To: His Excellency the Prime Minister Mr. Antonis Samaras
To: The Minister of Foreign Affaires Mr. Dimitris Avramopoulos
To: The Minister for Interior Mr. Euripides Stylianidis
To: The Minister for Administrative Reform and Electronic Governance Mr. Antonis Manitakis
CC To the CEDAW Committee
Athens, February 11, 2013
Mr. Prime Minister
Women’s Organizations of the country are upset by rumors about a forthcoming abolition of the General Secretariat for Gender Equality (GSGE), or its transformation into a General Directorate, or simply Directorate of the Ministry, namely its downgrading from an administratively and financially autonomous body into a dependent one.
The GSGE, the only government body for the planning, materialization and follow up of the implementation of all policies for gender equality, has worked very successfully and has greatly contributed to promoting gender equality, which is a constitutional requirement. Many of the successful developments in improving the status of Greek women, are due to initiatives of the GSGE, in perfect cooperation with the women’s organization, who are also fighting for the same purpose.
We can not believe that the abolition or downgrading of the GSGE is on the agenda. This would amount to ignoring the obligation for promoting gender equality imposed by the Constitution on all authorities (art. 4 par. 2, 116 par. 2), as well as violating all international obligations of the country. Indeed, substantive gender quality constitutes a fundamental right and fundamental principle of the EU, which has set its promotion as a basic priority imposed on all Member States. Substantive gender equality is also guaranteed as a fundamental right in the framework of the UN, by virtue of international conventions that Greece has ratified, especially the CEDAW. As if by coincidence, these days the CEDAW Committee, in Geneva, is examining whether Greece is abiding by its obligations stemming from this Convention.
The ILO ascertains that the socio-economic crisis and the austerity measures in Greece hit women and families harder. In November 2012, registered unemployment reached 27% ; the female unemployment rate was 31,1%, according to Eurostat, while it is internationally established that the participation of women in the production process is indispensable for development. Poverty is mainly feminine, while family supporting structures are constantly reduced. It is therefore evident that the maintenance and strengthening of an institution as GSGE is indispensable, as required by both the EU and the UN.
The abolition or downgrading of the GSGE would place the country in the fringe of European and international developments in the field of gender equality, which is a concern of all civilized countries, would violate fundamental rights and would deprive women’s organizations and women of Greece of an advocate in their fight for the improvement of their position in the labour market, in society and in the family, where there is a serious risk for stereotypes from the past, detrimental to equality, democracy, development and the image of the country , to reappear.
In the hope that the rumors are unfounded and will be officially denied,
We remain. THE SIGNATURES OF THE REPRESENTATIVES OF 22 NGOs FOLLOW.