15th annual WAVE Conference: To live free from violence – a human right for women and their children or a postcode lottery?
This year, the European Network WAVE (Women against Violence Europe) together with its partner BGRF (Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation), organised the 15th annual Conference which will take place from the 10th to the 12th October in Sofia, Bulgaria, at the Novotel Sofia Hotel. The conference is expected to draw more than 200 representatives, experts and researchers (NGOs, governments and academics) from about 40 European countries. The title of the conference is: "To live free from violence– a human right for women and their children or a postcode lottery?" and will cover topics which will range from how to address the justice system in preventing femicide to the importance of national coalition networks.
WAVE was founded in 1995 and is a network located in Vienna, Austria. It has over 100 Focal Points in 46 European countries. With nearly two decades of experience, WAVE has years of comprehensive and valuable expertise in the area of violence against women. Among many other projects and activities, WAVE has conducted research, issued publications and has organised trainings and lobbying.
The first day of the conference will involve presentations by experts on violence against women. The first panel will present the gaps regarding specialist women support services in Europe and the options on what can be done about it. The second panel is going to discuss the prevention of violence and femicide and holding states accountable, taking into account the case law of the European Court of Human Rights and of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
The third panel will explore the role of the health sector and the need to strengthen responses to violence against women. Despite decades of improvements and the persistent work of women's organisations as well as many positive initiatives by governments, much work remains to be done.
Currently many laws still lack effective implementation, professionals require appropriate training to support and respond to women and girls, data collection is in need of improvement, and there is shortage of services with those existing often being underfunded. Based on research conducted by WAVE for the annual Country Report 2012, there were still over 52,500 shelter places missing in a total of 46 European countries, taking into consideration the Council of Europe recommendation of one women’s shelter place per 10,000 inhabitants. Only five of the 46 countries studied met the Council of Europe Taskforce Recommendations. These included Iceland, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway and Slovenia. WAVE recommends that all governments work to improve the situation for women and girls to ensure the availability of safe places and professional support.
The second day of the conference will include 13 workshops on topics of approaches in supporting survivors, migrant and minority ethnic women’s human rights, justice system, working with perpetrators, the right of children to be protected from domestic violence, participation of survivors and young women in the work against violence, empowering and specialized services for women survivors of violence, violence against lesbians, new approaches and concerns for preventing femicide and severe, repeat violence, women’s rights as human rights, building national networks and coalitions to end violence against women, multi-agency work to stop violence against women and a self defence workshop as a special offer.