Council of Europe Plan of Action for the group of specialists (EG-S-VL) on violence against women

September 21, 1997


This Group of Specialists for combating violence against women was established to develop this Plan of Action under the auspices of the Council of Europe’s Steering Committee for Equality between Women and Men. The nine members of this group constituted a geographically balanced representation of the member States of the Council of Europe. Their work comprised a series of two-day meetings, the commissioning of a European comparative legal study and a survey of relevant government agencies, NGOs, women’s organisations and other groups responding to violence against women. Most of the work for the final drafting of the Plan of Action was undertaken by Liz Kelly of CWASU. Part 1 deals with the overall context, including definitions, the scale of the problem of violence against women and current barriers to change. Part 2 comprises the Plan of Action under the following headings:

  • Statement of principle: creating “zero tolerance” of violence against women and girls;
  • The role of The Council of Europe;
  • Governments’ roles and responsibilities (including collection and collation of official data);
  • Research;
  • Legislation, procedure and legal practice;
  • Social support and assistance;
  • Employment and the workplace;
  • Education;
  • Health;
  • The media;
  • Monitoring progress.

Main Conclusions:

  1. Violence against women is both a serious obstacle to the achievement of women’s equality, and the outcome of the inequality which persists throughout Europe.
  2. Experience in a number of countries shows that women and men can be mobilised to overcome and resist violence and that effective public measures can be taken to address both the causes and consequences of violence against women.
  3. Violence against women needs to be understood within a social context, not as individual unconnected events. This, however, does not mean that individual men are not responsible for their own actions.
  4. Members of all communities have a collective responsibility to condemn the use of violence against women and give paramount importance to the safety of victims of violence. It is particularly important that men begin to take more responsibility for this issue.
  5. Violence against women will only be eliminated when men stop using violence and when communities refuse to condone it.

See Report: Final Report of Activities of the EG-S-VL (Group of Specialists for Combating Violence Against Women): The COE Plan of Action for Combating Violence Against Women

Sponsor: The Council Of Europe

  • Project Team:
    Liz Kelly