Jobs, housing and networking top of the agenda at the Third Asian Conference of Women’s Shelters

Forty leaders of the shelter and gender equality movement in Asia met in the Hague, the Netherlands on November 2-3, 2015, to discuss the status of women’s empowerment in the region.

On the eve of the Third World Conference of Women’s Shelters on November 2, Asian delegates gathered at the Centrum Quadraat meeting room in the historic center of the Hague to discuss developments in shelter work in the region, progress toward building the economic capacity of survivors to find jobs and housing after they leave the shelters, and strategies to help migrant women and other marginalized groups be free of the fear of violence.

Some key issues which emerged in the meeting were:

  1. Economic empowerment: Well-funded employment, housing and community programs to help women after they leave the shelter to become independent.
  2. Housing and land: Give women equal property rights, rights to inheritance, affordable housing for survivors of domestic violence, and guarantee the property rights of widows.
  3. Sufficient funding for shelters.
  4. Create an environment where victims are able to report violations, seek justice, and speak out about abuse without fear of a lifetime of isolation so they are able to fully reintegrate into society.
  5. Law reform and implementation: Update outdated laws, properly implement progressive laws, and improve coordination across borders to protect vulnerable women and girls and bring justice to survivors of GBV.
  6. The government should address the lack of accountability systems within the public institutions.
  7. NGOs should collect data and case study stories to improve our services and make us more accountable, and to help make us more effective advocates for the human rights of women and girls.
  8. Full and equal protection of migrant women, especially domestic workers and marriage migrants.
  9. For disaster situations: Prepare for future disaster situations by making women part of the disaster relief process, and making the processes more accessible to women.
  10. The government should coordination between police, judiciary, hospitals other public institutions as well as civil society service providers to avoid need to re-apply, re-testify and re-live the trauma of abuse.
  11. The government should produce clear and published guidelines and protocols for public institutions to follow in cases of gender based violence.
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Chi Hui-Jung

The chairperson of the Asian Network of Women’s Shelters, which organized the event, Chi Hui-Jung said Asia, as was the world’s most diverse region, could show the world how a strong network of different peoples can come together to help women and girls be free of violence and abuse.

Bandana Rana, chairperson of the Global Network of Women’s Shelters, said The Asian Network of Women’s Shelters grew out of the Global Network of Women’s Shelters. “It is one thing to have a strong network,” said Bandana, “but the important thing is what to do. It is still heartbreaking to see so many women and girls suffering from violence, abuse and even rape.”

Ivy Josiah, Former Executive Director, WAO Malaysia talked about ethnic tensions in Malaysia and problems with husbands converting to Islam and taking domestic violence cases to the Sharia court. Ivy also stressed how important it was for NGOs to collect data for advocacy and fundraising, and also to improve accountability: “We need documented and data-evidence proof work to convince people,” Ivy said.

Rabeea Hadi, Director of Advocacy and EVAW at Pakistan’s Aurat Foundation, said, “Economic empowerment is very important, especially for women who leave the shelter after 3-4 months and are left in no-man’s land.”

Mashuda Shefali

Mashuda Shefali

Chisato Kitanaka, Executive Director of the All Japan Women’s Shelter Network, presented the results of a comparative survey on Taiwan, Japan and Malaysia. She said Taiwan had the most complete shelter system, and was particularly impressed that social workers were employed in shelters in Taiwan, which is not possible in Japan.

Housing and land rights was another important issue. “Safe living means a house, tenureship and property rights of women,” said Mashuda Shefali, Executive Director NUK Bangladesh.

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Monique Wilson

Monique Wilson, Director of the One Billion Rising (OBR) campaign said aside from the main theme of “Revolution”, the focus of the movement next year will be on marginalized women. Monique added, “Grassroots organizations have led OBR so far, so we need to give a platform to the people who are least visible in society.”

Lorraine Lim, Administrator and Counsellor the Star Shelter SCWO in Singapore said, “Many migrants do not know that domestic violence is a crime, let alone where to go to report it.” Her organization, the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations (SCWO) recommends residency rights could be sponsored by a relative or friend and not just the spouse of a migrant.

The ANWS board met during lunchtime and reported back to the conference in the afternoon, urging participants to sign up as members of ANWS on the website. On November 3, participants went on a study visit of the Hague city government and a local shelter for young pregnant women and mothers.

The conference was sponsored by Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and organized in partnership with the Garden of Hope Foundation, the Asia Network of Women’s Shelters, the Global Network of Women’s Shelters, and the Third World Conference of Women’s Shelters.

Asian Conference of Women’s Shelters pre-event to 3WCWS

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Centrum Quadraat conference room

Plan to arrive early for the Third World Conference of Women’s Shelters (3WCWS) so you can attend the Asian Conference of Women’s Shelters on November 2, 2015 at in the Hague.

Specially designed for Asian participants, this event will prepare delegates for 3WCWS and help build partnerships across Asia. The themes of the conference will focus on specific Asian issues, with the goal of forming strategies to end the endemic problem of violence against women and children. The event will provide a platform to build new alliances between shelter practitioners, NGO leaders, politicians and the business community.

The event will include a practical workshop on “Reflecting on and Honoring Shelter Work” and high-level discussions on “Empowering Women: Economy, Society and Human Rights” and “Focus on Marginalized Groups: Migrants and Migrant Women”.

The pre-conference is organized by the Asian Network of Women’s Shelters and the Garden of Hope Foundation with support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Taiwan, and GNWS.

Dates: November 2, 2015 (Mon)
Time: 09:00-18:30
Venue: Centrum Quadraat, the Hague, the Netherlands
Address: Toussaintkade 53, 2513 CL Den Haag
Presenters: 10 Asian women’s shelter leaders and managers
Participants: 20 people (not including presenters)
Organizer: Asian Network of Women’s Shelters; The Garden of Hope Foundation
Sponsors: Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), Taiwan ROC; Global Network of Women’s Shelters (GNWS)

Themes of the Conference
Workshop: Reflecting on and Honoring Shelter Work
Theme I: Empowering Women: Economy, Society and Human Rights
Theme II: Focus on Marginalized Groups: Migrants and Migrant workers

Please register your interest to attend here. The conference is free of charge, but there are a limited number of places available, so we cannot guarantee that everyone who registers will be able to attend.

Draft Agenda

Day One: November 2 (Monday) Conference at Centrum Quadraat

09:00-09:30 Registration
09:30-10:00 Opening Introductions
10:00-12:00 Workshop: Reflecting on and Honoring Shelter Work
12:00-13:00 Lunch
13:00-15:00 Theme II: Empowering Women: Economy, Society and Human Rights
15:00-15:30 Break
15:30-17:30 Theme III: Focus on Marginalized Women
17:30-17:50 Close
18:00-19:30 ANWS Board Meeting
19:30-21:30 Dinner

2015 Asian Conference of Women’s Shelters Program

The Asian Conference of Women’s Shelters on November 2, 2015 is specially designed for Asian participants. The event will prepare delegates for 3WCWS and help build partnerships across Asia and provide a platform to build new alliances between shelter practitioners, NGO leaders, politicians and the business community. See here for more information about the speakers. The pre-conference is organized by the Asian Network of Women’s Shelters (ANWS) and the Garden of Hope Foundation with support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Taiwan, and the Global Network of Women’s Shelters (GNWS).

Date: November 2, 2015 (Mon)
Time: 09:00-18:30
Venue: Centrum Quadraat, the Hague, the Netherlands

Time Agenda Speakers
08:30-09:00 Registration
09:00-09:05 Opening Ceremony and Introduction to guests
09:05-09:15 Opening Remarks Chi Hui-jung, Chairperson, ANWS;
Bandana Rana, Chairperson, GNWS;
H.E. Tom Tai-Chu Chou, Representative, Taipei Representative Office, Hague
09:15-09:20 Opening Ceremony and Introduction to guests  (Group photo)
09:20-09:30 Break
09:30-11:30 Workshop: Reflecting On and Honoring Shelter Work. Workshop leader: Kaili Lee, Research specialist, GOH
11:30-13:30 Lunch  (ANWS board meeting for members of the ANWS executive committee)
13:30-15:00 Theme 1: Empowering Women – Economic, Social and Human Rights Based Moderator: Chi Hui-jung, Chairperson, ANWS;
– Bandana Rana, Chairperson, GNWS;
– Mashuda Katun Shefali, Executive Director NUK Bangladesh “Economic empowerment and safe living environments for Bangladeshi women”
– Rabeea Hadi, Director of Advocacy and EVAW, Aurat Foundation, Pakistan “Minimizing VAW through seamless service of hubs and networks – a case study of Pakistan”
– Dr. Chisato Kitanaka, Executive Director, All Japan Women’s Shelter Network “Comparison of DV law between Taiwan and Japan”
15:00-15:30 Break
15:30-17:30 Theme 2: Focus on Marginalized Groups – Migrants and Migrant Workers Moderator: Monique Wilson, Director, OBR
– Ivy Josiah, Former Executive Director, WAO Malaysia “Shelter services in a cross cultural, multi ethnic and multi religious society”
– Lorraine Lim, Administrator and Counsellor, Star Shelter, SCWO, Singapore “Services for women in different culture and races in Singapore”
– Hsing-Ling Hsieh, Deputy Secretary-General, Legal Aid Foundation, Taiwan
17:30-17:50 Close

Announcement of the 3rd World Conference of Women’s Shelters, 3-6 November 2015, The Netherlands

The 3rd World Conference of Women's Shelters

Worldwide systematic approach to tackling violence against women

(The Hague, 10 December 2014 – Human rights day) Having held conferences in Canada and the United States, The Global Network of Women’s Shelters (GNWS) has asked the Netherlands to organise the 3rd World Conference of Women’s Shelters in 2015. Women’s Shelters the Netherlands, the Dutch government and the municipality of The Hague have taken up this invitation with much enthusiasm. From 3 to 6 November 2015, the world conference will take place in the World Forum in The Hague.

1 in 3 women across the globe will be a victim of violence
Violence against women and girls may well form the most substantial and permanent breach of human rights of our times. Worldwide, 1 in 3 women will become victims of violence. The uneven power relationship and economic inequality between men and women are usually the root cause. “The aim of the Global Network of Women’s Shelters is to create a world where women and their children are free from violence and discrimination and are able not only to gain knowledge but also have the freedom to use that knowledge to shape their own lives”, says Bandana Rana, chair of the Global Network of Women’s Shelters.

The Hague: international city of peace and (woman) rights
In order to strengthen the position of the Global Network of Women’s Shelters, the GNWS is basing its administrative headquarters in The Hague; the international city of peace and (women’s) rights. Mayor Jozias van Aartsen is delighted that the GNWS has chosen his city: “GNWS could not have chosen a better place. The rights of women and children are on the agenda in The Hague on a daily basis, where intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations are working to create a better world. For that reason, we also wholeheartedly welcome the GNWS headquarters to our international city of peace and justice.”

Alliance with industry
With its world conference, the GNWS would like to strengthen its existing network of women’s shelters and connect with other NGOs, governments and industry. Industry, in particular, forms an important link in the fight against violence. Employers can offer women from shelters a ‘safe’ place to work and strengthen the economic position of these women so that a relapse is avoided.

About the conference
The 3rd World Conference has positive responses from key UN Agencies – including UN Women and UNFPA – to partner in this initiative. The World Conference offers a forum for 1,500 to 2,000 employees from shelters and grass-root organisations across the world. It also offers a stage to several leading world citizens and international representatives to make a collective effort to eliminate violence against women and girls. From 10 December, participants can enroll for the conference via the intention registration system on the website: WorldShelterConference.org

About the Global Network of Women’s Shelters
The Global Network of Women’s Shelters (GNWS) is a global voice for survivors and the shelters that serve them. GNWS was founded in 2009 to unite and strengthen the women’s shelter movement globally in terms of bringing an end to violence against women and their children. GNWS is an active global network, united by a shared vision for an equal world where women and children live free from violence. We work to ensure global awareness of violence against women and children; support and strengthen the women’s shelter movement; promote effective policies and their implementation in order to prevent violence and protect and empower women and children; and promote social change that ends violence and oppression against women and children. GNWS encourages membership applications from shelters and other organisations working to create safe spaces for women, such as women’s shelters, refuges, safe homes, transition homes, and anti-violence centres. All member organisations must adhere to GNWS’ guiding principles, vision, and purpose.

About Federatie Opvang
Federatie Opvang is the umbrella organisation of the shelters in the Netherlands, fulfilling a leading role in providing lobbying and advocacy on behalf of its members. Federatie Opvang and its members have extensive expertise regarding violence against women, domestic violence, honour related violence, trafficking in human beings, and violence in dependency relationships.

ANWS statement on the review of the Beijing Platform for Action

ANWS statement on the review of the Beijing Platform for Action

The review of the Beijing Platform for Action 20 years after it was passed in 1995 is a huge opportunity for us to highlight what has been achieved in the last two decades and examine the remaining challenges to attaining full gender equality.

Legislation to protect women against violence and proper funding for shelters were both part of the Beijing Platform for Action.

In the last 20 years many Asian countries have made great progress by passing legislation on domestic violence and providing funding for shelters. But, according to the results of a recent survey conducted by the Asian Network of Women’s Shelters, law reform and proper implementation of the law is still needed, and governments must spend more money to help shelters provide the necessary support to help survivors of violence rebuild their lives.

1. Domestic Violence Law Reform and Proper Enforcement
The Beijing Platform for Action calls for reform of gender-insensitive laws and proper enforcement of existing laws related to violence against women (paragraphs 118, 121, 124(g)).

In the last 20 years, many Asian countries have passed legislation to protect victims of domestic violence such as the Domestic Violence Act in Nepal and the Protection of Women Against Domestic Violence Act in India.

Despite these positive steps, there are still major problems with both the content and the implementation of these laws. An ANWS survey of nine Asian countries/areas conducted in 2013 found that although all nine countries/areas have a specific law to combat domestic violence, in eight cases the law is not properly implemented and/or needs to be reformed.

ANWS calls on governments to reform existing laws on domestic violence which do not properly protect women and girls; and strengthen law enforcement and application to achieve dignity and justice for women and girls who are subjected to domestic violence.

2. Decent Funding for Shelters
The Beijing Platform for Action calls for “well-funded shelters and relief support for girls and women subjected to violence”, which includes medical, psychological and other counselling services, legal aid, and other welfare support (paragraph 125(a)).

Despite this demand, funding for shelter services in Asia is woefully inadequate. Only three out of the nine countries/areas in our survey reported that government funding for shelters was “significant”. ANWS members in four countries reported insufficient or minimal funding, and two countries reported no government funding whatsoever.

Even in the three countries/areas which enjoy significant government funding, two put high operation costs and financial pressure at the top of their list of challenges. Another problem is the fact that government funding for shelters is often granted on a project-by-project basis, so when the project ends, the funding stops and the shelter closes.

ANWS calls on governments to fulfill their responsibility to provide sufficient and sustainable funding for shelters and other relief support mechanisms for women and girls who are survivors of violence.

#NoExcuseForAbuse

TbwaWD2-0599 copyWOMEN’S Aid Organisation, Malaysia (http://www.wao.org.my/) launched a nationwide public education programme called #NoExcuseForAbuse to raise awareness on domestic violence in March.

Through this campaign, they targeted the earlier phase of domestic abuse before it snowballs. Especially, they were reaching out to those who are in doubt, who are questioning whether things are going right in their relationships.

There were four parts to the campaign, including an installation art exhibition, pledge of support, SMS helpline and radio public service announcements.

In conjunction with International Women’s Day, the exhibition features a display of blouses with hand-stitched words representing the voices of survivors

They also launched an SMS helpline called TINA (Think I Need Aid) and details were included on each of the blouses.

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TINA was created to reach out to victims of abuse who may not want to make phone calls and feel more comfortable sending a text message as there was more anonymity.

During the event, #NoExcuseForAbuse T-shirts were given out to the public.

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ANWS presents at the UN Commission on the Status of Women NGO Forum in New York

Speakers at panel “Asia-Pacific Shelters: Going the Second Mile with Advocacy and Service Work”: from left Julie Oberin, Margaret Augerinos, Zoe Chi, Bandana Rana, Kristen Liu, Anthony Carlisel. (Not pictured: Alena Victor)

Speakers at panel “Asia-Pacific Shelters: Going the Second Mile with Advocacy and Service Work”: from left Julie Oberin, Margaret Augerinos, Zoe Chi, Bandana Rana, Kristen Liu, Anthony Carlisle. (Not pictured: Alena Victor)

The Asian Network of Women’s Shelters and the Oceania Network of Women’s Shelters held a forum at the United Nation’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) on the topic of “Asia-Pacific Shelters: Going the Second Mile with Advocacy and Service Work” early in the morning on Monday, March 10, 2014.

 

IMG_2432The speakers were Bandana Rana, President of Saathi, Nepal and Chair of the Global Network of Women’s Shelters; Anthony Carlisle, International Affairs Supervisor at the Garden of Hope Foundation, Taiwan (which is the secretariat of ANWS); Kristen Liu, Executive Director of Garden of Hope New York; Alena Victor, Assistant Director of Shelters at the New York Asian Women’s Center; Margaret Augerinos, CEO, Centre for Non-Violence, Australia; Julie Oberin, CEO of the Annie North Women’s Refuge, Australia; and Ivy Josiah, Executive Director, Women’s Aid Organisation, Malaysia. The meeting was moderated by Chi Hui-Jung, CEO of the Garden of Hope Foundation, Taiwan and chair of ANWS.
The Asia-Pacific is the most diverse region in the world. Differences in shelter services are as wide as the cultural and economic divides. Some countries do not have the legal framework to protect women from domestic violence (DV) let alone the welfare structure to provide sufficient shelter support; while other countries are working on better shelter management and follow-up services.

The panelists discussed the current status of women’s shelters in the Asia-Pacific, looking at issues such as the link between advocacy and shelter work in South Asia, support services to help survivors become economically empowered in North Asia, and resources and services for Asian migrant women in New York. Continue reading