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:

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.