of the session (AA16CR31) such as that of Gunnarsson “the debate has been very heated and ugly, which is sad” and that of the chair of the PACE Committee “There have been some attacks, some of them unacceptable, on the person of the rapporteur, the members of the secretariat and on me as the chair”
Several members of the working group exported that they also had experience of the complexity of the issue and the strong feelings generated.
Conclusion: surrogacy is not an area for this group to be involved in at this moment.
6. Violence against Women, including GREVIO
Proposal emergency declaration for adoption by INGO Conference on Friday on the situation in Russia, where the Duma is discussing a law to de-criminalise some forms of domestic violence. Content of INGO Declaration: Supporting the recent letter from SG Jaglands on this matter, expressing solidarity to Russian civil society and requesting the SG to follow this up.
Outcome: with the assistance of many a text was formulated and adopted by the INGO Human Rights Committee on Wednesday, translated by the NGO Unit on Thursday, presented and adopted by the INGO Conference on Friday.
The subject will be further discussed in the afternoon session see item 12.
7. Gender Equality Committee (GEC) See also below under item 10.
Anne Negre participates as the INGO Gender Expert in the GEC, the Steering Committee of the Committee of Ministers (CoM). She is involved in one of its working groups, which will propose a recommendation against sexism to be adopted by the CoM.
Anje Wiersinga reported on the GEC November meeting in which she and Anne Negre participated.
The Commissioner for Human Rights of the CoE presented a very interesting report on “Women’s Rights and Gender Equality” in which he lists his priorities. See https://rm.coe.int/CoERMPublicCommonSearchServices/DisplayDCTMContent?documentId=09000016806bfc32 He also expresses his concern about the backlash on gender equality issues.
The backlash against the use of the word 'gender' is having negative effects on women's rights.
Comment - this is what happens when economic pressures marginalise women.
Comment - the use of the word 'gender' is often used to mean 'sexuality' and this can lead to negation of women's rights. See also question on gender under item 17.
Anje Wiersinga recalled the words of Ban Ki-Moon from his address to PACE in 2015 “essential freedoms are curtailed due to raising conservatism and fundamentalism, starting with curtailment of women’s freedoms; the acceptance of these first curtailments of women’s freedom with the excuse of culture or religion will lead to further curtailments, which will be more difficult to stop”.
She also mentioned the example of Malta, who is limiting EU decisions on women's rights at international level due to the fact that the EU accepted the exemption of Malta to respect women’s rights, particularly women’s SRHR, when negotiating Malta’s EU membership.
8. Women – Religion - Peace
Follow up of the INGO side event Women and Religion organized by Anne Negre and the working group on religions see item 10c.
Anje Wiersinga reported on an event in October organized by a member of the PACE Political Affairs Subcommittee Middle East on “Religion against hatred, and for democracy, peace and tolerance” The organisers, the speakers and most of its audience were men. It was all very, very conservative. Women were only mentioned as mothers and “in need to be elevated”.
She spoke about the intervention she made at that meeting in which she spoke about UN SC Res.1325 and women as contributors to peace. Paper tabled and sent with agenda.
One of the participants suggested that all religious leaders should be married.
Another participant mentioned that they (who?) had written a book about women and extremism.
Question to Mary : do you mean with participants one of the working group members present or one of the participants of the side event in October?
9. PACE Report Forced Marriage see item 10b, 15.
Today the PACE Co. on Equality have decided to prepare a report on forced marriage.
Conclusion: Mary Lilling. has volunteered to follow this on behalf of the working group.
Another one of the group could do the same with the PACE report in preparation on situation of women refugees. See item 4, 17.
Comment in French, asked what all the women's organisations in Germany are dining for this situation. Question to Mary is this a typing error Doing? What is meant?
10. Anne Negre joined after SC meeting ended and reported.
a. GEC Tallinn Conference
Anne Negre attended as speaker the Tallinn conference organised in partnership with the Ministry of Social Affairs of Estonia by the CoE Gender Equality Commission. The aims were to discuss the present Council of Europe Gender Equality Strategy, highlight progress and impact, and exchange ideas for the preparation of the next Strategy.
Anne consulted beforehand the members of the working group and according to the responses she started her lecture to emphasize the need for implementation of existing commitments. See the website for the full text. https://rm.coe.int/CoERMPublicCommonSearchServices/DisplayDCTMContent?documentId=0900001680692201
b. Expert group Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Forced Marriage (FM), see item 9, 15. Anne is now identifiable as the Gender Equality Expert of the INGO Conference and gets invited to participate in various meetings, such as the Expert Group on FGM and Forced Marriage, installed by the Committee of Ministers to prepare a tool of good practices against FGM and FM for Member States. She regrets that she received no replies on her questionnaire on the topic. She now needs input from us and our organisations for the recommendations the Expert group is preparing,
See document CDDH-MF (2016)05 and CDDH-MF(2016)R2
c. Women and Religion.
The INGO event of 21st June 2016, initiated by Anne Negre was appreciated by parliamentarians. The proposal of a follow up by a INGO working group has not been supported by the Standing Committee. The questionnaire filled in by (add number) has to be analysed, for which support is needed. So far there is no manpower and no money for the analysis of replies to the enquete.
Anne will mention this again on Friday’s INGO Conference meeting.
Anne has done the acts of the event.
Note: see e-mail of Hugo Castelli of 18-02-2017 for a solution.
d. Unequal pay for equal work
Anne formulated a collective complaint under the social charter, which was submitted by the University Women of Europe against the 15 States accepting collective complaints: Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden, Norway. Its outcome is pending. All information can be found on the website of the 'social charter'.
Comment by someone : in spite of our previous efforts no complaint on the question of unequal pay had been submitted so far. Congratulation to Anne! who finally succeeded.
One of the group asked for a copy of the questionnaire for June. Which questionnaire? Religion? FGM and forced marriage?
Reconvened meeting Thursday 15.15 room 1 Agora
11, Any Other Business
There were no new items.
12. Violence against women. See item 6.
a. Draft recommendation about the proposed Russian legislation on domestic violence This was adopted by the Human Rights Committee this morning, for presenting to the INGO Conference tomorrow. Discussion about whether it is a support letter or recommendation.
NB it became a Declaration adopted by the INGO Conference on 27th January 2017. See
https://rm.coe.int/CoERMPublicCommonSearchServices/DisplayDCTMContent?documentId=09000016806ef688. Putin signed the law on 7th February 2017.
Roadmap is not yet made, Will be distributed by e-mail as soon possible.
NB In June it was decided that Heleen Jansen en Aycke Smook will take up this subject after the roadmap is completed.
c. Istanbul Convention – present situation and what could working group members do.
So far 22 countries have ratified and the Convention came into force on 1 August 2014.
The Convention has a Committee of State Parties in which each of the 22 State Parties
have a seat.
There is also an Expert Committee (GREVIO) which is monitoring the implementation of the convention. It reports to the Committee of State Parties. Its method of work resembles that of the CEDAW. See item 13.
Anne Nègre is member of the Committee of the Parties of the Convention of Istanbul. She explained that a complex questionnaire has been prepared by GREVIO, the independent expert body responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence. This questionnaire is very useful and could be the beginning of reflexions on a shadow report by NGOs and on discussions with GREVIO members during their monitoring visit to their countries.
NB The GREVIO questionnaire - to be filled in by governments - is available on the website.
The question arose : what can INGO’s do?
NGO’s could encourage their governments to sign and ratify. Draft letters are available for writing to governments and parliaments to sign and ratify. English version enclosed.
NGO’s could also be included in the monitoring process by commenting on their government reports in shadow reports sent to GREVIO or by contacting GREVIO members directly.
Conclusion 1) Draft letters to promote ratification will be made available.
2) The Violence against women subgroup will produce a summary of GREVIO process.
3) The roadmap will be finalized and distributed by Heleen Jansen and Anje Wiersinga.
13, CEDAW = Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discriminations Against Women
Discussion of experiences of producing shadow reports followed.
The Convention obliges States parties to submit each 4 years reports on the legislative, judicial, administrative or other measures that they have taken in this field. NGOs can submit so called shadow reports in which they give their views. They will be invited to attend and give evidence to CEDAW committee explaining in person their shadow reports.
NB. The Women’s Human Rights Education Institute in Toronto Canada organsises training programmes on these issues see www.learnwhr.org
Conclusion: Heleen Jansen and Renée Gérard will prepare a document about writing a shadow report.
14. Contributions of INGOs to Committee of Ministers (CoM) Expert Groups
The INGO Human Rights Committee meeting of Wednesday.
There were positive comments on the INGO Human Rights Committee working with the CoM.
Anje Wiersinga explained this further: Jean-Bernard Marie reported that the CDDG has set up expert groups on 5 subjects in which the INGO Conference has been invited to take part as equal participants. The reports of these expert groups with recommendations have to be adopted by the CoM, including mechanisms for monitoring its implementation.
This is exactly what Anje envisages : INGO’s contribution to the work of the other CoE pillars.
One of these expert group is on FGM and Forced Marriages, in which Anne Negre takes part.
15. INGOs Contributions to CoM Expert Group Female Genital Mutilation&Forced Marriages
Anne Negre has sent out a questionnaire on the subject to all of us, but did not get replies. INGO’s can and are requested to send examples of good practices to the Expert group.
Anje Wiersinga reported on the legal position in the Netherlands where FGM cannot be legally taken place. However there is a need to change the culture not just the law. Specialised outpatient clinics are set up in the Netherlands, which are dealing with the treatment of complications of FGM.
Conclusion : 1) INGOs are requested to collect any comments on FGM and forced marriage by inquiring with their national members and governments.
2) Mary Lilings will be asked (and accepted) to coordinate this together with Anne as she already volunteered to follow the PACE report on Forced Marriages.
16. Contribution of INGOs to PACE Reports in preparation. See also item 19.
Anje Wiersinga explains how our working group could also contribute to the work of PACE by following and contributing to PACE reports. Similarly to the participation of INGO representatives in Expert Committees of the Committee of Ministers.
Several of our members are attending the PACE Co on Equality and PACE CoSocial Affairs.
Anje attend the PACE Co on Political Affairs and Democracy and its subco. on Middle East.
A list of PACE reports in preparation can be found on the website. Moreover each PACE Committee provides a list of its own reports. Anje names three such reports in preparation by the PACE Co. on Equality and Non-Discrimination. One on Forced marriages, see item 9 above, and two on migration, see item 4 above and item 17 below.
17. Gender Perspective in Migration
In June we decided to work on the gender perspectives of migration and refugees. A subject which is on the agenda of all CoE pillars, including the INGO Conference.
PACE : There are 2 PACE reports in preparation see item 4 :
a. “Protecting refugee women from gender-based violence” Rapporteur : Mrs Worms,
planned adoption ; 29.01.2018
b. “Migration from a gender perspective: empowering women as key actors for integration” Rapporteur: Mrs Heinz. She will focus on positive examples of women migrants contribution
Planned adoption : 20.06.2018
Anje Wiersinga spoke to both rapporteurs and they will welcome our contributions. Therefore follow and read the draft reports that come up every session, consult your national members and consider your comments/additions etc.
Decision: was somebody named as coordinator of this process?
INGO Conference position on Migration
In April the Standing Committee sent a position paper to the Committee of Ministers. The INGO Working group is preparing a Roadmap on Migration.
Anje Wiersinga raised the question how to better include gender perspectives in the work of the INGOs on this topic.
Question - are there guidelines on “gender perspective”?
Yes, “gender” is defined as the “social and cultural roles ascribed to men and women”. The Istanbul Convention refers to this definition The increasing challenge to the use of the definition was discussed. See also the HR Commissioner report mentioned above, under item 7.
“Gender Perspectives” indicates that women and men have different needs to be met and different contributions to make depending on their biological, social and cultural roles.
Women migrants - some reports state upto 80% - and many minors (boys and girls) have to pay with sexual services along the way and many end up in prostitution to repay their traffickers. The asylum procedures often ignore this as it also ignore how women migrants contribute positively to society. Has this been taken up adequately by the working group on migration?
More information of Hugo Castelli Eyre on the website of Réseau Européen Eglises et Libertés en-re.eu. It includes a draft Recommendation on “Surveillance des avocats : la nécessité de norms garantissant le secret professionnel” “” Business Human Rights Co-development Migrations”
This was followed by a discussion on the complementarity aspects of gender relations and of the involvement of women in the peace process, particularly in negotiations..
18. Women Security and Peace
Our group worked on this subject and the INGO Conference held side events and adopted several Recommendations, Resolutions and Declarations to start with in 2008 on Kosovo, followed since 2011 on countries in the MENA Region. It is therefore important to follow the Political Affairs and Democracy Commission’s work.
In Januari 2016 Anje Wiersinga proposed on behalf of our group – after consultation with the Kosovar Women Network - 5 amendments on the PACE Recommendation on Kosovo, which were all adopted by PACE without any vote against.
The question was asked about women's involvement in the current peace negotiations in relation to the conflict in Syria.
Answer, there are many highly qualified and organized Syrian women, who have worked on this area and have spoken at the COE and at the UN. The women are currently not allowed to take part in the official peace negotiations in Geneva, because some of the factions will not attend if there are women present. As far as known there are Syrian women in Geneva who are being supported by UN Women and consulted by the UN Representative in Geneva. This UN representative at the peace talks is acting as their spokesperson.
Proposal to hold a side event in June and to invite these women to explain the situation and also what they expect us to do.
The question was raised on how exactly to work with the other CoE pillars.
Reply: Ministerial steering and expert committees each have a NGO member nominated by the Standing committee of INGO. These are closed meetings.
As for our contribution to PACE : Attend PACE Committee meetings; read the draft reports which are available and discussed during Committees meetings; attend the hearings during PACE sessions; consult your national members what they can contribute, keeping in mind that the draft texts cannot be distributed since these are confidential. Communicate comments to the Rapporteur or to the secretariat of the Committee. The draft reports can be obtained during the Committee meetings, or from the secretariat.
There was another question on what exactly the task of this group is.
Conclusion: James Barrett and Heleen Jansen should make one A4 with a general description of the tasks of this group.
20. INGO Participatory status
PACE Committees were until recently open to any INGO representative. That is still true for the PACE Co on Equality. For some other Committees one need to ask permission in advance – through the secretariat - to attend. One reason is that confidentiality was not always respected.
Conclusion 1) this subject should be discussed with the Standing Committee
2) Anje Wieringa wanted to be nominated to the Political Affairs and Democracy Committees, so that she - as Chair of the INGO WG Gender-perspectives in Political and Democratic Processes - can follow the discussion and contribute to the Committee’s work.
The question was raised about how this group communicates its activities. We were talking about a closed facebook page but not everybody have facebook.
Conclusion Heleen will contact Per Thran group media to ask if it is possible to make a newsletter.
Anne Negre informed the meeting of the creation of a working group on women and audiovisuals under the responsibility of Eurimages to prepare a resolution.
23. Upcoming Meetings
The next meeting in New York 13-24 March is on Women’s Economic Empowerment.
Anje Wiersinga and Renée Gérard are again willing to represent the INGO conference.
GEC and PACE will send representatives.
b. Hate Speech
Notice of meeting in Berlin Feb 13th on Hate Speech. Details on COE website.
Meeting finished at 16.45