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TreatyOn 18 October 1961 the European Social Charter was opened for signature to member states as the counterpart to the civil and political rights contained in the European Convention on Human Rights. The Social Charter later entered into force on 26 February 1965, guaranteeing the enjoyment of fundamental social and economic rights without discrimination (Article…) and providing the social policy framework states parties to the Social Charter undertake to pursue by effective means.

How does it help tackle violence against women?

Violence against women is not only a violation of the right to be free from violence. It exists on a continuum, often taking multiple forms and occurring in every sphere of life – within the family, community and society at-large. Economic violence can interfere with women’s ability to access job training, education or the ability to keep a job. Sexual violence in the workplace occurs with high rates of impunity, for example, less than one in six women reporting workplace sexual violence to the police. Guaranteeing women’s social and economic rights can be an important component of women’s empowerment in the fight to end VAW. Some of the provisions in Part I of the revised Social Charter most relevant to tackling VAW include:

  • 2. Right to just conditions of work
  • 3. Right to safe and healthy working conditions
  • 4. Right to a fair remuneration sufficient for a decent standard of living for individuals and their families
  • 7. Children and young persons’ right to special protection
  • 8. Women’s, in the case of maternity, right to special protection
  • 11. Right to benefit from any measures enabling the enjoyment of the highest possible standard of health
  • 12. Right to social security
  • 13. Right to social and medical assistance
  • 14. Right to benefit from social welfare services
  • 15. Disabled persons’ right to independence, social integration and participation in the life of the community
  • 16. Right of the family to social, legal and economic protection
  • 17. Right of children and young persons to social, legal and economic protection
  • 19. Right of migrant workers and their families to protection and assistance
  • 20. Right to equal opportunities and equal treatment in matters of employment and occupation without discrimination on the grounds of sex
  • 23. Right of elderly persons to social protection
  • 24. Right to protection in cases of termination of employment
  • 26. Right to dignity at work
  • 27. Right of persons with family responsibilities and who are engaged or wish to engage in employment have a right to do so without being subject to discrimination and as far as possible without conflict between their employment and family responsibilities
  • 30. Right to protection against poverty and social exclusion
  • 31. Right to housing

Part III – Undertakings

Unlike the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the revised Charter does not have a section related to state party reservations. Part III, Article A.1 reads:

“Subject to the provisions of Article B below, each of the Parties undertakes:

  • (a) to consider Part I of this Charter as a declaration of the aims which it will pursue by all appropriate means, as stated in the introductory paragraph of that part;
  • (b) to consider itself bound by at least six of the following nine articles of Part II of this Charter: Articles 1, 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 16, 19 and 20;
  • (c) to consider itself bound by an additional number of articles or numbered paragraphs of Part II of the Charter which it may select, provided that the total number of articles or numbered paragraphs by which it is bound is not less than sixteen articles or sixty-three numbered paragraphs.”

According to Part III, the provisions contained in Part I serve as the normative principles and framework for protecting and promoting rights in state parties to the Charter – these provisions are not legally binding. Rather, when a state chooses to ratify the Charter, it issues a formal declaration asserting which rights it considers itself bound by. This formal declaration may consider some, or all, of the articles in Part II of the Charter.

iconLockWant more? A complete list of declarations by each state party to the Charter can be found on the CoE’s website

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