Cities across Europe are finding their own ways to stand up against violence against women, a phenomenon that has seen a worrying rise in recent years.
From communication campaigns to action plans, educational resources, and grants for civil society local administrations are making a message clear: violence against women cannot be tolerated.
Action in Angers
Angers, in line with its 2021-26 action plan against sexism and sexual violence, has devoted the month of November to events like documentary screenings, art exhibitions, and presentations for employees about equality between men and women.
An information campaign will remind people of the emergency numbers for victims and witnesses of gender-based violence, online training will teach people how to detect and react to such violence, and a new tool, the ‘Violence Meter,’ will help people understand whether their romantic relationships are abusive.
From violence to pleasure in Bilbao
Bilbao is holding a series of events for women over the age of 65, which will include open discussions about subjects that rarely see the light of day, such as violence at the intersection of ageism and misogyny, loneliness, and the often ignored theme of sexuality and pleasure amongst older women.
Men and candles in Cardiff
A white ribbon adorning a castle in Cardiff celebrates the city’s receiving the White Ribbon City award given by a global movement of men working to end violence against women by promoting non-toxic approaches to masculinity.
The city is also running a number of events including a ‘Not in My Name’ candlelight vigil and a multi-faith service, as well as awareness-raising training sessions for professionals.
Artists in Izmir
Izmir, which has been declared a Women-Friendly City by the United Nations, will be augmenting its year-round support of women’s equality with a new competition.
The ‘Gender mainstreaming poster competition,’ open to artists and designers worldwide, is looking for submissions of poster designs that will visually represent issues from violence and trafficking to inclusion in political and economic life.
Tools for teachers in Madrid
Madrid is using education to spread its message with the project Madrid Zero Violence, which provides tools for teachers to incorporate anti-violence material into their classrooms.
The city has worked with educators to develop tools to improve coordination, cooperation and fieldwork around this topic. Teaching resources are available online and a private online environment lets education professionals exchange experience and materials related to gender-based violence in a safe space.
Digital and intersectional violence in Munich
Munich this year introduced a new action plan against gender-based violence, covering violence in every place from the home to institutions, and including aspects such as digital violence and intersectional issues such as women suffering from disabilities and a spectrum of gender and sexual identities.
The city is holding an action week this week, which will see poetry slams, mayoral addresses, and a lot of inputs from community organisations on topics from sex work to commemorating victims of femicide.
Mutilation and marriage in Oslo
In Oslo, a grant supporting women’s rights year-round funds organisations that seek to empower women through employment, work and support groups, as well as those focusing on issues like cultural education around female genital mutilation and forced marriage.
This week, the Norwegian Women’s Lobby will hold seminars to help women activists in their work against discrimination and violence.
Understanding sexual exploitation in Stockholm
Stockholm’s focus is on training for municipal employees and for those to whom they provide services. After noticing an uptick in female Ukrainian refugees among the city’s population of sex workers, the city has started training its social and housing service staff in spotting the signs and understanding the consequences of human trafficking for sexual purposes.
Meanwhile, its Very Interesting Person programme is raising awareness about people who may face intersectional issues related to gender and disability, especially psychological issues. Training will also help this group with key skills like self-esteem and boundary setting.
Gender equality and the elimination of violence are EU goals and European values. Sadly, the Covid pandemic has seen major setbacks in both of these areas. Europe’s cities are where the services that can make all the difference – education, social services, community engagement and more – are based.
Using every avenue available, cities are working to reverse trends and create zero-tolerance atmospheres where people can feel safe from violence and abuse, no matter what their gender.
This article is part of a series on how cities tackle gender-based violence and eliminate violence against women in Europe to celebrate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the 16 days of activism until human rights day on 10 December.