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european women's lobby general assembly 2015

Liliane Seidman reports on the European Women's Lobby General Assembly, which she attended as a delegate of ICJW on behalf of  Eliane Sperling-Levin.

29 countries were present at the EWL General Assembly taking place in Brussels (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech rep., Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Macedonia, Malta, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovak Rep., Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Netherlands, Turkey, UK).

The first day started with a friendly lunch at the hotel where the old timers met again and the new ones got to introduce themselves. It was followed by an invitation at the Brussels Parliament.

Viviane Teitelbaum, the EWL president welcomed us and talked about the 25 years of feminist activism of the European Women Lobby, with all the achievements and goals; this was followed by speeches given by different guests. The afternoon ended with a drink, the 20th anniversary cake, followed by a walking dinner.

Unfortunately I couldn’t go to the Saturday session where they dealt with the adoption of the 2015 Agenda, the minutes of the EWL General Assembly 2014, and the election of missing Board members.

In the afternoon, there was an intensive session regarding the EWL Strategic Framework. Women were sitting at different round tables aiming at new ideas to deal with mechanism of strategic framework and to find stakeholders.

I attended the Sunday session where the EWL General Secretary, Joanna Maycock presented the 2014-15 report of activities, and the work program for 2016 approved by the EWL members on Saturday.  She insisted that EWL will be working on the new strategy program to be presented to the European Union. She talked about austerity and its impact on women with a feminist vision (problems of maternity leave, discrimination on pregnant women, Women Entrepreneur projects in different countries) and the task work to be reinforced.

The Istanbul Convention (27/5/2015) on Preventing and combating Violence against women and children was recalled. 19 states have signed and 18 states have ratified this Convention. There is a steering observatory section to coordinate the program.

A summary was done about how to deliver new strategies through objectives and activities. This includes focus on policies and campaigns, how to integrate members’ perspectives on European levels, Fundraising, communication, and a survey about more engagement. Another point is to set targets with new technics, methodology, skype meetings, to develop scenarios in the next 5 years and synergy.

The EWL is engaged in different alliances and partnerships. At the UN level, there is an action on decriminalizing sex work.

In France, the Parliament has authorized the ratification of the Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.

In the budget analysis, the good news is that a contract for the next 3 years has been signed by the Commission. EWL has to be careful about travel expenses. The aim is to take no loan anymore if possible, to have fewer small donors and to increase bigger donors.

We ended the session with 3 motions voted and approved by the floor
 the “End violence against women” (VAW)
 the vulnerability of women’s group in Ukraine, who should be involved to Eastern Partnership activities.
 the Participation of Women in Peaceful conflict Resolution

Finally a last program was launched called AGORA; it is a feminist seminar held during the summer for young women from 18 to 30 years old. The aim is to gather diverse nationalities to exchange visions, inspire and reinforce the skills, to hear the voice of young feminists, to reconnect and reinforce the young European women’s activists.

Viviane Teitelbaum ended the session by thanking the board committee and all of us for being there.  The next EWL General Assembly will take place in Brussels on 4 & 5 June 2016.

It was my first General Assembly with the EWL and, besides learning a lot about feminist activism, I enjoyed meeting people from different countries and talking about interesting topics.