Friday, March 20, 2015

Global Network of Women’s Shelters at the CSW


Riekje Kok of the Global Network of Women’s Shelters has been attending the CSW for the first week. Below she reports on her activities in the promotion for the 3rd World Conference on Womens’s Shelters, coming up in November 2015.

In the afternoon of March 10th all Dutch NGO’s present, joined the lunch for Dutch NGO’s with Minister Jet Bussemaker and two of the ministers from Aruba and St Maarten. It was a lively lunch with a lot of questions. Jet Bussemaker especially mentioned the success of LGTB side event of the day before. I used the opportunity to offer the three ministers a Red Heart, as a symbol against VAW. The red hearts are made by women survivors in Tunisia especially for the 3rd World Conference and half of the price of a red heart goes to the 3rd World Conference. From all over the world we want women to send us their picture wearing the red heart: to form a chain against Violence Against Women. (Red Hearts can be bought via the website:  under the button: sponsoring).
The 3rd World Conference of Women’s shelters will take place in The Hague in November 2015.  The moment is well chosen:  In September the UN general Assembly will adopt the Post 15 Agenda. So at the conference there will be the opportunity to review the newly adopted goals concerning Violence Against Women and also make a start with the implementation.  The Netherlands will have the chair of the EU in the first half of 2016, and therefore has the opportunity to put the relevant conclusions of the conference on the agenda of the EU. 

Later that afternoon the Global Network of Women’s Shelter hosted a side event together with the Permanent Residence of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.  All three minsters joined us at the side event, and also the minister of Curacao.  As did a lot or participants from all over the world.
The event was chaired by Bandana Rana from Nepal, chair of GNWS and executive director of Saathi: an organisation for women’s shelters and youth care. She expressed the importance of the voices of shelters:  they do the daily work with women and children that flee from violence.  The Global Network of Women’s Shelters exists since 2008 and succeeded in building its networks of shelters in different continents.

To unite shelters and give the women they serve a global voice is an important aim of the conference.

Minister Jet Bussemaker said she was proud that the Netherlands will host such an important Conference. During her period as a Secretary of State she was responsible for the women’s shelters and in that period she learned a lot about their work through regular working visits.  She said it is important to support grass-root organizations and NGO’s and that the Dutch government fully supports the conference and will help to make it a success. 

The first conference of women shelters was organised in Canada and Pat Vargas – executive director of Safe Place, a women’s shelter in Alberta - took us back to 2008. The conference was started with a breakfast with the guys: for them a very expensive breakfast - a donation to the conference -. But it also gave them the floor to talk about their community work to help prevent violence against women and the importance of taken a stand as guys.

Kaofeng Lee – deputy director of the safety net project at the US National Network to End Domestic Violence – was project-leader of the 2nd World Conference of Women’s Shelters and said she was proud to talk about this big event. She showed a video with several highlights of the 2nd World Conference and said she was thrilled that the 3rd Conference will take place very soon in The Hague.
Aleid van den Brink then got the floor to tell about objectives and main themes of the conference. Most important is – as it was at the first and second World Conference – the exchange or expertise between shelterworkers from all over the world.
Aleid van den Brink and Riekje Kok. Photograph: Richard Koek

Riekje Kok gave practical information: about participation. She said the call for proposals in February already had led to 100 proposals and she invited the audience to send in their proposals as soon as possible. And she gave a few possibilities to financially support the conference by donations and by buying a red heart.

The event ended with a round of questions and remarks of the audience. Important was a plea to recognize (domestic) violence against disabled women. A representative of the African Network of Women’s Shelters was present in the audience and able to answer some questions about the network of shelters in the African continent.

=by Riekje Kok, Global Network of Women’s Shelters, a partner of WO=MEN Dutch Gender Platform=

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Where my boys at? At the CSW!

At the CSW we talk a lot about emerging issues that affect women and men around the world. We also talk about the emerging themes that come up in our field of work. The role of men and boys in the fight for gender equality and empowerment of women has become increasingly popular topic. The importance of engaging men and boys is now officially recognized in the political declaration and several outcome document of CSW over the last years.

Although the masculinities movement is not new at all, its visibility and the amount of attention for the role of men and boys is bigger than ever at this CSW. The room where the Panel discussion The responsibility of men andboys in achieving gender equality' was held on Monday was bursting out of its seams.

Yesterday, Joni van de Sand, co-coordinator and advocacy manager of the MenEngageAlliance, presented the oral statement of the MenEngage Alliance. The statement lay bare the damaging effects of patriarchal norms and powerstructures for women and girls, as well as men and boys. It made an urgent call to overcome gender injustices that are induced by patriarchal norms. In the statement, Joni further stressed how MenEngage Alliance builds on the heritage of the feminist and women’s movement and how they will continue to work in solidarity and though being informed by the women’s movement. There was also a moment of self-reflection on the work that is being done with men and boys, the growing attention, and how to proceed:

‘There has been a lot of attention for engaging men and boys at this CSW. We welcome that. We welcome that the Political Declaration includes a paragraph. Overall, we hear a lot of excitement. However, projects are often small-scale and short-term. It is time to implement and scale-up. We are calling for institutionalization of work with men and boys in policies and programs – in schools, the work-place, and in creating an enabling environment at home.’

During the Panel onChanging social norms to achieve gender equality - expectations and opportunities’ on Monday, Joni made an oral intervention on behalf of the MenEngage Alliance that was the result of a brainstorm with members at MenEngage Caucus. It was for the first time at CSW that this Caucus was formed and has been working together. The full oral intervention can be found here.

=Sanne Holtslag on behalf of WO=MEN Dutch Gender Platform=