Austria takes the Presidency mandate as the third and last Member State of the current Trio composed by Estonia and Bulgaria. The Trio programmeemphasises a key area on empowerment and protection of all citizens, which is of particular interest to the End FGM European Network, since it entails: gender equality, gender mainstreaming, the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action, empowering young people, coordinated approach to migration, assessment of the best interest of the child, protection of human rights, international cooperation and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Furthermore, End FGM EU welcomes the Trio Presidency Declaration on Equality between Women and Men, which stresses that eliminating all forms of gender-based violence is a precondition for achieving gender equality and highlights the importance of coordinated efforts at EU and Member States level towards this end. We were also very satisfied to see that a specific point in the Austrian Presidency Programme addresses “Women and Gender Equality”, with a particular focus on youth and gender equality as well as on “The Girl Child”. This is extremely relevant for our work, since FGM is a human rights violation perpetrated predominantly on girls and undermining the development of their full potential. As a European Network we actively promote the importance of youth engagement and provide an enabling environment for young people to shape our work.
Moreover, we deem important the focus that your programmatic document puts on young people and gender equality also regarding “Development Cooperation”, specifically when striving to provide economic perspectives in third countries. Working on the root causes of economic dependence of girls and women is key to ensure sustainable development. Gender inequality, discrimination and gender-based violence, including FGM, perpetuate poverty trends, undermine female access to education and to the work market and create imbalanced working societies for both families’ incomes and countries’ economies. Only by addressing such gendered power imbalance women and girls will be able to contribute in their full potential to their personal and societal development.
Finally, we hope that your Presidency will be inspired by the motto “A Europe that protects” not only in relation to enhanced security and border controls, but also towards ensuring that all vulnerable individuals, with particular attention to women and girls affected by gender-based violence (including FGM), who are entitled to international protection can have access to adequate support within the EU.
Building on these elements, on the Council Conclusions "Preventing and combating all forms of violence against women and girls, including female genital mutilation" of June 2014, on the Trio Presidency Declaration on Equality between Men and Women and on the programme and priorities of the Austrian Presidency, End FGM EU calls on the Presidency and the Council to act, in the scope of its competences to:
- Ensure human rights remain a core priority in the EU agenda, notably by mainstreaming human rights issues when relevant in EU legislation and policy, both externally and internally.
- Mainstream gender into the Council’s contributions to EU legislation and policy, in particular those related to human rights, migration and international protection, health, research and data collection, development, women’s rights, children’s rights and the fight against gender-based violence, including FGM.
Moreover, End FGM EU wrote a letter to draw the Austrian Presidency’s attention to a few priority areas that we deem crucial to ensure the end of all forms of gender-based violence, including FGM, in Europe and beyond.
Read the full letter here.