As the world celebrates the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25, several European countries have come under criticism for not upholding international standards for women’s rights.
The event presents an opportunity to highlight the struggles women from around the world continue to face every day, including domestic abuse, genital mutilation, online violence, and femicide.
The UN has called for countries to exercise due diligence and to fight pushbacks on gender equality.
And although the European Union has championed progressive politics, a few member-states are still rowing back on women’s rights.
“Some countries have taken a step back. Hungary, Poland, and Turkey are such examples. The Hungarian government has also refused to ratify the Istanbul convention, and Poland has withdrawn from it,” professor of Gender Studies and co-director of the Central European University’s (CEU) Democracy Institute, Eva Fodor, told Euronews.
She said the Hungarian government refuses to endorse EU gender equality measures.
“The Hungarian government has not done a lot to increase equality between men and women. Instead, the government refuses to acknowledge the concept of gender and claims this is one of the reasons why they have rejected the Instanbul convention too,” Fodor added.
“They argue there is no difference of gender, there is only a biological difference between men and women, and use this excuse not to endorse EU gender equality measures and not to put in place other regulations that could protect women.”
Throughout the day, protesters took to the streets across the world to call for those in power to do more to protect women.
“I believe that we cannot do enough to protect women against violence, especially in a context where this kind of violence is increasing because of the pandemic and, again, especially in a context where a lot of governments are refusing to do anything about it,” Fodor continued.
To commemorate the event, the United Nations is launching a 16-day activism campaign, concluding on December 10 for International Human Rights Day.
“Although they represent more than half the world’s population, women and girls the world over are still at risk of being killed and subject to violence, intimidation, and harassment when they speak out – for the simple fact of being women and girls,” the organisation said in a statement.
Iconic buildings and landmarks around the world will be lit in orange to raise awareness for the goal of a violence-free future.