Gender equality and human rights are at the heart of universal values and comprise stand-alone priorities integrated into all European Union policies. The European Council recalls that its Conclusions on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) of 10 December 2018 reiterate the validity of the EU’s strategic approach to WPS, and commits to fully implement the EU Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security 2019-2024.
The Council highlights the importance of the WPS agenda in a political context and welcomes its inclusion in different EU policies and action plans since the adoption of the 2018 Council conclusions. In this vein, the European Commission has adopted an EU Strategy for Gender Equality 2020-2025 and an EU Gender Action Plan (GAP) III, “An Ambitious Agenda for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in EU External Action” 2021-2025, welcomed through the Presidency Conclusions of 16 December 2020.
The disproportionate impact that armed conflict continues to have on women and girls around the world, as well as the prevalence of sexual and gender-based violence, including conflict-related sexual violence, are a concern for the Council.
The Council stresses that the EU will implement a coordinated approach to risk mitigation and prevention of all forms of sexual and gender-based violence and will make sure that responses are victim/survivor-centred and trauma-sensitive. This includes access to reproductive health care services, as well as mental health and psychological support. The Council reaffirms its strong commitment to uphold international human rights law and international humanitarian law, and to put an end to impunity for international crimes, especially when rape is used as a weapon of war.
The Union remains committed to the promotion, protection and fulfilment of all human rights and to the full and effective implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and the outcomes of its review conferences. It also keeps its commitment to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in that context.
The WPS agenda is crucial for contemporary challenges in the realm of global peace and security. In this regard, the Council stresses that armed conflicts, as well as emerging and increasingly complex new security challenges such as climate change, food insecurity, scarcity of water and other natural resources, pandemics, including the impact of COVID-19, energy challenges, terrorism, organised crime, migration and forced displacement, human trafficking, risks associated with emerging and disruptive technologies, and hybrid threats, including cyber-attacks and disinformation, affect women and girls disproportionately. These effects have resulted in a general deterioration in the position of women with adverse consequences for the full enjoyment of women’s and girls’ human rights across the world. The EU and its Member States are committed to seeking understanding and acting on the gender dimensions of security risks to avoid increasing vulnerabilities, but also to discovering new entry points to move forward with gender equality, improve resilience and keep peace. It is fundamental to ensure that any response is based on:
- A gender analysis of the causes, consequences and policy implications, using gender statistics based on data disaggregated by sex, age and disability, to guarantee a more effective, inclusive and sustainable response.
- The full, equal and meaningful participation of women in all stages of the conflict cycle.
- The prevention of and protection against gender-based violence.
- Inclusive and gender-sensitive global leadership in politics and security decision-making in general.
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