Stop sexism and sexual harassment in parliaments

 The Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination today unanimously adopted a series of measures aimed at stopping sexism and sexual harassment in parliaments.

They are addressed to national parliaments, but also to political parties and governments. Their focus is on awareness-raising through surveys and public debate, on rules of conduct, effective complaint mechanisms and procedures in parliament - accessible to both members of parliament and staff - as well as effective sanctions, proportional to the gravity of the cases and, where necessary, reviews of immunity rules.

Data collection, monitoring and research in this area should also be stepped up with a view to turning greater awareness of the problem into tangible improvement.

“We have to make clear that there is a link between sexism, violence against women in politics and the political representation of women. They interfere with women’s rights to fully participate in political life, limit their right to vote and to run for public office, ultimately undermining the legitimacy of elected institutions,” said the rapporteur, Thorhildur Sunna AEvarsdottir (Iceland, SOC).

At the level of PACE, the committee calls for the modification of its Code of Conduct to introduce an explicit ban on sexism, sexual harassment and sexual violence, and a reference to the protection of dignity.

As the extent of the problem of violence against women in politics has started to be understood only very recently - as part of the #MeToo movement and following a joint IPU/PACE study - all parliaments are invited to join and support the #NotInMyParliament initiative to raise awareness of a pattern of widespread and systematic gender-based violence against women.