International Women’s Day 2024 sees nothing to celebrate in terms of global achievements of women over the past year.  
Femicide and women dying due to genocide are increasing.  
Still too many women human rights activists continue to be imprisoned and silenced often by reactionary and religious fanatic governments. We recall that one of the greatest threats and challenges to women’s rights is the growing right-wing extremist movement in many countries.

Today we express our condolences for the victims of femicide and genocide. And in addition to this statement, we share two poems written by Wendy Pettifer who is an ELDH Executive member which expresses our collective grief at the situation of Women and Girls in today’s world.

But today we also express our anger at the persistence of prejudices and obstacles that prevent women around the world from enjoying their right to life and psychophysical integrity, to work on equal terms and without harassment, and to access justice.

Today, we join the voices of the feminist movement and civil society calling on European national institutions to achieve goals that can no longer be postponed.

The ELDH calls on all lawyers’ organizations and human rights organizations to stand together against these threats to women’s rights.

ELDH calls on European states to :
• Develop gender-responsive policing
• Improve the capacity of justice systems to deal with women’s rights to adapt in times of crisis by improved resourcing and ensuring that jurisdictional, discriminatory, procedural and evidentiary deficiencies are removed.
• Implement the Istanbul Convention, with special regard to the recognition of the right to asylum or at least the right of residence for foreign women who have suffered violence in their country of origin, transit or arrival, avoiding the re-victimisation of women in an irregular situation who seek protection.
• Ensure a survivor-centred focus in the legal and policy response to victims of gender-based violence, also strengthening financial support for survivor-centred services

ELDH calls EU to:
• Amend the directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence by including the definition of rape as sexual intercourse without consent in accordance with the Istanbul Convention and the text previously approved by the European Parliament

ELDH calls UN to:
• Promote the approval of a new binding optional protocol to CEDAW to end violence against women and girls

As at 5 March 2024 at least 30,631 Palestinians have been killed and 27,043 injured by the Israeli military offensive since 7 October 2023.  It is estimated that 70% (over 25000) of the deaths are women and children. Almost a million women and girls have been displaced from their homes. It is also known that the Hamas’ attacks on 7 October 2023 severely effected women and children. Currently today, it is estimated 2 women are killed every hour.

ELDH calls for:
• An immediate humanitarian ceasefire
• The immediate and unconditional release of all hostages held by Hamas
• Sustained unrestricted humanitarian access to facilitate the entry and provision of assistance including food, water, fuel and health supplies at the scale required to meet the needs of women and girls in the Gaza strip, with Immediate provisions of bottled water and critical hygiene kits (including culturally appropriate menstrual hygiene management supplies and private dignified disposal, newborns care supply kits and incontinence products) targeting the most vulnerable populations (such as adolescent girls, elderly, pregnant and breastfeeding women, those living with disability and children under 5 years old)

• Establish mother and child safe spaces in collective centres to increase privacy and specialized services for pregnant women, adolescent girls and children

• Adequate and quality funding for the humanitarian response in Gaza and across the region, including resources for sexual and reproductive health services, protection and GBV programming.

• Support the urgent restocking of hospitals and health clinics with essential medications, medical supplies and electricity/fuel, especially targeting the needs of women and girls (including nutritional supplements for
pregnant women and children under 5 years old and resources for birthing mothers)
• Ensure access to lifesaving sexual and reproductive health services including 24/7 access to emergency obstetric, postpartum new-born care and lactation as well as the clinical management of rape
• Prioritize mental health and psychosocial support services for IDPs, especially children, and also for humanitarian responders and health workers


Two Poems by Wendy Pettifer