25 November is the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Starting on this year’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and for the next two years, UN will focus on preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls.
The 2019 theme for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is ‘Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands Against Rape’. The theme will focus on the issue of rape as a specific form of harm committed against women and girls in times of peace or war. Like in previous years, this year’s International Day will mark the launch of 16 days of activism that will conclude on 10 December 2019, which is International Human Rights Day.
Women’s rights are under pressure in the entire European Region. Especially the right to safety: 1 in 4 women have experienced physical violence, experienced some form of physical violence, psychological violence and (death) threats, sexual abuse or rape, financial exploitation, human trafficking, online harassment, loss of work / income or housing.
And domestic violence effects children too, who are at least silent witnesses or victims themselves and have a huge risk of domestic violence being repeated later in life. They too have the right to grow up in safety.
IFSW European members observe that while that nations have agreed with the Instanbul Convention, in every country and community there is a lack of commitment to implement a comprehensive approach covering the areas of prevention, protection (including provision of support services for survivors), prosecution, and coordinated policies.
Social Workers are advocates for the (rights of) women and children and commit themselves to enhancing the well-being of women and girls as an essential aspect of the profession’s ethical and practice commitment to human rights. Social workers are involved in the broadest range of professional activities that are critical to the well-being of women and girls.
Following the Istanbul Convention, IFSW expressed its commitment to women by using our regional network within IFSW to focus on how effective social policies to protect women are. Do they have easy access to safety, like women’s shelters or is the path to claim their right to safety obstructed? Do women have the right to choose abortion, or do they have to get support from an advocate that works for a strong religious organisation that is actually against ending a pregnancy? Are women really taken seriously when they report violence to the police, or are they send home to ‘talk to their partner’ and sort things out? And in cases of sexual violence; are prosecutors inclined to bring their cases to justice or do they choose to close the case because finding evidence is too time-consuming and complex?
These are the experiences where we as social workers can make huge differences. Social workers use the IFSW European Region to share experiences and map how women can access their rights to safety, to find out how social policies have taken form and are in line with human rights.
IFSW Europe commit to prioritise violence against women:
- IFSW supports the full participation of women in all decision-making bodies and processes that affect the political, economic, social, educational, and health concerns of women and girls;
- IFSW Europe will collect and address circumstances in which women are hindered or obstructed to their right to safety.
- IFSW Europe will make a statement and use their influences and lobby opportunities to address the problems in social policy and social media.
- The rights to safety and women’s rights are a global issue and the realities of women world wide are hugely different. Therefore IFSW Europe will support/ initiate to bring the rights of women to the global agenda.
- IFSW Europe will request their national associations to campaign for the rights and safety of women.
IFSW Europe calls upon social work schools to incorporate women’s rights and domestic violence in their curriculum as an official part of social work. IFSW Europe recognizes the need to expand the social work knowledge base and improve the skills of professional social workers as they relate to the needs of women, equip them with the knowledge and courage to address problems in policy and law.
IFSW Europe calls social workers to stand up for the needs of women, and especially for women in disadvantaged situations like indigenous, poor, migrant and displaced groups who have higher risks of experiencing domestic violence in their lives and less opportunities to protect themselves.
This Statement has been written
by Kristine Evertz as co-writer (Secretary Boardmember the Dutch National Association BPSW)
and with the support of Karin Landsbergen, Josien Hofs ( The Dutch National Association BPSW) and Rory Truell, IFSW Secretary General
President of IFSW Europe