News, August 2015

States at CELAC-EU Summit held June 2015 should do more to eradicate violence against women, in particular its extreme manifestation femicide

Civil Society urges the Heads of State at the CELAC-EU Summit taking place at this moment in Brussels (10 and 11 June) to take effective measures to guarantee that progress is made in the eradication of violence against women.

A much weaker EU Maternity Leave Directive is in the making; current one has been withdrawn

Early July, Commission Vice-President Timmermans officially announced to withdraw the Maternity Leave Directive.

According to the European Women’s Lobby the withdrawal of the Maternity Leave Directive is yet another example of a failure by the leadership of the EU to take positive action for women’s rights and gender equality in Europe. “It sends a very bad message to women and men in Europe about how much the EU can do to support working women and families in their everyday struggle for a decent work-life balance”, states Joanna Maycock, European Women’s Lobby (EWL) Secretary General. Clearly, the withdrawal of the Maternity Leave Directive from the legislative process also seriously undermines the democratic process of the European Parliament’s adopted position of 2010.

Timmermans has announced new plans for a new Maternity Leave Directive to be presented in 2016 (see his Facebookpage). And there has been already a roadmap published outlining the issues that are on the table now towards presenting a new directive. In this new ‘roadmap’ the length of the maternity leave is not mentioned, while this was part of the just cancelled directive. This indicates the new Directive will be weaker compared to the previous one.

GFF: A new Global Financing Facility towards improving female health

The new ‘Global Financing Facility’ (GFF) was launched during the High level conference on Aid Effectiveness in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The creation of the GFF was initiated by the World Bank and the governments of Canada, Norway, and the United States, and announced at the UN General Assembly in September 2014.

The GFF is expected to play a key role in financing for reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health (RMNCAH) and will serve as a major vehicle for financing the proposed SDG on healthy lives. It is being positioned as the most important new funding mechanism for the SDGs and the Post-2015 Agenda, similar to the Global Fund or GAVI.

Gobal Policy Watch have published a briefing that explains the GFF. In concludes that under the cloak of the EWEC initiative and a multi-stakeholder structure, the governance of the GFF seems to be dominated by traditional donors and private foundations. Important decisions about the financial support of national health strategies are taken at the sole discretion of the GFF Investors Group. But the GFF Investors Group is a self-selected, exclusive body and not subject to intergovernmental oversight and mutual accountability mechanisms.

The GFF will be instrumental in consolidating the role of the World Bank as a key financing institution for the Post-2015 Agenda, while leaving only a marginal role for the UN. Thus, the GFF in support of EWEC is a particularly striking example of the shift from inclusive multilateral decision-making within the UN to global club governance in exclusive “partnerships”.

Suzanna Dennis, Senior Research Associate at PAI and member of the Women Major Group on Sustainable Development is cautiously optimistic about the potential of the GFF in bringing new funding to sexual and reproductive health, “but it will take the continued engagement of champions to make sure that GFF funds are additional and that they benefit the sexual and reproductive health of women and girls in the developing world” (see her blog: GFF Gets a Lifeline In Addis).

European Parliament adopts Resolution that calls for a stronger EU Strategy for Equality between Women and Men

The EU’s new post-2015 Gender Equality Strategy needs clearer targets, practical actions and more effective monitoring to make real headway against discrimination in the labour market, education and decision-making, says a non-binding resolution adopted by the European Parliament. It also says specific actions are needed to strengthen the rights of women with disabilities, migrant and ethnic minority women, Roma women, older women, single mothers and LGBTI women.

The resolution was adopted by 341votes to 281, with 81 abstentions, early June 2015. The rapporteur, Maria Noichl (S&D, DE), said: “Despite our differences, MEPs focused on our key aim: to finally achieve real gender equality in Europe.” She added: “The resolution will serve as a good, balanced and forward-looking basis for a new women’s rights and gender equality strategy for all women and men in the EU.”

Global Survey Shows Rising Women’s Participation in Co-Operatives

A joint survey of the ILO and the International Co-Operative Alliance reflects on gains for women in co-operatives while pointing to the need for better recognition by governments. Key findings indicate that co-operatives are having an increasingly positive impact on women: 80 per cent of survey respondents felt that co-operatives are better than other types of private or public sector business in advancing gender equality.

According to survey respondents, cultural issues are the most significant barrier to gender equality encountered by co-operatives. This was overwhelmingly felt by 65 percent of survey respondents. The poll results show that access to employment is being indirectly facilitated by co-operatives in fields such as housing, healthcare, childcare, and eldercare, which provide women with affordable and accessible services that enable them to work.

Registration open to Women Deliver Conference 2016

Women Deliver’s 4th Global Conference, taking place 16-19 May 2016, in Denmark, will be the largest gathering on girls’ and women’s health & rights in the last decade and one of the first major global conferences following the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The focus of the conference will be on how to implement the SDGs so they matter most for girls and women, with a specific focus on health – in particular maternal, sexual, and reproductive health and rights – and on gender equality, education, environment, and economic empowerment. The organizers expect 5,000–6,000 attendees in 2016.

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