The WAVE Thematic Paper is based on the WAVE 2020 Handbook by the Gender Neutrality Working Group titled “How Gender Neutral Policy and Practice Is Dismantling Women’s Specialist Support Services and Ways to Counteract It”. The handbook as well as the policy paper deals with the protection of women’s specialist support services (WSS) from gender neutral policy and practice. This thematic paper argues that gender neutral policy endangers women’s support services and denies access to safe women-only spaces for women suffering from violence. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, violence against women has significantly increased and women’s support services are suffering from these side-effects.
Therefore, this paper claims that gender neutrality should not be applied to women’s support services as well as policies addressing the elimination of violence against women and girls. This can be solved through the application of intersectionality, funding, commissioning, state policies, ratification and implementation of international treaties as well as effective communication and campaigning. The hope is that the thematic paper and the related handbook will inform European and national stakeholders to revise gender neutral policies and consider implementing the recommended policies to ensure women’s specialist support services are supported.
After formal dissemination in 2020/21, the WAVE Handbook 2020 “How Gender Neutral Policy and Practice Is Dismantling Women’s Specialist Support Services and Ways to Counteract It” and its thematic paper are currently only available to WAVE members.