The World Forum for Democracy 2016

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world-forum-for-democracyThe 2016 World Forum for Democracy will focus on the relationship between education and democracy. Education is central to democratic societies. Schools, universities, civil society organisations and other learning institutions should encourage the acquisition and practice of values and skills which are essential for democracy.

Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, the French Minister of Education will speak on 7 November during the Forum’s opening session. She was the first French woman to be appointed Minister of Education, Higher Education, and Research. Previously she was Minister of Women’s Affairs, Minister of City Affairs, Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports, and Government spokesperson.

The Forum will involve political decision-makers, inspirational speakers, innovators and social entrepreneurs, as well as leaders from education, civil society, media, academia, youth movements and business.

The Forum official programme will consist of plennary sessions, keynote introductions and a joint debate, a serious as focused working sessions – labs. The event is expected to involve up to 2,000 participants. Many more will participate in satellite events across the world, as well as on social networks.

The Forum is open to the public and participation is free of charge.

Online registration form is open here:

Deadline for registration: 21 October 2016.

More information here:


Introducing Serap Maktav new CER Turkey

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serap-maktavBorn in Ankara, Turkey, I studied Psychology in Middle East Technical University followed by  M.Sc. in Child Psychology  at Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s. Nfld. I completed my Ph.D. in Experimental Child Psychology in Ankara University during the initial years of my marriage and birth of my son. Also while working as Assistant in the University. I continued to teach in University, both undergraduate and graduate students of Psychology for around 8 years after which I joined UNICEF. I started as a National Officer (Programme Planning) in Turkey and after 8 years became international and had great experiences in Central and South Asia countries, first in Turkmenistan as Assistant Representative, then in Pakistan as Deputy Representative and finally in the Regional office of South Asia, Kathmandu being responsible for Child Protection of the 8 south Asia countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Maldives). As indicated above I have a son, married, living and working as Bio-medical Engineer in USA.
I returned to Turkey in 2007 when I retired from UNICEF and   became a member of Ankara Branch of TAUW in 2008. Since then I have served as the Executive Board member and for a short period as the President of Ankara Branch, and since 2016 June as Executive Board member and CER of HQ.
I have attended CSW meetings of 2011 and 2013 as part of the IFUW delegation, and was a member of LAC for the IFUW Triennial Conference held in Istanbul in 2013. I believe in the importance of education of girls which will enable them to be empowered with knowledge, have a career enabling their economic independence. I look forward to working closely with the UWE Board and ensuring that our branches have productive partnerships with member countries.

International conference on gender, refugees and security

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univ-gotenburgGADIP (Gender and Development in Practice) invites you to an International conference on gender conditions for Refugees during and after Refuge, on 21-22 October, GÖTEBORG.

The conference has two overarching themes:

1. Gender perspectives on refugees in Sweden and Europe.
2. Refugees, security and gender balance

The refugee issue will be discussed from a gender and security perspective. Which are the implications of security for the different actors involved in refugee process before, during and after refuge for women and men? Many of these have tried to get to Europe and some have succeeded. Many have lost their lives on the road and others hampered by political obstacles.

The conference is free and open to anyone interested of this issue, regardless of political, religious, academic or organizational background.

Some of the activities during the conference will be in English, other in Swedish.

You are warmly welcome to register by 17 October/the latest via link:

For questions or more information about the conference, please contact: 

The conference is organised by two actors – one is GADIP, an apolitical non-profit organization consisting of researchers and associations active in order to create a meeting place where theory and practice come together in a dialogue with a gender perspective on the current co-social issues, and a research group called MERGU, Migration and ethnicity research at Gothenburg University. The aims of these groups is to strengthen cooperation between research and practice.

More information about GADIP activities here on Facebook: GADIP – Gender and Development in Practice


First female President in Estonia

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The University of Tartu

Edith Lommerse, President of University Women of Europe, will participate to the International conference of the university women of the Nordic-Baltic countries “Academic women through time and changes: national and international cooperation” to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Estonian Association of University Women on 8 th October, Tartu.

Participants from Finland, Sweden, Norway, Lithuania and Russia are expected to come and meet with current and former members of the association. Here you can read the entire programme.

We wish them a successful conference and looking forward to hear more about the activities of EAUW in Tallinn.

Photograph: Valda Kalnina/EPA

Until then, news coming from Estonia is encouraging for women leaders, the Parliament has selected a new president who will be the country’s first female leader.

Kersti Kaljulaid, 46, accountant, wins unanimous vote:  81-0, with 20 members absent or abstaining.

The choice of Kaljulaid, who works at the European court of auditors, became possible after the six parliamentary parties agreed to propose a political outsider as a single candidate.

Her election came after the failure of an electoral college to choose a president from five candidates last month. Politicians were unable to pick a president from four candidates in August, according to the Guardian.





Black Protests – University Women of Europe in solidarity with women in Poland!

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polish-women-on-strikeToday, on 3rd October, women in Poland will take off work, school and home work to join the protest against a plan to take away the freedom from them to decide about their own bodies and their pregnancies. They will all be wearing black to demonstrate mourning and sadness on a national strike called: #BlackProtest #CzarnyProtest .

Women organisations across Europe in solidarity with women in Poland are reacting strongly against the decision taken by Polish lawmakers to push on with a near total-ban on abortion.

The law in Poland now allows an abortion only in one of the three dramatic cases: if the pregnancy is of life risk to the pregnant woman, if the fetus is very seriously ill or when the pregnancy is an effect of a crime (rape). Nobody forces women to perform an abortion on their bodies in any of the three cases. But the new law not only bans any abortion completely, but also defines that the human life starts with conception – the consequences of which will be a legal investigation and prison punishment for women as well as anyone possibly involved for any kind of pregnancy termination (a women who miscarried will be investigated to find out whether this was not an act of abortion), ban of in-vitro pregnancies, limitation to ban of prenatal examination (as they might lead to miscarriages or the decision of an abortion).

How can we get involved and react?

• Sign this open letter in solidarity with women in Poland and to support women grassroots movements by helping them to fundraise. This is a We move Europe initiative in partnership with the European Women’s Lobby (EWL).
• Write a letter to the Polish Embassy in your country calling for Poland’s obligation to protect human rights and asking Polish decision-makers to listen to the demands of women’s rights organisations.
• Join the social media actions posting pictures in black clothes, hashtag #czarnyprotest (black protest) so that the protest becomes even more viral. Use also the hashtag: #ODZYSKACWYBOR, to show solidarity with women in Poland.
• Share on social media the EWL and We move  Europe campaign visuals calling on several decision makers in Poland and at EU to react and ensure women’s human rights (find them at the bottom of this site).

The bill to liberalise abortion proposed by women’s rights organisations was rejected by the Polish Parliament without any further debate. Here you will find the full text in English of the proposed bill.

The bill proposed by “Save Women” was calling to allow abortion on request in the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy, increase access to contraception and sex education, and preserve existing exceptions for fetal anomalies until the 24th week, and for rape or sexual abuse until the 18th week.  In June this year, the EWL sent a letter to the Polish Government calling for Poland’s obligation to protect human rights and asking Polish decision-makers to listen to the demands of women’s rights organisations.

We’re with women in Poland,  women rights are under a huge threat, please sign the petition and show solidarity !

Read more about this subject:



Council of Europe consultations on civil society participation in Romanian public decision-making

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A delegation of the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe met with representatives of Romanian NGOs and public authorities in a fact-finding visit in Romania, on 12 and 13 September 2016.

University Women of Romania represented by President Alexandrina Niculescu and UWE Secretary General Roxana Elena Petrescu were invited to take part at the debates.

The purpose of the meeting was to know more about Romania’s recent experience with civil society participation in the public decision making process, clarify with the authorities the political priorities in this area and existing tools for civil society participation and to establish direct collaboration between the Romanian stakeholders and the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe.

The meetings in Bucharest were organised in partnership with the Civil Society Development Foundation and were funded by the Council of Europe, cofinanced through the NGO Fund within the EEA Grants 2009-2014. 60 NGO representatives working in various fields (human rights, education or good governance, social services, volunteering) took part in the consultations. The debates covered various difficulties that the NGOs meet in conducting their advocacy activities, means to identify the necessary resources to improve their current situation and the relationships NGOs develop with various public institutions.

The NGO consultations were followed by meetings with representatives of the Romanian Presidency, the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Protection and the Elderly, the Ministry for Public Consultation and Civic Dialogue as well as of the Romanian Parliament.

At the end of the visit, Ms. Anna Rurka, President of the INGO Conference of the Council of Europe, stated that “the political and organizational efforts deployed by the current government to consult the NGOs are visible. We congratulate the authorities for the several innovative solutions which have been presented to us. We are impressed by the dynamism of the NGO sector, its determination to be heard and to promote its expertise. The NGO sector, which is investing a lot of resources to answer the authorities’ requests, needs to see the effects and impact of its proposals. We encourage the authorities to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the law-making process and to avoid the excessive use of the ‘emergency ordinance’, which diminishes both public and political consultation. The lost opportunities for constructive collaboration between public authorities and NGOs is too high a price to pay for both sides – and detrimental to democracy in Romania. We are aiming for more transparency and openness in the public decision making process in the Member States of the Council of Europe”.

A report about this fact-finding visit will follow soon.



UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women – Call for Submissions

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The Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Ms. Dubravka Šimonović took up function as Special Rapporteur on 1 August 2015 and intends to, inter alia, focus on the legal and policy frameworks of her mandate and the international human rights mechanisms to discuss the gap in incorporating and implementing the international and regional standards related to violence against women.
The Special Rapporteur considers that the discussion on the adequacy of the international legal framework on violence against women initiated by the former mandate holder should continue and she wishes to secure views from different stakeholders, including States, National Human Rights Institutions, Non-governmental organizations, as well as members of academia.
She has launched a consultation on the gap of transposing and implementing international and regional standards on violence against women.
Taking into consideration the important role that different stakeholders play in reinforcing universal human rights standards, she would be very interested to receive input and views on the following questions:
1.    Do you consider that there is a need for a separate legally binding treaty on violence against women with its separate monitoring body?
2.    Do you consider that there is an incorporation gap of the international or regional human rights norms and standards?
3.    Do you believe that there is a lack of implementation of the international and regional legislation into the domestic law?
4.    Do you think that there is a fragmentation of policies and legislation to address gender-based violence?
5.    Could you also provide your views on measures needed to address this normative and implementation gap and to accelerate prevention and elimination of violence against women?
European Women’s Lobby is planning to send a EWL Contribution and, as it is an important consultation, we would like to ask to send your input and views on the questions asked by the UN Special Rapporteur. EWL preliminary comments/clarifications are the following ones:
Q1:  The EWL does not have a specific position on this issue specific point yet, so it will be very interesting to have your views on this. It can be interesting to highlight the positive aspects of the Istanbul Convention but also what it is missing.
Q2: By incorporation gap, we understand if international or regional human rights norms and standards have been signed/ratified. We would appreciate very much if you can give examples of international/regional standards have not been signed/ratified or if there have been major reservations.
Q3:  By lack of implementation of the international understand into the domestic law we understand gaps in the transposition of the international/regional legislation into the domestic law. Again, it will be great if you can give examples of gaps in transposition into legislation and also gaps in implementation.
Q4:  We will push for the use of the term “violence against women” in all the contribution. EWL will argue that there is fragmentation of policies and legislation and different levels of protection of women in Europe.
Q5:  Your ideas will be very welcomed, and it would be good to link this reply to the reply given to the first question.
Please, send your contributions to and 
We would be very grateful to receive your replies by the 20th of September, so that it will be enough  time to compile all the replies into the EWL Contribution.
We will send you back the final EWL Contribution by the 28th of September so that you can use it as well if you want to send your own contributions on behalf of your organisations. The final deadline for the UN to receive the contributions is the 1st of October.
Thank you very much in advance,
many regards from the Board,
Roxana Elena Petrescu
Secretary General