Gender-based violence is one of the most widespread forms of human rights abuse and a violation of human dignity anywhere.
Gender-based violence is a problem in all the member states of the Council of Europe and affects millions of women, men and children regardless of their social status, cultural or religious background, civil status or sexual orientation.
One of the primary aims of the Council of Europe is the safeguard and protection of human rights. Gender-based violence undermines the core values on which the Council of Europe is based and to which its member states have subscribed.
What is special with gender-based violence is that it often happens in private but it does not mean that it should be treated as a private issue. The prevention of gender-based violence and the protection and assistance to the victims is, ultimately, the responsibility of the public authorities while the civil society also has a very important role.
Legal action, however essential, cannot be the only response if we want to reduce and eradicate such forms of violence. The values of human rights, non-violence and gender equality can be neither imposed nor simply advertised; they have to be accepted and respected in real life. The key is education, information and awareness-raising. Only through combined efforts can we secure that the patterns of oppression and humiliation are not repeated from generation to generation.
The Council of Europe has been seriously working on these issues for many years. The Integrated Project “Responses to violence in everyday life” has played an important role in identifying priorities for action and examples of good practice at all levels. The campaign Stop Domestic Violence Against Women launched a year ago is the latest initiative to mobilise all the partners concerned at European and national level.
The role of young people and youth work in this respect is very important. The Youth Programme on Human Rights Education carried out by the Directorate of Youth and Sport works to mainstream human rights education in youth work and to develop a culture of human rights.
This manual - “Gender Matters” - builds on the educational resources and experience of Compass, the manual on human rights education with young people. It provides practitioners in human rights education with specific education tools and insights for a gender-sensitive approach to human rights education.
We hope that practitioners and activists in human rights education will find in this manual inspiration and resources to help them in their work.
Maud de Boer-Buquicchio
Deputy Secretary General