International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women 2020

The United Nations dedicates 25th of November to raise awareness and call for the elimination of violence against women. A problem which has been exacerbated particularly during the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns, and which CESI has been paying close attention to through its project on eradicating third-party violence at the workplace.

Ending gender-based violence is reflected in several United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, mainly number 5, hence the significance of dedicating this day to raise awareness and to call for action to end violence against women and girls. This violence can take many forms and is felt throughout women’s lives.

As millions were closed in their homes to protect themselves during the current Corona pandemic, too many victims experienced that being closed at home with their abuser was perhaps a worse perspective than getting ill.

Domestic violence not only rose, it exploded during lockdown: potential unemployment, closed spaces in small apartments, uncertainties about the future and mental problems, are probably reasons for increased stress and hence violence levels. Thus, this year is particularly important and urgent to fight violence against women and girls. In France, according to the French interior ministry, the number of femicides in 2019 already rose by one fifth in comparison to 2018, and it is expected that the situation has deteriorated further in 2020. A situation which is aggravated by the Polish declaration of a potential withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention. Such a declaration means a huge setback for women’s rights in Poland, which have been having a particularly hard year in this regard.

At CESI, we are looking at this problem with close attention. We have been advocating for many years for the end of gender-based violence, for gender equality and for the elimination of violence at the workplace, which mostly targets women. A major project that CESI has been managing for the past two years on zero tolerance towards third party violence at the workplace showed the urgency of discussing these topics and of standing up for equal rights and for the right to a safe and healthy work environment.

Kirsten Lühmann, President of CESI’s Commission on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, commented: “The EU response to the crisis must not only be about financial and economic alleviations. It must include a dedicated social dimension and in particular seek to ensure the safety and security of women. In the European Commission’s response to the COVID-crisis, domestic violence must not fall off the table and become collateral damage of the crisis.”

Klaus Heeger, CESI Secretary-General, continued: “How is one suppose to accomplish one’s tasks and feel fulfilled when one is insecure, unsafe and psychologically stressed? At CESI we are keen to ensure the end of third-party violence at the workplace, and the fact that this type of violence mostly targets women is another symptom of this problem. Days such as these are very important to change mindsets and set targets and goals.”

The United Nations asks us today to say: “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!” CESI stands today with so many other stakeholders, politicians and activists to demand action.