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Why Is #StepUpWAVE Important?
Over the last few decades in Europe, progress has been made in many countries in addressing the widespread problem of violence against women. Despite all efforts, the scale of gender-based violence remains shockingly high, along with barriers to accessing support and the lack of sustainable funding which reduces the number of services available for women to seek help as well as the quality of services. As the 2014 FRA prevalence study on violence against women demonstrates: 1 in 3 women has experienced some form of physical and/or sexual assault since the age of 15; pregnant women are especially vulnerable to violence – 42% experienced violence from their previous partner; and after breaking up with a partner, 1 in 6 women reportedly continued to be victimized by their former partner. Furthermore, the rate of femicide and children suffering from domestic violence is not decreasing, while experiences of violence continue to be under-reported. The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention), which aims to guarantee women a life free from violence, is only signed in 20 European countries, and while ratified in 22 countries, remains to be effectively implemented.
We need to step up our efforts in Europe to stop violence against women and to support and protect survivors. Provision, quality, and funding of specialized support services need to be improved and adequate financial support to be provided for non-governmental organizations supporting victims. Furthermore, the aims of the campaign are to challenge attitudes and beliefs which facilitate or condone violence and discriminate against women and girls. To achieve these goals, the WAVE Step Up! campaign will call on key decision-makers to:
- Actively support prevention and protection for victims of violence against women and girls
- Commit to improving access to protection and specialised support services for all women and children, especially groups facing multiple discrimination
- Increase in the number of specialist women’s support services in Europe
- Improve the quality of services, including a gender-sensitive and women’s rights-based approach
- Improve the access of women and children who face multiple disadvantages and discrimination, including those with disabilities and migrant and asylum-seeking women, especially undocumented migrant women
Objectives are to also address stakeholders on the level of international organizations, including the Council of Europe and European Union, through lobbying in order to:
- Increase the ratification and effective implementation of the Istanbul Convention
- Implement provisions of the Victims Directive, especially in the area of providing specialist support services for women victims of violence
- To have the voice of women survivors of violence at the centre of the campaign, and involve their perspective in the planning and carrying out of the campaign activities
- To promote and support independent women’s organizations as providers of specialist services – good quality support requires independent, gender-sensitive services that put woman’s and children’s humans’ rights also at the centre
- To always be in line with priorities and standards set by the Istanbul Convention
Campaign ActivitiesActivities at the national level
- Set up a WAVE campaign group of national campaigners
The first step of the WAVE campaign is to set up a WAVE campaign group with members from at least 20 of the 46 countries in which WAVE has members. The WAVE campaign group will, together with the WAVE office, carry out the activities.
More than a roof over one’s head – setting standards for quality support
A set of quality standards will be developed for specialist women’s support services and promoted across Europe, targeting policy makers and service providers. They will contain good practice examples and recommendations for concrete steps to improve services. Webinars will also be held for different target groups, facilitating training and exchange on quality standards, structures and the funding of specialist women’s support services.
- Government’s Commit – to stepping up support and protection for survivors
Governments will be invited to support the campaign and to commit to concrete steps to improve the situation of specialist women’s support services. Governments joining the activity will be presented on the WAVE campaign website as well as at campaign events, serving as good practice examples, encouraging and motivating other governments to step up their efforts. Activities will also serve the implementation of the Istanbul Convention, EU Victims Directive, and other international documents.
- Increase access to protection and support
The campaign will put a spotlight on improving access to services for groups facing multiple discrimination, with a special focus on women and children with disabilities and undocumented migrant women victims of violence and their children. This activity will identify barriers in countries and step up efforts to remove them.
- Video competition and award – young people advocating the rights of survivors
An award will be created to encourage young women and men to join the campaign. Youth organizations and universities will be invited to join the competition and create a video, with the aim of raising awareness of violence against women and encouraging survivors to seek support. A jury of feminist media experts will be identified to select and award winners.
Activities at the European level
- Lobby for signing, ratifying and implementing the Council of Europe Istanbul Convention
Many European countries have not yet signed, ratified or effectively implemented the Istanbul Convention. Accordingly, a main campaign goal is to lobby these countries and the European Union to take the necessary steps for the Istanbul Convention to become the powerful tool for women’s rights that it is supposed to be.
- Lobby the European Union to step up efforts to combat all forms of violence against women and girls
EU institutions and member states need to take concrete steps for establishing a comprehensive strategy and action plan to address all forms of violence, especially the most common forms of violence against women in Europe, which are rape and sexual violence and intimate partner violence. The activity will support the initiatives of the European Parliament and include lobbying the European Commission to establish a Year for the Elimination of Violence against Women in 2017.
- Lobby the European Union and member states for a European Women’s Helpline
A European women’s helpline number, referring victims to the specialist women’s helplines in the country where they live is of particular importance for women who experience violence when moving to or visiting other countries. Correspondingly, with this activity the campaign will lobby for the implementation of a free-of-charge, 24/7 European women’s helpline number.