8 March – International Women’s Day
A decade to end inequality
Strasbourg, 07.03.2011 - “We must use the second decade of the 21st century to make equality between men and women a reality,” said Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland of the Council of Europe. “Equality in professional and political life is essential to equality and respect in the private sphere.” Highlighting three key areas of concern, the Secretary General stressed the need for equal pay for work of equal value; for increased political participation of women; and for ending once and for all violence against women.
“Every effort must be made to ensure equal remuneration. Difference in pay between men and women for work of equal value cannot be justified. The basic fabric of our societies is supported by professional activity. Inequality is unjust and something we can no longer accept,” Jagland said.
A Council of Europe study shows that between 2005 and 2008 the percentage of elected women in single or lower houses in Europe rose from 21.8 % to only 23.7 %. “Given the importance of political life in defining the priorities and direction of our societies, we need to hear the voices and opinions of women. Women must have an equal presence in politics,” the Secretary General insisted.
Jagland also called governments to give their full backing to the Council of Europe's future Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. This will be the first legally binding text which establishes the principle that violence against women and domestic violence constitutes a violation of human rights and that it should not be regarded as a private matter. The Convention, which should soon be opened for signature, provides governments with the tools to combat violence through a combination of prevention, protection, prosecution and integrated policies.
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