Main conference themes
A) Economic independence of women survivors
Education and economic independence offer the best means to prevent violence against women. Many women cannot participate in society as citizens in their own right because of the violence they experience. During this conference, we will bring together women’s shelters and business and international development organisations to promote women’s economic independence; prevent violence against women; and offer sustainable solutions to women who have experienced violence. By focusing on women’s individual strengths and participation in the economy, we will create a better future.
B) Sustainable financing and advocacy
In many countries, despite the huge demand for shelter, women's shelters struggle to exist. Shelters need sustainable funding and support. Funding is needed to hire and retain staff and for activities such as awareness raising and lobbying. Funding is also needed to support organisational sustainability, so executive directors in these organisations can consult with experts in daily operations and fundraise effectively. Moreover, the lack of data collection and information analysis of services offered and the need of survivors make it difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of policies at all levels. To address this issue, partnerships with local and national authorities, funds, civil society organisations, and companies need to be created to provide support for shelters.
C) Transboundary violence against women: international exchange and cooperation
In addition to sexual and domestic violence, women worldwide are also subjected to other types of violence, including trafficking of women and children, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, honour-related violence, and rape as a weapon of war in increasing areas of conflict.
Refugee women, and migrant women are particularly vulnerable. Because they often lack a private network of resources and support, they must rely on women's shelters. Part of them are undocumented with little perspective for a safe and financial independent future.
Due to the cross-border nature of these forms of violence, international cooperation and exchange between shelters and various partners, such as law enforcement, is imperative.
D) Continents: what is happening? Strengthening global and regional networks.
The World Conference of Women’s Shelters is not an isolated event. It is part of the long-term strategy of the Global Network of Women's Shelters to connect and strengthen women’s shelters worldwide. The reinforcement, preservation and expansion of the existing network will take centre stage both during the run-up to and throughout the World Conference. The conference offers a unique forum for the regional networks and special networks like the international network of indigenous women’s shelters. Joining forces at the regional level helps influence legislative alignment and realise implementation. Although there are great examples of international and national legislation, implementation is a problem in many countries. Shelters will be able to connect and strategize on how to support the implementation of violence against women legislation in their countries.
E) Innovative approaches to eliminate violence against women and to support survivors
Women’s shelters and their partner organisations have tremendous knowledge and expertise on addressing violence against women. The conference is the ideal platform for shelters and partner organisations to share innovative insights, methods and approaches, such as focusing on strengths, multi-agency approach, programmes for children, community support, providing help online and e-learning opportunities. Some innovations bring benefits and challenges, such as the challenge to keep the Internet accessible and safe for women and their children. Or the challenge to work with both parents with the aim to reduce violence without putting women and children at risk. Addressing these concerns requires collaboration among a variety of partners as law enforcement, public prosecutor’s offices, Internet providers as well as women’s shelters to represent the experiences of women and their children. In addition, researchers can share their data and analyses to offer fresh impetus and ideas to everyday practices.