The 2022 Women Empowerment conference for the protection of girls

Lisbon 27 July 2022
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The 2022 Women Empowerment conference for the protection of girls

The conference "Protecting girls: reinforcing the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation to protect girls against gender-based violence" took place on 29 June in Lisbon gathering more than 170 participants, experts from civil society, governments, and international organisations, to discuss protection challenges and cooperation opportunities around the issue of violence against girls in the Euro-Mediterranean region.

In the context of the ten-year anniversary of the Joint Programme between the European Union and the Council of Europe, the event was an important milestone in the contributions of the North-South Centre to the South Programme IV: "Regional Support to Reinforce Human rights, Rule of Law and Democracy in the Southern Mediterranean" for raising awareness of gender-based violence against girls in the Southern Mediterranean, as well as the crucial role of regional and multi-stakeholder cooperation.

Following the intervention of Aryan Ashory, a young poet and human rights activist, on the obstacles and aspirations of refugee and asylum-seeking girls, the Conference provided an overview of the situation of girls and the forms of gender-based violence they specifically face.

The first session on prevention and protection measures included contributions by experts from Plan International in Jordan, the National Council for Women in Egypt, the SAWA Association in Palestine*, the ECPAT network for the MENA region and RNW, an international digital media organisation. The panel warned of the increase in violence against girls, especially in the context of the pandemic in recent years, such as forced marriage, female genital mutilation, domestic and sexual violence, crimes of so-called "honour", as well as cyber violence. The experts and participants concluded on the need to strengthen existing legal frameworks in a comprehensive manner and through the establishment of coordinated victim referral and assistance mechanisms supported by data collection and sharing at national level. In this regard, the allocation of adequate resources and political will are fundamental and are what is currently lacking.

The second session devoted to multi-level cooperation included presentation of promising initiatives to achieve better protection of girls against violence. The panellists - the Director General of Arab Women Organization (Arab League), the KARAMA network, the Portuguese High Commission for Migration, and the Tunisian organization SAWN - stressed the importance of intersectionality in policies regarding gender-based violence and of a holistic approach that includes all actors from public entities to address cases and risks of violence. The vulnerable situation of migrant, refugee and asylum-seeking girls was discussed, as well as the trafficking of girls were among the issues for which cross-border cooperation should imperatively be strengthened. In this regard, participants called for effective multilateral cooperation in the Southern Mediterranean region.

Following the conference, the beneficiaries of the regional grant programme "Strengthening the capacities of civil society organisations" presented their actions to improve access to protection for victims. In total, 28 activities were organised for the benefit of 2123 stakeholders. More information is available on the project webpage: Euro-Mediterranean Cooperation for the Protection of Women and Girls against Violence (


 Photo gallery of the Women Empowerment conference

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The South Programme IV is a joint programme of the Council of Europe and the European Union, financed by the European Union and the Council of Europe and implemented by the Council of Europe.


* This designation shall not be construed as recognition of a State of Palestine and is without prejudice to the individual positions of Council of Europe and European Union member States on this issue.

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