Women’s Rights are still Human Rights!


Press release:

Statement by Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks:

Women’s Rights are Human Rights .

As we celebrate International Women’s Day and the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action adopted at that Conference, I cannot but echo this statement and call on all Council of Europe member States to make gender equality and the fulfilment of women’s rights a reality and not just a promise.

Progress has been made in recent decades in a number of areas, in particular in establishing legislation and mechanisms prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of sex. Ambitious goals, including for the equal participation of women in political life, have also been set. However, full achievement of the human rights of women is still lagging in Europe.

It is particularly worrying to note in 2015 clear threats to women’s rights linked to the resurgence of reactionary trends targeting women who try to move out from the subordinated role in which they have been kept for centuries. Some would like to limit women to a role of mothers, giving birth and staying at home to rear children. It is therefore more than ever necessary to stand up for women’s rights, combat such stereotypes and raise awareness about gender equality, both in the family and in society. The Council of Europe Gender Equality Strategy 2014-2017 provides a road-map in this field, as one of its strategic objectives focuses on combating gender stereotypes and sexism.

Despite numerous international and national anti-discrimination legal instruments, discrimination on the grounds of sex remains widespread in today’s Europe. As stressed by the European Court of Human Rights in a recent judgment (case Emel Boyraz) on sex-based discrimination: “where a difference of treatment is based on sex, the margin of scope of appreciation afforded to the State is narrow […] Advancement of gender equality today is a major goal in Council of Europe member States and very weighty reasons would have to be put forward before such a difference of treatment could be regarded as compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights”. Let us not forget this.

I have observed in the course of my work that the economic crisis and ensuing austerity measures adopted in some European States have contributed to a regression in European women’s rights. Such policies have exacerbated gender inequality and discrimination by making cuts in public sector jobs and salaries (where female workers form the majority) and in the welfare system (on which more women than men rely). Disturbingly, in the countries concerned, I could see a feminisation of poverty and an increased risk of exploitation and human trafficking for women who were already overrepresented in low-paid and precarious jobs. States should react quickly and adopt measures halting this dangerous trend.

I am also worried at the intensification of hate speech against women in many European States, including on the Internet, which is characterised by threats of murder, sexual assault or rape. This form of hate speech targets prominent female politicians, journalists and human rights defenders but also ordinary women at work, in the street and at school. I call once more on Council of Europe member States to prohibit by law any advocacy of gender hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.

If we do not combat discrimination and hate speech against women, we will never be able to eliminate violence against women, which is one of the most extreme forms of violation of women’s rights. Though cases of violence are largely under reported because of mistrust in State institutions and cultural and social taboos, there is no doubt that the number of women experiencing violence is a worrying one for the majority of European States, as also underscored by a recent study conducted by the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency concerning EU member states. To make things worse, the response of national authorities, including the police, prosecutors and judges, remains grossly inadequate in a great number of cases of violence against women.

Now is the time to act and to give new impetus to the spirit of the Beijing Declaration. As a first step, member States which have not yet done so should ratify the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. This would not only give a clear signal that States are committed to uphold gender equality, but would also increase the chances to translate women’s rights into reality.



Expert Workshops: Sex and Gender in Medicine Regulation, Medical Education



Expert Workshops on Sex and Gender in Medicines Regulation and Medical Education 4th March 2015, 0900-1730.

Room TRE7701, 7th floor, Trèves Building, 74 Rue de Trèves. European Economic and Social Committee, Brussels

Research addressing Sex and Gender (S&G) in biomedical science and health research is a novel and highly promising field. The interaction of S&G related mechanisms leads to different manifestation of diseases in women and men, such as infarction, heart failure, diabetes, rheumatic disease.

The European Gender Medicine Project (EUGenMed) will produce an innovative roadmap for the implementation of S&G in biomedical, public health and clinical research and create a European Gender Health Network.

Part 1: Sex and Gender in Medicines Regulation:

Translating the evidence from S&G research into regulatory practice will lead to more targeted, effective opportunities for prevention, treatment and care. This workshop will examine how S&G consideration are integrated into Medicines Regulation and information.

Dr. Ingrid Klingmann, Chairwoman, European Forum for Good Clinical Practice (EFGCP)
Ms. Hildrun Sundseth, President, European Institute of Women’s Health (EIWH)

09.00-09.10 Welcome
Dr. Ingrid Klingmann, EFGCP, and Hildrun Sundseth, EIWH

09.10-09.20 Opening Address
Ms. Ingrid Kössler, Member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)

09.20-09.40 Sex and Gender in EU Regulatory Practice
Dr. Kevin Blake, European Medicines Agency (EMA), UK

09.40-09.55 The case of CVD and Women
Prof. Dr. Marco Stramba-Badiale, Director, Department of Geriatrics & Cardiovascular
Medicine, IRCCS Istituto Auxologico Italiano, Italy

09.55-10.10 Ethics Committee Guidelines:Example from the Medical University of Vienna
Dr. Christiane Druml, Vice-Rector, Medical University of Vienna, Austria

10.10-10.30 Discussion

10.30 -11.00 COFFEE BREAK

11.00-11.20 Moving Forward: The New Clinical Trials Regulation
Ms. Maja Grzymkowska, Medicinal Products–Quality, Safety and Efficacy Unit, DG SANTE

11.20-11:40 Safe Use of Medicines during Pregnancy and Lactation
Dr. Lode Dewulf, Chief Patient Affairs Officer, UCB, Belgium

11.55-13.00 Towards a European S&G Roadmap

Co-Chairs Dr. Ingrid Klingmann, EFGCP, Ms. Hildrun Sundseth, EIWH
Eugenmed: The Research Evidence for Integrating Sex and Gender into Clinical Studies:   Prof. Dr. Ineke Klinge, Univ. of Maastricht, Charité—Universitätsmedizin, Board Member EIWH, Nederlands.

Research Perspective: Ute Seeland: Charité—Universitätsmedizin, Berlin, Germany

Patient Perspective: Ms. Sophie Peresson, International Diabetes Federation
Health Professional Perspective: Dr. Katrín Fjeldsted, CPME (TBC)

13:00- 14:00 LUNCH

Part 2: Sex and Gender in Medical Education


The failure to acknowledge the impact of sex and gender differences will affect the quality of health care provision, precisely what good medical education seeks to prevent. There must be a commitment to mainstream an evidence-based gender perspective throughout medical curriculum,including in graduate, medical, nursing, rehabilitation, pharmacy, continuing medical education and continuing nursing education programmes. This workshop will examine how S&G consideration can be best integrated into medical education.

Dr. Katrín Fjeldsted, President, Standing Committee of European Doctors (CPME), Iceland
Dr. Petra Verdonk, VU University Medical Centre, the Netherlands

14.00-14.15 Welcome and Introduction
Ms. Peggy Maguire, Director General, European Institute of Women’s Health, Ireland

14.15-15.00 Panel Discussion A: Examples on How to Best Integrate Sex and Gender in Medical Education
Chair: Ms. Sinead Hewson, Managing Partner of The Dendrite Group and EIWH Board Member, the Netherlands
Dr. Petra Verdonk, VU University Medical Centre:

Making a gender difference. Challenges of sex and gender mainstreaming in medical education.
Prof. Dr. Margarethe Hochleitner, Medical University Innsbruck, Austria: Integrating sex and gender in different curricula at the Medical University Innsbruck
Dr. Ute Seeland, Institute of Gender Medicine, Charité—Universitätsmedizin, Germany: Extension of S&G knowledge in medical education–the concept of eGender
Ms. Sabine Ludwig, Charité—Universitätsmedizin, Germany: Curricular integration of sex and gender aspects into the new modular medical curriculum at Charité Berlin

15.00-15.20 COFFEE BREAK

15.20-16.40 Panel Discussion B: Moving Forward—What are the Opportunities to Integrate Sex and Gender in Medical Education?
Chair: Prof. Karen Ritchie, Imperial College London, Director INSERM, Neuropsychiatrie Hôpital La Colombière and EIWH Board Member, France
Prof. Dr. Hanneke de Haes, Department of Medical Psychology, AMC-UvA, Netherlands: How communication was successfully integrated into Medical Education—can we use the same strategy for integrating sex and gender?
Ms. Kristina Mickeviciute, European Medical Students Association, Lithuania: How can we address the sex and gender gaps in medical students’ knowledge?
Dr. Katrín Fjeldsted, CPME: How can we address the sex and gender gaps in medical professional knowledge through continuing medical education?
Prof. Dr. Harm Peters, Association of Medical Schools in Europe (AMSE), Germany: Standard setting and quality assurance
Dr. Janusz Janczukowicz, AMEE—International Association For Medical Education, UK: How can we integrate and coordinate sex and gender into medical education cross-nationally across Europe?

16.40-17.30 Towards a European S&G Roadmap: Recommendations

Prof. Dr. Ineke Klinge Univ of Maastricht

Dr. Petra Verdonk, VU University Medical Centre

Dr. Katrín Fjeldsted, CPME

Ms. Peggy Maguire, EIWH


eugenmed_funders_logoEuropean Gender Medicine Network (EUGenMed)
Grant agreement number 602050
A project funded by the European Commission
Directorate-General for Research & Innovation

Fatty acids lower heart disease and death risks


Omega 6 fatty acids lower risks of heart disease and death

Two international research groups independently studied effects of omega-6 fatty acids on the risks of death and coronary heart disease, respectively.  Both concluded that risks were lowered with high intakes of linoleic acid, the main omega-6 fatty acid, widely present in vegetable oils.   It is generally recommended that people should reduce intakes of saturated fat, and increase their consumption of polyunsaturated fat, including omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, to help lower their risk of heart disease and stroke.Recently, the protective role of omega-6 fatty acids was challenged by some researchers and media, creating confusion for consumers.  …more

Gender: caregivers are poor health risk


Gender identifies caregivers as poor health risk!

Female caregivers are more likely than male caregivers to report poor health, especially when they perceive their roles as difficult or life changing, according to research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2015.

Gender Summit 5 Africa 2015



28-30 April 2015, Cape Town, South Africa

Poverty alleviation and economic empowerment through scientific research & innovation: Better Knowledge From and For Africa

Africa is the world’s fastest growing continent with an exceptional opportunity for economic growth and prosperity, mainly due to our natural and human resources.

African researchers have produced proven evidence that Africa has the capacity to produce research that has a social impact, employing varied scientific disciplines. The Gender Summit Africa (GSA) is set to be one of the activities that we embark upon to stimulate meaningful conversations that will ensure that Africa’s research agenda is strengthened as we reflect on how our science, technology, infrastructure, capital and skills could be used to realize the continent’s full potential for the benefit of its entire people.

The GSA provides a forum for groups and organisations across all levels of scientific research, including research beneficiaries – to address issues of mutual concern. This forum will be equally significant as an opportunity for exchanging and analysing experiences of conducting research in various research settings.

We look forward to welcoming you to Cape Town, South Africa.

Registration for the Gender Summit 5 Africa is open. ...more:

Sweden pledges support for gender equality work


Sweden pledges 26 million SEK, approx 2,752,500 EUR to to support gender equality work in 41government agencies. It’s unclear if this includes the integration of gender analysis into research.  …. more


ie: 2013-20 Gender Strategy & Action Plan


IRC reaffirms commitment to integrating sex and gender analysis into research

Gender Strategy & Action Plan.

Highlights: Integration of sex/gender analysis in research content

Ensure that researchers have fully considered if their research contains a sex and/or gender dimension and, if so, that this is fully integrated it into the research content.

The Irish Research Council will:

  • require applicants to indicate whether a potential sex and/or gender  dimension is present or may arise in the course of their proposed research: o and, if so, outline how sex/gender analysis will be integrated into design, implementation, evaluation, interpretation and dissemination of the research results or, outline why it ‘s not relevant to the research proposal;
  • facilitate researchers to identify and recognise if there is a potential sex and/or gender dimension in their proposed research through provision of reference materials and training sessions;
  • provide guidance and training for Irish based researchers targeting international funding programmes where the sex/gender dimension is a review criterion;
  • 24 ‘Promoting gender equality in research institutions and integration of gender dimension in research contents’, Proposal 618124 – GENDER-NET, FP7-ERANET 2013-RTD, SiS-2013-2.1.1-29
  • provide guidance and training for Council peer review assessors to evaluate if a potential sex and/or gender dimension is present in proposed research and if so, how well the sex/gender analysis was integrated into the research content;
  • include review of the sex and/or gender dimension in the ongoing monitoring and review process of funded research proposals, identified as relevant variables.
  • partner with international organisations in the GENDER-NET25 to share lessons learned and utilise best practice in the development of future initiatives to ensure the integration of sex/gender analysis in research content.





Treating mental health problems in pregnant women


Embargo 00:01 GMT Wednesday 17 December 2014

Safely treating mental health problems in women before,during and after pregnancy


The NHS UK guidance bodyce says women who have experienced or at risk of mental health problems need extra support before, during and after their pregnancy.

In a comprehensive update of the clinical management of antenatal and postnatal mental health, women are at greater risk of mental health problems during and after pregnancy, and the effect for families can last for a long time. Around 12% of women experience depression and 13% experience anxiety at some point, while many women will experience both.

Depression and anxiety disorders affect 1 in 5 women in the first year after childbirth. The range of  disorders which women may experience include depression, panic disorder,  generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and tokophobia (an extreme fear of childbirth), eating disorders, substance misuse, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, with an increased risk of psychosis in the weeks after childbirth (post-partum psychosis).

More information is available on drugs used to treat mental health problems during pregnancy and on stopping medication. More is known about detecting mental health problems in mothers and pregnant women.

The update will help doctors, nurses, health visitors and midwives to identify mental health problems in mothers and pregnant women.  It also offers guidance on the most appropriate drugs or other treatments to offer safely to mother and child. The guideline will also help women who have had mental health problems understand what help should be made available for them if they are planning to have a baby. It also states that women and their partners, who have had a traumatic experience such as a very difficult birth, should be offered extra support and makes clear recommendations about what should be offered to mothers who have suffered a miscarriage or whose baby is still-born.  …more

US: Science community to focus on sex !


Science community to focus on sex

Has 2014 reached its potential to be a big year by realising equality in women’s health research and care?

Do let us know!

Attention to sex differences by the (National Institutes of Health (NIH) director will go a long way toward encouraging the basic science community to focus on sex as an important variable in the earliest steps of the discovery process. … more

World Aids Day – Dec 2014


Globally, almost half of people living with HIV/AIDS are women

HIV/AIDS was considered a disease predominantly affecting men, however, this is no longer the case.  According to WHO/UNAIDS’ latest global estimate, women make up over 50% of the people infected with HIV, rising to 60% in sub-Sahara Africa.[ UN AIDS. 2012a. Global Factsheet: World AIDS Day 2012.  http://www.unaids.org/en/media/unaids/contentassets/documents/epidemiology/2012/gr2012/20121120_FactSheet_Global_en.pdf ] Globally, HIV is the leading cause of death and disease in women of reproductive age.

HIV has become a growing health concern for women in Europe, particularly in Eastern Europe, where one of the steepest rises in HIV rates among women in the world has occurred.[ WHO. 2004. Number of women living with HIV increases in each region of the world. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2004/pr_unaids/en/]  The proportion of women living with HIV has been increasing in the last 10 years. The World Health Organization (WHO) cites gender inequalities as a key driver of the epidemic in women.[ WHO. 2013. Gender inequities and HIV. http://www.who.int/gender/hiv_aids/en/.], [ UNAIDS. 2012b. HIV increasingly threatens women in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. http://www.unaids.org/en/resources/presscentre/featurestories/2012/march/20120312alaskerwomeneeca/]  .

Their biological make-up and society’s gender norms, make women and girls more susceptible than men to sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. According to the WHO report, gender inequalities in HIV are a key driver of the epidemic in several ways:[ WHO. 2013. Gender inequities and HIV. ],[ Ibid.] Violence against women (physical, sexual and emotional), which is experienced by 10 to 60% of women (ages 15-49 years) worldwide, increases vulnerability to HIV. Women who fear or experience violence often lack the power to ask their partners to use condoms or refuse unprotected sex.  Fear of violence can prevent women from learning and/or sharing their HIV status and accessing treatment.

Most HIV infection in children results from mother-to-child transmission (MTCT).

If pregnant women with HIV do not receive drug treatment during pregnancy, delivery and postpartum, it is estimated that in 25% of cases, their infants will acquire HIV. However, with a multi-care approach to pregnancy and delivery, the likelihood of HIV transmission to the infant is reduced to less than 2%.  Specifically, the risk of HIV transmission during childbirth is 10-20% if no prevention is undertaken.  Approximately 15% of babies born to HIV-positive women will become infected if they breastfeed for 24 months or longer.[ Colin Tidy. 2011. “Management of HIV during pregnancy.” ], [ American Pregnancy Association. 2007. HIV/AIDS during Pregnancy. ]

Strategies for HIV testing vary across Europe, but widespread, unacceptably high rates of late diagnosis among women suggests that current testing strategies are not adequately reaching the female population.[ Johnson M, Afonina L, Haanyama O. 2013 “The challenges of testing for HIV in women: experience from the UK and other European countries.” Antivir Ther. 18(2):19-25. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23784671. ]  Research has found, for example, that women miss chances for HIV testing more than men and are more impacted by the potential negative effects of HIV testing such as the disclosure to partners.

Globally, almost half the people living with HIV/AIDS are women.  However, historically, women have been underrepresented in clinical trials for HIV/AIDS medications, making it difficult to draw conclusions on gender-based differences with regard to HIV treatment efficacy and effectiveness.  Lack of scientific research makes fighting HIV more difficult in women than in men.   For example, in the 18 randomised controlled trials of new HIV drugs submitted to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from 2000 and 2008, only 15% of patients enrolled were women.  Women from minority and ethnic groups have been particularly underrepresented in trials.

Support must be given to end sex and gender-based violence, which often is associated with the transmission of HIV to women.[ Ibid. ]  Poverty frequently impedes HIV treatment, as therapies are expensive.   Women with limited financial resources are especially susceptible.  In comparison to men, women are more likely to be excluded from health plans.  Women often put the needs of their families over their own health needs, negatively impacting effective treatment.[ Canadian AIDS Society. 2013. Women and HIV/AIDS: Treatment Issues. ]


Download HIV-AIDS_press release here!

Peggy Maguire, Director General, peg@eurohealth.ie
Hildrun Sundseth, hildrun@eurohealth.ie

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