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Welcome all measures aimed at achieving gender equality and preventing any form of discrimination against women. The situation of women is deteriorating, despite their active and full participation in the pro-democracy movements, in many countries ,currently undergoing a process of transition.

A degraded political environment, patriarchal practices and conservative politico-religious principles, together with financial and political austerity measures, have led to serious violations of women’s rights and to the decline of gender equality at all levels and in all spheres.

In Europe, hundreds of thousands of women live in highly precarious conditions and are victims of the rise of extremist and conservative movements whose policies are contrary to their fundamental right to have control over their lives and bodies. In Europe, foreign women face multiple difficulties in claiming their rights, especially the right of asylum and residence.

The Ministers are expected to adopt an action plan aiming at:

a) ensuring gender equality and non-discrimination as laid down in article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;

b) combating gender-based violence by adopting and implementing national and regional restrictive legal frameworks against sexist violence, including sexual harassment (including the Convention of the Council of Europe on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence of 2011);

c) ensuring women’s participation in political, civil, economic and public life, inter alia by coming to an agreement on mandatory quotas as a means to promote such participation (a minimum of 30% with a view to achieving gender parity); developing and reforming judicial systems so as to ensure their independence and impartiality, and also guarantee full and equal access of women to these; d)abolishing any discriminatory articles that are laid down in personal status laws, penal codes and so on;

e) pass laws that guarantee equal rights and fully enforce these laws in the countries where they exist and establish equality committees within Parliaments The action plan should define specific objectives, activities, timeframes, benchmarks, indicators, an independent follow-up mechanism as well as the allocation of responsibilities.

More particularly, this action plan is expected to:
support ,also financially,civil actions, especially feminist organisations, that aim to abolish any discriminatory articles in personal status law, penal code etc.;
support the establishment of an independent regional observatory whose task will be to monitor legislative developments in the region regarding violence against women, provide a rehabilitation program for victims of violence, especially sexual violence, and a regional initiative to end impunity for violent acts against women both in legislation and in practice;
develop legal aid programs for women in order to ensure that they have access to justice and to ensure equal treatment before the courts;
support projects that aim to promote equal economic, social and cultural rights for women ,including women in rural areas, and in particular their right to work and education;
develop gender equality educational programmes in schools and in the media.

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