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Cyprus takes over EU Presidency with promise of action on violence against women, but silence on maternity leave Directive

[Brussels, 06 July 2012] Cyprus’ 6 month-programme gives priority to violence against women, but two crucial measures for women’s rights are still lacking.

Cyprus took over the rotating Presidency of the EU on 01 July and unveiled the priorities of its six-month turn at the head of Council of the EU. While the EWL welcomes the promise of the Cypriot Presidency to work on violence against women, we are deeply concerned with its silence on other fundamental rights’ issues.

The EWL was very pleased to see the issue of violence against women as a core priority of the Cyprus Presidency and encourages Cyprus to go one step further: set up a comprehensive European action making sure all forms of male violence against women in the EU are eradicated; declare 2015 to be the European Year to end violence against women; ensure that EU Member States sign and ratify the Council of Europe Convention on violence against women.

When it comes to gender equality, however, Cyprus has lower ambitions. The EWL is particularly worried by the fact its six-month programme does not mention two key Directives touching on women’s rights and gender equality that still need to be un-blocked in the Council: the horizontal Article 19 equal treatment directive (fighting against discrimination) and, most importantly, the maternity leave directive (key also to reducing the gender pay gap).

The EWL, and especially its Cypriot member, therefore invites NGOs to remain vigilant and ensure that wthe Cypriot Presidency complies with its Treaty-bound duty to protect and promote women’s rights and gender equality in all its work.

In April 2012, the EWL issued eight priorities for the Cypriot Presidency in the area of gender equality.

  1. Ensure future EU funding for women’s rights and gender equality in the negotiations on the MFF 2014-2020;
  2. Take a leadership role in the negotiations aiming at adopting the revised maternity leave Directive;
  3. Issue strong Council conclusions on violence against women;
  4. Ensure sexual and reproductive health and rights for all women living in Europe;
  5. Support the adoption of binding EU-level legislation to reach parity on company boards;
  6. Ensure that equality between women and men is at the core of the implementation, reporting and monitoring mechanisms of the Europe 2020 Strategy;
  7. take a leadership role in developing EU targets and standards on quality and affordable care services across the life-cycle;
  8. Take a leadership role in the Council negotiations on the draft anti-discrimination Directive.

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