Say No! Stop Violence Against Women!

Posted on November 23, 2017

Violence against women is a daily reality across the EU. This is a brutal form of discrimination and a violation of women’s fundamental rights. Since the age of 15: one in three women has experienced sexual and/or physical violence; one in three has experienced psychologically abusive behaviour by an intimate partner; one in two (55%) have experienced sexual harassment. In addition to causing severe damage to women, families and communities, the magnitude of the problem is reflected by its economic costs for the European Union, which are estimated to be around 226 million euro per year. It is a real concern that, in 2017, we still cannot guarantee the enjoyment of human rights for all women, knowing that equality between women and men is one of the objectives of the European Union.

Over the years, legislation, case-law and changes to the Treaties have helped supported this principle and its implementation in the EU. But a lot still needs to be done to make this objective reached. At the International Women’s day, in March 2017, Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament, stated that “As long as women are victims of violence, discrimination, mutilation, forced to marriage, while they are excluded from education, the world of labour, economy, and politics, as well as from important posts, we need to struggle 365 days/year to make sure that, in the EU and outside the EU, the women’s fundamental rights are respected. We can’t meet the main challenges we face – war, poverty, unemployment – without having first genuine equality between men and women.”

For her part, Věra Jourová, European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, took the initiative to dedicate 2017 to combating violence against women. The NON.NO.NEIN. Campaign (see #SayNoStopVAW), carried out by the European Commission, aims to raise awareness about the issue of violence against women, drawing attention to the work done by a variety of stakeholders across the EU, and disseminating good practice and connecting stakeholders across borders. More than an awareness-raising campaign, this initiative will support, engage and connect all stakeholders in combatting this problem.

From a nursing perspective, consisting of 92% of women, it is crucial that nurses/women have a strong voice in the design of health and social policies. This will allow to build a resilient health and social ecosystem. And nurses/women are ideally positioned to both lead and support such developments. Many Member States are introducing reforms of the health and social sector designed to improve the relevance, sustainability, efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the current ‘silo system’, which is not sensitive enough towards gender. Policy-makers and politicians have here a golden opportunity to ensure that the reform process addresses the problems of the long-standing inequality between women and men, both as providers and as recipients of care.