For the seventh time, the Czech Women's Lobby participated in the UN campaign Orange the World. The campaign officially starts with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November and ends with Human Rights Day on 10 December.
The Embassy of Sweden in the Czech Republic traditionally organized an event for ambassadors to stand up against violence. The orange symbol of the Orange the World campaign against violence against women shines out from the joint photo of over 30 international officials.
The Czech Women's Lobby has been working on the issue of violence against women for a long time, both through its member organisations (e.g. Acorus and Rosa - a centre for women dealing with domestic violence, Konsent dealing with sexualised violence, the Union of Midwives, the Movement for Active Motherhood, the Czech Association of Dul, NF Propolis 33 and Aperio) and at the level of the entire network.
One of the key issues and advocacy goals of the Czech Women's Lobby has been the ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention) for nine years. The Czech Women's Lobby is the leading force behind the Voice Against Violence coalition, which has advocated for adopting the Convention in the Czech Republic.
The Istanbul Convention will significantly help to set the rules and environment to address violence in society more effectively. This is both in the area of direct assistance to victims and survivors of gender-based violence and domestic violence, as well as by educating those who work with victims of violence or by working with perpetrators themselves.
How time has passed in CJL with the Istanbul Convention
The Istanbul Convention was established in 2011 and entered into force in 2014 after ratification by the first ten states. The Czech Women's Lobby has been working for the ratification of the Convention by the Czech Republic since 2015 alongside with Amnesty International through the campaign Stop Violence Against Women campaign. Together they asked the government to adopt the Convention without delay.
The Czech government added its signature to the Convention in 2016. However, this was only the beginning of the ratification process, which requires the approval of parliament and the signature of the president. The Czech Women's Lobby, led the efforts for the ratification of the Convention: in 2018, we presented a petition for the speedy ratification of the Istanbul Convention on the floor of the Chamber of Deputies together with Amnesty International and subsequently argued at a public hearing why the Convention is needed in the Czech Republic. A year later, the Czech Women's Lobby, formed a colation of NGOs called Voice Against Violence advocating for the ratification of the Istanbul Convention in the Czech Republic. This is the fourth year that the CWL has led the coalition.
A voice against violence - a voice for the Istanbul Convention
The epidemic that arrived in the Czech Republic in the spring of 2020 has exposed the intensity of the problem of domestic violence. Stress, insecurity and lockdown have led to an escalation of aggressive behaviour in many families. Organisations associated with Voice Against Violence have responded with an awareness campaign and information about help services for those who face domestic violence. However, even the increase in domestic violence during the pandemic did not prompt politicians to take further steps in the ratification process.
In 2021, the CWL continued to work on an awareness campaign about the Istanbul Convention, piloting a joint methodology developed by the Council of Europe, the WAVE (Women Against Violence Europe) network and UN Women. The project ended with a conference entitled Together Against Violence Against Women.
Since the beginning of this year, the CWL, as part of the Voice Against Violence coalition, has been actively explaining the necessity of adopting the Istanbul Convention to competent persons in politics and the general public. In cooperation with the Embassy of France in the Czech Republic, CWL organized a celebration of International Women's Day in March. In May 20 NGOs cooperated on organizing a happening in support of the Istanbul Convention. Over 200 people came to show their support. After the event in June, the government finally passed the Istanbul Convention to the next round of the legislative process in parliament. In light of the misinformation swarming in the political arena about the Convention, CWL continues advocacy work directly with the women and men legislators who now hold the fate of the Convention in their hands. In the fall, the CWL co-organized a panel discussion in the Chamber of Deputies and a roundtable in the Senate, where interested men and women, not only from the political ranks, had the opportunity to hear arguments in support of the Convention.
The CWL believe that the long-standing efforts will soon yield a well-deserved result and that the Czech Republic will thus join the states that do not close their eyes to the serious problem of gender-based violence.
The activity was implemented with the support of a MASF grant from the European Women's Lobby.