The WAVE Youth Ambassadors support the WAVE Step Up! Campaign in campaigning for the rights of women survivors of violence to access support and protection. The campaign believes that people are stronger together, which is why we need to mobilize, organize and build communities capable of standing together and demanding change. As fighting for women’s rights in the context of eliminating gender-based violence goes hand in hand with advocating for and implementing the Istanbul Convention, the WAVE Youth Ambassadors initiative has made it one of its goals since its launch in 2018 to strategically and effectively sensibilise youth about the Istanbul Convention. In Europe, the Istanbul Convention is the most powerful legal tool in our hands; its implementation is a crucial step towards ending violence against women.
During the last six years, the convention has been ratified and signed by several countries; however, right wing agendas across Europe have been standing in the way of the implementation of the Istanbul Convention and thus impeding the fight for gender equality and against gender-based violence and discrimination. This has gone so far that some countries are currently considering as well as planning to withdraw from the convention. Especially now, it is crucial to highlight not only the significance but also the efforts of the Istanbul Convention in combatting violence against women.
“The implementation of Istanbul Convention is of huge importance, because it obliges the State to take measures and prevent violence against women, protect the victims of violence and to prosecute the committers”, says Elda Brada, first generation WAVE Youth Ambassador from Kosovo.
During their term, the first generation of WAVE Youth Ambassadors created a multilingual action in which they targeted young people and explained in both their respective languages as well as in English what the Istanbul Convention is, why its implementation is important and how the Istanbul Convention affects individuals. The ambassadors in unison believe that the Istanbul Convention is an opportunity for countries across Europe to show their commitment to ending violence against women.
First generation WAVE Youth Ambassador from Georgia, Elmar Khalilov states: “The convention is my strong argument in the fight against violence!” Not only for the WAVE Youth Ambassadors, but for women affected by violence, women’s support services, organisations, institutions and governments. The Istanbul Convention is the argument on legal grounds against gender-based violence. However, important questions to decision makers have been raised as well: “If the Istanbul Convention urges countries to make legal changes at the national level, monitoring them, so that laws and societies have zero tolerance for violence against women, then what does it mean when countries decide against signing and/or ratifying the convention? What happens when countries are considering or planning to withdraw from the convention? What will happen to the numerous women and girls who are affected by violence?”
First generation WAVE Youth Ambassador from Serbia, Dexi Stošić, emphasises that it is important to implement the Istanbul Convention, as it gives us the power to Step Up! and say “NO” to violence! With the support of this legal binding document, we can also make sure that the ones who are already suffering can live peacefully, far away from the people who hurt them. In addition to that, we need to make sure that women who support other women for example through women’s specialist services or women’s organisations are safe as well and have optimal working conditions.
The second generation of WAVE Youth Ambassadors took this action one step further and asked youth across Europe in again both English as well as in their respective languages to share with the general public, stakeholders and decision makers why they believe it is fundamental for countries to ratify the Istanbul Convention and express their dedication to fighting gender-based violence.
A perspective for the future? Sign, ratify and implement the Istanbul Convention! #25yearsWAVE
“The Istanbul Convention makes sure to reinforce the idea of gender equality; without such a convention, we cannot achieve gender equality if women experience gender-based violence and State institutions take no measure to prevent it.” Elda Brada, first generation WAVE Youth Ambassador from Kosovo