Women are safer with Labour

It was good to see that the commission on women’s safety chaired by former Solicitor General Vera Baird QC with assistance from Labour MPs Kate Green and Stella Creasey has just had its first meeting.

 Now it is established, Labour’s commission will scope out the key current issues on women’s safety with the leading national women’s sector groups. In the New Year, it will go nationwide to gather evidence and find out whether current concerns are justified and whether the reality is better or worse.

 The commission will be looking for fresh ideas and investigating what legislative measures might safeguard women in the future.

 Meanwhile, intense work has taken place in the European Parliament to safeguard the Daphne programme, the only EU programme combating violence against women, children and young people.

 Set up in 1997, the Daphne initiative supports small scale projects that bring NGOs together from at least two EU member states to co-operate on data collection, research, analysis, sharing good practice, training and raising awareness of domestic violence, amongst other things. Daphne funds NGOs public authorities and institutions such as universities. In recent years the annual Daphne budget has been around EUR 20 million.    

 It has generally been recognised that Daphne has been successful and has provided much needed funding and encouragement or projects tackling domestic violence.

 However, there have been attempts to reduce the reach of the Daphne programme. Many MEPs, including myself, were concerned a few months ago when the European Commission put forward plans to wrap Daphne up with other subjects under a catch-all heading of justice, rights and citizenship.

 The European Parliament Women’s Committee took up the baton on behalf of the Daphne programme, insisting that domestic violence be kept as a specific issue under the new proposals.

 Today the Women’s Committee passed a report defending Daphne, which included the following:

 “……..calls on the Commission, when promoting the programme Rights and Citizenship, to make it possible to still identify the projects concerning the objectives of the Daphne programme, which is wisely known, so as to keep the program me’s profile as high as possible.”

 The battle may not yet be won, but I am feeling more confident that the excellent work done by the Daphne programme will continue and that those women and children so desperately needing help will still be able to access EU funds.

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