PES Women on International Human Rights Day: “Women’s rights are human rights”

10/12/2021

Meeting online today, the PES Women Executive marked International Human Rights Day by reiterating that gender equality is a fundamental right that must be defended.

PES Women is deeply concerned by the backlash against women’s rights and gender equality in many parts of the world, including in Europe. Sexual and reproductive health and rights, and thus women’s safety, are threatened by conservative forces, from Poland to the United States. An athlete in China is being silenced for demanding justice for her sexual assault. In Afghanistan, under the Taliban regime, women and girls are beaten, murdered and denied their security and hard-won freedoms as equal citizens. Women´s rights defenders in Belarus and other places of unrest are being assaulted and threatened for daring to stand up for their rights and democratic demands. Female journalists are targeted for doing their job.

Gender-based violence is a brutal reality for women and girls in their daily lives and they have also become more marginalised as citizens and economic actors. The right of women to lead lives free from violence and discrimination and to live, love and act as they choose must never be treated as a secondary concern by society. That was the message sent by PES Women’s Executive members today. 

PES Women President Zita Gurmai said:

“2021 has been a tough year for women’s rights. We want to raise our voices on this day to highlight that women’s rights are human rights. Let’s never forget that! We need a collective outcry and accountability from the highest political level. Women´s organisations have spoken up enough, it´s time that we are heard and that concrete actions are put in place.

“Whenever we talk about rule of law, democracy, external policy or the future of Europe, women’s rights must be a central concern. Intersectional gender equality must be mainstreamed across all rights-based programmes and policy initiatives. That is why international agreements like the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Istanbul Convention are so important, because they clearly express this link between gender equality and human rights.”

The Executive also reflected on PES Women’s achievements during the past year, including many successful campaigns, such as #MakeHerCount for International Women’s Day (8 March), European Unequal Pay Day (10 November), and the #Linecrossed manifestation against gender-based violence for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (25 November).

Looking ahead to 2022, PES Women is ready to continue the fight for gender equality and to further call on national, European and International actors to step up efforts to ensure women’s human rights everywhere.