In November last year EWL Executive Committee attended the European Colloquium in Brussels. The discussion explored avenues for action to ensure women’s rights and work towards gender equality in the EU. Click on European Commission’s 2017 Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights in Brussels. where you can listen to the discussions in the different forums if you are interested.

The focus was on “Women’s rights in turbulent times”. The objective of the Annual Colloquium is “to improve mutual co-operation and greater political engagement for the promotion and protection of key fundamental rights in the EU.”

The  Colloquium brought together political decision-makers in the European Union, representatives of civil society organisations, leading academics, businesses and trade unions, media representatives, journalists, and international organisations to reflect together, from a fundamental rights perspective, on the relationship between strong fundamental rights for women, and resilient democratic societies. The wide range of topics for discussion included:

  • the link between misogyny in society and the violation of the fundamental rights of women;
  • women’s economic and political empowerment and the key obstacles to gender equality;
  • the international women’s movement and the shrinking space for civil society;
  • violence against women and links to other forms of violence in society;
  • gender stereotypes, culture, and attitudes.

Our core message at the Colloquium was it is time for reinvigorated change and political impetus to put women’s rights and gender equality back at the centre of the EU project. Evidence drawn for European Institute for Gender Equality – Gender Equality Index here shows that progress has stalled and it is time for urgent action including a new gendered EU budget, a reinforced institutional dialogue on women’s rights, ministerial meetings and a process to bring women’s voices back into the heart of the political discussion about the future of Europe. Despite the large number of people attending the Colloquium we were able to join in the discussions and raise issues including VAW and ratification of the Istanbul Convention, gender budgeting and resourcing the women’s movement, care responsibilities and work-life balance proposed directive, improved maternity leave and rights, gender pension gap and pay gaps, political strategy connecting all core policy areas (gender mainstreaming). The discussions were coherent and arguments forcefully made. The Executive Committee have invited Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President, European Commission, to join us at a future executive meeting and share our thoughts on the session and how issues might be taken forward.