2020 HELP Network e-Conference, Strasbourg 8-9 July

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The HELP Annual Network Conference is the main gathering of the HELP Network members and partners. It provides a forum to present the latest HELP courses developed and key HELP projects. It is also a forum for discussion on how to enhance the impact of human rights training and how to improve effective co-operation among all members and partners of the HELP Network.

In 2020, due to the limitations caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, the HELP Network Conference will exceptionally be held in an entirely online format.

Click here to see the Agenda 

The objectives of the conference are:

  • To highlight the response of the Council of Europe Programme on Human Rights Educational for Legal Professionals (HELP) to the situation caused by the coronavirus outbreak
  • To mark the 70th anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights
  • To inform on the current challenges for the respect of certain rights guaranteed with the ECHR and on the HELP response to those challenges through the HELP online courses
  • To present the developments in the HELP Programme since the 2019 HELP Network Conference:
    • an update on the HELP projects and initiatives
    • newly developed or updated HELP courses
  • To provide the HELP Network members a forum for addressing their peers 
  • To present to the HELP Network the newly established Open Council of Europe Academic Network (OCEAN) and discuss links and synergies between OCEAN and HELP

Click here to join e conference 

Interpretation available in English, French

Select your preferred language on the video toolbar

Link active on 8-9 July 2020

 

 

The European Committee of Social Rights adopted 15 decisions on state compliance launched by UWE for violations of the European Social Charter

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https://www.coe.int/

The European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) has adopted 15 decisions (see links below) on state compliance with the right to equal pay, as well as the right to equal opportunities in the workplace, following complaints which were lodged within the framework of the collective complaints procedure by University Women Europe (UWE) on August 24, 2016. The decisions concern the 15 States which have accepted the complaints procedure (Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden), were adopted by the ECSR on 5 and 6 December 2019 and became public today, 29 June 2020. “It’s up to you to make them effective, to disseminate them as widely as possible in the countries of the European continent. It’s up to you to continue the fight so that this deep injustice of unequal wages between women and men ceases, as well as the absence or the few women on the boards of directors of companies and executive committees. Good luck with these actions!” – Dr. Anne Bergheim-Nègre, President UWE.

The decisions identify clear and strong standards in the field of equal pay and, more precisely, they require that the right to equal pay has to be guaranteed in law. The ECSR has identified the following obligations for States:

  • To recognise the right to equal pay for equal work or work of equal value in their legislation;
  • To ensure access to effective remedies for victims of pay discrimination;
  • To ensure and guarantee pay transparency and enable pay comparisons;
  • To maintain effective equality bodies and relevant institutions in order to ensure equal pay in practice.

Moreover, the right to equal pay implies the obligation to adopt measures to promote it. This obligation has two elements: on the one hand, collecting reliable and standardised data to measure and analyse the gender pay gap and, on the other hand, designing effective policies and measures aimed at reducing the gender pay gap on the basis of an analysis of the data collected. The States are also under an obligation to show measurable progress in reducing the gender pay gap.

The ECSR acknowledges that the gender pay gap is no longer solely or even primarily a result of discrimination as such. The gap arises mainly from differences in the so-called “average characteristics” of women and men in the labour market. These differences result from many factors, such as horizontal segregation, where there is the concentration of one sex in certain economic activities (sectoral gender segregation) or the concentration of one sex in certain occupations (occupational gender segregation), as well as vertical segregation. The decisions highlight the positive obligations of States to tackle these phenomena in the labour market, including by promoting the advancement of women in decision-making positions within private companies.

14 out of the 15 States were found to be in violation of one or more of the above-mentioned aspects of the obligation to guarantee the right to equal pay and the right to equal opportunities in the workplace. However, the ECSR also noted various positive developments. Measures taken by some States in recent years have led to some progress in reducing the gender pay gap, but the progress is slow. The ECSR’s decisions clearly demonstrate that problems and practices, such as segregation in the labour market, lack of pay transparency, secrecy regarding pay levels, obstacles to access effective remedies and retaliatory dismissals continue to exist and prevent full realisation of the equal pay principle.

The decisions on the merits of the complaints lodged by UWE:

No. 124/2016 University Women of Europe (UWE) v. Belgium

No. 125/2016 University Women of Europe (UWE) v. Bulgaria

No. 126/2016 University Women of Europe (UWE) v. Croatia

No. 127/2016 University Women of Europe (UWE) v. Cyprus

No. 128/2016 University Women of Europe (UWE) v. Czech Republic

No. 129/2016 University Women of Europe (UWE) v. Finland

No. 130/2016 University Women of Europe (UWE) v. France

No. 131/2016 University Women of Europe (UWE) v. Greece

No. 132/2016 University Women of Europe (UWE) v. Ireland

No. 133/2016 University Women of Europe (UWE) v. Italy

No. 134/2016 University Women of Europe (UWE) v. the Netherlands

No. 135/2016 University Women of Europe (UWE) v. Norway

No. 136/2016 University Women of Europe (UWE) v. Portugal

No. 137/2016 University Women of Europe (UWE) v. Slovenia

No. 138/2016 University Women of Europe (UWE) v. Sweden

 

French Version here:

Des écarts de salaire entre les femmes et les hommes subsistent en Europe

 

Bringing the SDGs Home – Guide

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On 5th June is celebrated the World Environment Day, the United Nations day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action to protect our environment. Corona Virus pandemic had a profound impact on the environment and if we are able to rethink our life, we can be motivated to be more eco-friendly in our day to day lives: with the technology and employer policies of teleworking, we can only hope jobs that can be done remotely should stay that way, to minimize the carbon emissions and other air pollutants, people will have learned to be more resourceful and less wasteful during this time, shopping more sustainably out of necessity, the whole world doesn’t need to stop for positive environmental changes to happen, but small lifestyle adjustments from people all over the world that can go a long way to help the environment.

Whether or not you have just been introduced to the idea of sustainable living or have been trying to better your lifestyle for a while now, thanks to Catriona Sutherland – CER Scottish Federation of University Women, we found out that UN Association Scotland has just completed a beautifully composed guide on how to incorporate the SDGs into your home living: A Simple Guide to Sustainable Living, an easy read relating to real world possibilities, a great resource where you can find all of the basics and do more research on topics that you are curious about. We invite you to have a look through hoping you’ll find something you’ve never considered before or even more ideas to improve your lifestyle.

We hope you find it useful, feel free to share it widely.

UNHS Guide Final.pdf 4.61 MB • Download

#halfofit – We demand half of the Corona funds for women

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Since the Coronavirus crisis has hit, women across Europe are sustaining our society working in hospitals, childcare and supermarkets, their hard work was appreciated with applause on the balconies and public declarations, but they are still dramatically underpaid.  Women are now losing their jobs at a much faster rate than men. Many of them work in “client-facing sectors” – tourism, events, hotels, restaurants, retail trade, different forms of therapy and many others which have been particularly affected by the crisis.
In March, almost five times as many women had lost their jobs than men. On top of this, women carry out the bulk of the additional unpaid work arising from closed schools and childcare facilities, sick family members and closed canteens. In Germany, it was calculated that parents spend three hours a day homeschooling their children. In 82% of the cases “parents” meant mothers. Due to this extra amount of extra work in the home, women hardly have time to participate in the public debate anymore. An article published in the journal “Nature” and some early academic studies (4) during the COVID lockdown showed that during the Corona crisis female academics submitted only half of the research papers  to scientific journals compared to the previous period in 2019. Male colleagues submitted more compared to the same period in 2019. Women have less time than ever to invest in their careers  – while rising unemployment leaves companies ample choice in hiring among men. This will make women’s advancement to the higher echelons of decision-making even more difficult.
The Coronavirus crisis is turning into an enormous crisis for women’s income, life-long earnings, pensions, overall participation and power in society. Now is the time to turn this moment into an opportunity for the advancement of gender equality.
The European Commission and the European Council are developing a 500 billion  euro Recovery and Resilience Instrument. We support the Franco-German initiative for the planned EU reconstruction fund and wish it broad approval. This investment plan to relaunch and modernize the economy, with a priority on the digital and green transition, will shape Europe’s future by combating climate change and ushering in the green and digital transformation. This is an an absolute priority which we share, but there is on caveat: the digital and the energy sector are known to be male-dominated. Without additional measures, this economic stimulus instrument will not offer jobs for the women who are losing them – but for men. This could could turn into a redistribution programme of jobs and income being transferred from women to men. And thereby an instrument which will increase the impoverishment of women, funded by European taxpayers – half of whom are women. This is an example of unintended consequences which arise when the gender equality perspective is not involved applied at the onset of budgetary and recovery stimulus plans.

We invite you to sign and share a petition run by Alexandra Geese, Member of the European Parliament, Greens/EFA. The petition urges the European Commission and the European Council to make sure that at least half of the volume of the Recovery and Resilience Instrument is spent on women’s jobs and the advancement of women’s rights as well as equality between women and men.

Petition text

We urge the European Commission and the European Council to make sure that at least half of the volume of the Recovery and Resilience Instrument is spent on women’s jobs and the advancement of women’s rights as well as equality between women and men. It is the European institutions’ task to ensure the implementation of Art. 23 of the European Charta of Fundamental Rights: “Equality between women and men must be ensured in all areas, including employment, work and pay”.  We ask them to act in line with the European Commission Gender Equality Strategy adopted in March 2020.
We call for: 

  • Gender impact assessments and gender budgeting for all funds spent in the framework of the Recovery and Resilience Instrument
  • Investment in the care economy, developing resilient childcare services and schools that allow all parents to maintain paid jobs and a healthy life balance.
  • Development of care services from a life-cycle perspective: a Care Deal for Europe and a European project for gender-disaggregated statistics of unpaid and paid work as a basis for a new calculation of GDP
  • Obligations for companies receiving state aid or subsidies from the Recovery and Resilience Instrument to document that these funds will equally benefit employees of all genders; and especially those that have a low share of female employees and managers to hire and promote women respecting minimum quotas at management level
  •  A special fund dedicated to female-led businesses

Yellow Month

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Buidhe
One month a year
Scotland turns yellow.
In hedgerows,
gorse’s delicate mustard
petals, curtain-off
its evergreen thorny skeleton.
Around Tayside, the broom
sits next to the gorse,
its long-stems are dappled
with lemony coloured buds.
Upon the hill,
rapeseed swirls into
a golden canvas painted
with a farmer’s palate knife.
On my street,
the golden tree rains
butterfly blossoms,
dangling like a dew-drops.
In the gardens, and verges, and parks
patches of tulips and daffodils and dandelions
form a quilt of bright yellow.
Last year was spent behind
bus shelters, office frontages,
behind classroom windows.
Tinted green, blue, and grey,
erasing the away the yellow.
This year, I am free
to open the sash
to let in the month of yellow.

Lyric poem by Rachel Marsh, Creative Writing Teacher
Vice – President Graduated Women Scotland East

Reporter from the Romanian Lockdown Front

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As I write this, sometime near the end of April 2020, the hardest part of the coronavirus adventure is over. It’s been a tough two-month lockdown in Bucharest, Romania, and if you were to ask me more on what it really feels like, I would have a hard time finding the right answer. Life in self isolation, working from home, limiting real face to face interactions, drowning in the limited routine of each identical and symmetrical lump of 24 hours melts days into each other until you no longer recall anything except just a long, dull time that lasted from Day 1 till the final.

I am a visual artist and an entrepreneur and while the artistic part of me can be very happy all by itself, painting and figuring out colours, shapes and sometimes future projects, the entrepreneur needs constant and real feedback, meeting real people, doing things and getting things done.  It was not much I could do for my inner entrepreneur, so I took the liberty to dedicate the lockdown to my artistic projects.

When the crisis happened I was on the verge of setting down the last details for a prospected May 2020 exhibition, and as days passed on and more and more worrying news appeared I realized the May exhibition was not going to happen at all. I chose to pick up the works and store them somewhere so I didn’t see them anymore. It was not meant to be, I said to myself, and since I am a go with flow kind of person I moved on. Everything I wanted to express with my May exhibition suddenly felt out of place, no longer fitting me and certainly not fitting what happened around. I felt it was the right time to start a new project, this one entirely dedicated to the Corona pandemic: daily drawings to express the most notable feeling of the day, be it hope, sadness, plain old boredom or fear. Because the unhappiness of the present moment shall pass and since the routine of the isolation bears nothing remarkable in itself, its only vivid remains will be the fleeting memories of my emotions. I wanted to capture this and I did it.

It is my way to change a negative experience in something positive and full of hope. I am an eternal optimist and I believe in making things happen.

As a woman artist and as a woman entrepreneur, I have long learned that the only way to succeed is to adapt and see the positive in anything. I did find the positive in all this dreadful experience: I reconnected to my art, my family and close friends and once this is over, through my works, I will connect to other people, people who for the time being cannot be reached and live as isolated as I live, in their homes, with their thoughts, their hopes and anxieties.

Roxana Donaldson Cirtu
CER University Women Romania

 

 

Artists under lockdown in Austria

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Ans Wabl with Pistoletto in Citadelarte

During the lockdown caused by the pandemic, all of us experience things, which bring us to our limits. We must keep distance and long to be close. We cannot embrace our beloved ones to our hearts. In times like these, there are many moments, which jeopardise our rhythm. Our Umbrella Organisation of the Austrian Federation of University Women finds itself in a new period. The new Board has been elected and we are excited as to when the constituent assembly can take place. Yes, we are also tense.

Is the feeling of being powerless the worst thing? Through a Google alert I have learnt that the artist Michelangelo Pistoletto, 86 years old, is recovering from a Corona infection. I am appointed ambassador of the Third Paradise, a symbol created by Pistoletto, which is being realised all over the world. Knowing that earth does not forget, the artist sees himself in a big social responsibility. I felt so powerless when I put a few words of sympathy into a WhatsApp message. I was doubting. The crisis leaves its mark, does it maybe even take words? At the very same moment I received a friendly e-mail invitation from our CER to write for the UWE blog. I was happy, of course cautious, already being used to withhold my emotions. When I received a personal response from Cittadellarte, Pistoletto’s art city in Piedmont, where I travelled three times in the course of my scientific work, I was certain again. The performative power of thoughts is something to rely on. I do so. With words, we move towards each other.

Ans Wabl
President VAÖ Styria

Maria-Luise Öhl VAÖ – Vienn

I am a doctor of general medicine in private practice. I used to work in the public health system but am now retired and, because of my age, I belong to a high-risk group. That means I cannot stand in for other doctors, nor can I help out at the Red Cross. My activities as a doctor are currently limited to weekly or fortnightly calls on a few patients who are all over 90 and living at home. Between these calls I, too, am spending my days at home, with my activities limited to what is absolutely necessary. At the moment I cannot imagine that we will ever again be able to go to the theatre or to travel or welcome our children and grandchildren to our homes, without some concern. At home, I have long since done the tidying up and dusting, but nobody comes to visit and the dust settles again and again.

 

 

 

Coronavirus-inspired artwork by Dr. Maria-Luise Öhl, Chair of the Austrian Doctor‘s Art Association, text in English by Natalie Öhl

 

 

New normal

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I feel delighted, with some degree of trepidation, to be able to reach out to members and friends. Since the last month the normal day to day life has gone upside down to say the least. Few normal activities have gone and new ones grown, it is a crisis that has been faced by each and every person in their own way. I would like to share and reach out with positive solidarity my experiences in the last month.

A big section of my daily routine was working as a dentist that has stopped completely due to high risk of airborne infection, with a job that relies on face to face proximity working. Moving to advice over the phone is not the same I can assure you; at its best very frustrating. The profession has produced strict regulations accordingly. I found myself involved in more than one society and professional forum to try and find the best way forward. I am part of the continuous professional discussion, looking at evidence coming from national and international sources to assess how to provide emergency care locally. Having the experience of fit testing to the highly sought after FFP3 masks is quite an eye opener, it was part of volunteering to be in the emergency local hub. I do believe that going back to work will have a new normal with added layers of more definitive PPE.

Communication with the board of UWE has been more frequent, bouncing between formal and informal, that reflected on how we reach out to each other on a personal and formal level. The expanding virtual world that we live in has grown exponentially in the last month. My local Canterbury (CAWG) group has stopped meeting; I was not able to see any of them but social distancing worked to reduce or flatten the curve that we all are eager to watch on a daily basis. New normal came with new words like Zoom, Teams and Skype. I am sure once we get back to work there will be more….. I was fortunate to expand my virtual friends network, and reached out to wider European and International links; while with family and close friends, I lost the joyful social outings replaced by face time and house party! I sensed the worry in the voice of the more vulnerable sections of our society, it made me more focused on social distancing.

With reaching out to new horizons for me I joined a wider group to listen & participate in a monthly NGO Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) meeting from New York done through ZOOM (this important new word) to discuss Covid -19 and Feminist action.

The chairwoman Houry Geudelekian welcomed 284 participants. I had to scroll through the participants to see if I recognised any and to my delight Catriona Sutherland from Graduate Women Scotland was in that list. Houry reassured participants that the work continues even with lock down, namely Beijing +25. Her vice president Ivy Koek followed by introducing the speakers. The range was global, impressive and all with current work that helps in solidarity. To summarise I shall mention some with brief indication to what they discussed:

Vivek Rai UN liaison reported on rise in violence against women and the need to stay in contact with marginalized communities who might find it difficult to access a virtual space to get the support.

Marianna Leite on behalf of the alliance for gender justice emphasized the care for each other even if we don’t know them and this is so vital during this period at all levels.

Tesa Arzqueta delivered an impressive take on the response in NY city against domestic violence and the importance of what they created as a one stop shop walk in center for family justice. A question to our leaders is how much of this model is available in other cities.

Bridget Burnes (University Innovation Alliance) spoke about feminist alliances around the world and keeping the momentum going will be significant in our new normal.

Last but not least Anushka Kalyanpur, a graduate of the very first course on rapid gender analysis, gave statistics on the increase in unpaid care roles for women. Her work gave solid facts about current reduction in health care in relation to access for sexual reproduction, and the global awareness of the increase in violence against women.

The gain and the loss of this period will make up my new normal.

 

Aisha Alshawaf

Vice president University Women of Europe

 

A letter from Israel

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Who would have thought three months ago that the world could change so much. What a difficult time we are all going through.

In Israel the pandemic is relatively contained. We would do better by isolating retirement homes and have a better check on arriving passengers. Hopefully closing down the country so much will not paralyze the economy. Fortunately, in Israel most of the population respect the rules and carry out daily living according to the Corona instructions of the government.There is a considerable amount of voluntary help in the country. Voluntary workers distribute food and medication to the elderly and the needy. Some of these people also receive regular phone calls from volunteers to give them the feeling of being cared for and not forgotten. The hospitals have made it possible for family of Corona patients to be given protective garments that allows them to visit their sick relatives. Families being isolated has resulted in an increase of domestic violence here and all over the world. In some countries the violence is even doubled.

My husband and I are “socially isolated” at home. I read a lot, listen to music and watch lectures, operas and concerts. Thanks to my daughter in law I paint owls for the front office of the place where she works. To feel in my time I started an online course in calligraphy painting. I draw and enjoy my garden. I miss meeting with my dear friends. However, most of all, I miss meeting my family, children and grandchildren, we contact them using Zoom video conference. I continue to be in touch with my special dear UWE friends from Iceland, the Netherlands, Romania, France and more.I am sorry that there is a hold in strengthening and consolidating our relationship and cooperation because of the pandemic. At the that time that we signed the MOU, we thought it would help us to promote and develop women for higher position in society and equality in life.

Hopefully in the near future we will be able to meet and continue the fruitful cooperation and enjoy being together.

Thinking of you and wishing you all the best. Look after yourself.

Fondest,

Regards,

Ora Sharon

Deputy President 

Israel Association of University Women

Free Online Training Course on the European Convention on Human Rights

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The Council of Europe has launched an updated version of its free online “Introduction to the European Convention on Human Rights”, a 5-hour interactive training course aimed at legal professionals, public authorities, civil society and students.

“Europe has the strongest system of international human rights protection anywhere in the world, thanks to the European Convention on Human Rights. For the system to fulfil its potential, we need lawyers, judges, government officials, NGOs and other professionals across Europe to learn how it functions and to use that knowledge in their daily work,” said Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić.

The updated course is part of the Council of Europe’s extensive HELP programme of Human Rights Education for Legal Professionals.

It contains modules on the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Court of Human Rights and – for the first time – the execution of judgments from the Strasbourg court, which is essential in helping to raise human rights standards.

An initial version of the course was developed in 2016 and is now available in 17 different languages.

It has so far been followed by over 5,700 professionals and has also been included in training curricula at judiciary schools in various countries including Spain and the Republic of Moldova.

The updated course is now available in English, with several other language versions due to be released in the coming months.

The course has been partly produced with the financial support of the European Union, as part of the EU/Council of Europe “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey II”.

The latest annual report on the execution of judgments from the European Court of Human Rights is due to be published on Wednesday 1 April.

Useful links: