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2017 National Women's Conference
1 January 2017

Conference notes that on 7 April 2011, the Council of Europe adopted the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) and it was opened for signatures by member states on 11 May 2011. It entered into force on 1 April 2014.

The Istanbul Convention was drafted in response to the growing recognition in the early years of the 21″ century that member states had vastly differing approaches to matters of domestic violence and violence against women. The document sets out a legal framework for protecting women and girls from all forms of gender-based violence.

The purposes of this Convention are to:

a) protect women against all forms of violence, and prevent, prosecute and eliminate violence against women and domestic violence;

b) contribute to the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and promote substantive equality between women and men, including by empowering women;

c) design a comprehensive framework, policies and measures for the protection of and assistance to all victims of violence against women and domestic violence;

d) promote international co-operation with a view to eliminating violence against women and domestic violence;

e) provide support and assistance to organisations and law enforcement agencies to effectively co-operate in order to adopt an integrated approach to eliminating violence against women and domestic violence.

The UK government signed the Istanbul Convention on 8 June 2012 but has not yet ratified it and progress has stalled.

Conference believes:

1. that the Council of Europe is right in recognising that women and girls are affected by gender-based violence to a far greater degree than men and that the violence they suffer ‘constitute[s] a serious violation of the human rights of women and girls and a major obstacle to the achievement of equality between women and men’.

2. that UNISON should support ratification of the Istanbul Convention in line with its trade union principles of equality and the rights of all people to live with dignity and respect.

Conference calls on the National Women’s Committee to work with the NEC, Labour Link and relevant organisations such as IC Change to:

i) lobby the UK government and all parties to take action to overcome the remaining obstacles to full ratification of the Istanbul Convention

ii) work within UNISON structures to campaign for full ratification of the Istanbul Convention.