This year, WAVE is celebrating its 25th anniversary! The WAVE Network is one of the main and most influential European-wide feminist networks of NGOs aiming to institute gender equality by eliminating all forms of domestic violence against women.
The WAVE Network has had many successes in the last decade, from providing shelter and support to advocating for reproductive rights and policies of equality. WAVE members have made enormous strides in the promotion of feminist values and the advancement of women’s wellbeing across Europe. However, the current political climate has brought new challenges to the protection and promotion of women’s rights. WAVE believes that together, we can learn from the past and create a positive, actionable vision for the safety of women in Europe: today, tomorrow and 25 years from now.
It all began in 1994, when the Preparatory meeting for the 4th United Nations Conference on Women (Beijing, 1995) took place in Vienna. European NGOs combating violence against women took an active step by setting up a working group labelled “Violence and Human Rights Violations against Women” which was organised and coordinated by the Austrian Women´s Shelter Network. It was during this conference that an informal European network was formed – soon to become the current WAVE Network.
One year later, in the course of the 4th United Nations World Conference on Women in Beijing, progress was made in the formation of the European network. The founding members included: Niamh Wilson of Women´s Aid Ireland, Ebon Kram of the Swedish women´s shelters networks ROKS, Urszula Nowakowska of the Centrum PrawKobiet in Warsaw, Marianne Cense of TransAct in the Netherlands, Lepa Mladjenovic of the SOS Hotline in Belgrade, Raquel Cardoso of the AMCV Associacao de Mulheres Contra a Violencia in Portugal and Rosa Logar of the Austrian Women´s Shelter Network – AÖF.
Since then, the WAVE Network has hosted many annual conferences across Europe, gathered information on organisations committed to end violence against women, published country reports, newsletters, a periodical magazine along with handbooks on the implementation of the Istanbul Convention. It has also fostered the exchange of knowledge experience and good practices as well as held trainings and educational workshops. WAVE gathers now 153 member organisations located in 46 European countries and reaches over 4,000 women’s organisations. Along the way, WAVE adhered to the aims of the United Nations, stressing the importance of working towards ending all forms of violence against women and children in public and private life in accordance with the Vienna Declaration, the Declaration on Violence against Women, the Beijing Platform for Action and all other related documents.
Written by Elena Floriani and Claire Davis