CEO of the GOH Becomes the New Chairwoman of the GNWS 2018/04/09
CEO of GHO Hui-Jung Chi (right) was elected as the new Chairwoman of GNWS

Hui-Jung Chi, the CEO of the Garden of Hope Foundation (GOH), was elected as the new Chairwoman of the Global Network of Women’s Shelters (GNWS). Next year, she will be organizing the 4th World Conference of Women’s Shelters (4WCWS) in Taiwan. This 4-day conference is expected to attract 2,000 representatives from 120 countries worldwide. Chi is also the founder and the current Chairwoman of the Asian Network of Women’s Shelters (ANWS).

The 1st World Conference of Women’s Shelters (1WCWS) on September 8 – 11, 2008 in Edmonton, Canada was organized by the Canadian Network of Women’s Shelters and attended by over 800 shelter workers from 51 countries. The US National Network for Ending Domestic Violence in collaboration with the GNWS interim board members organized the 2nd World Conference of Women’s Shelters (2WCWS) on February 27 – March 1, 2012 in Washington, DC, and approximately 1,500 participants from 96 countries attended. The 3rd World Conference of Women’s Shelters (3WCWS) was held in the Hague, the Netherlands on November 3 – 6, 2015. The conference was attended by 1,000 people from 115 countries. The 4WCWS will be held in Taiwan in 2019, and we expect to invite 2,000 participants from 120 countries to join the conference.

Chi pointed out in a parallel forum hosted during the 62nd Session of Commission on the Status of Women (NGO-CSW62) that, according to the United Nations, a third of the women in the world – which is approximately 1 billion women – had experienced violence. This is a shocking number. Where can those women escape? Government of every country should set up shelters for women, providing the abused women a safe place to live and giving them a chance to rebuild their lives. Currently, regions that have a network of women’s shelters include Asia, South America, Canada, Europe, the United States, Australia, the Middle East, and Africa.

Chi briefly introduced the 4WCWS that will be held next year in Taiwan and invited people to visit modern cities in Taiwan, welcoming everyone to join in this major event in 2019. The conference will bring together like-minded people from around the world and facilitate communications and exchange of experiences among shelter workers and leaders. Topics on shelters’ future challenges and course of action will also be rigorously discussed. Taiwan can also take this opportunity to share with the world on its achievements in promoting the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The conference will help to channel knowledge and resources from developed countries to the developing world, inspiring and empowering them to provide more services to people in need.

Participants of the parallel forum include Julie Oberin, the National Chair of Women’s Services Network (WESNET) in Australia, Lise Martin, Executive Director of the Women’s Shelters Canada, Rosa Logar, First Vice-president of the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO), and Margarita Guille, Executive Coordinator of the Inter-American Network of Women’s Shelters. Everyone shared on the challenges faced by abused women in remote areas of their respective countries and the current services provided to these women. Most importantly, all guests were invited to attend the 4WCWS, which will take place in Taipei in 2019.

CEDAW committee member Bandana Rana opened the forum by stating she was honored to serve as the Chairwoman of GNWS for eight years and was pleased to pass on this difficult job to Chi.  She also stressed on the issue that the number of women’s shelters and funding for such shelters around the world are still insufficient and further pointed out that there has been no increase in the number of 24-hour hotlines, and many places still do not have a one-stop service facility.  Rana said there is a long road ahead and much work to be done, and she encouraged all women groups to strengthen their works on advocacy so that women can have more supports and live their lives with dignity.

The Australian representative Oberin and the Canadian representative Matin shared the difficulties and challenges they faced when providing services to the abused females in their respective countries. The same problem they each have is the lack of resources and little support from government, and the geographic location makes it hard for victims to get the help they need. In order to solve the problem, they are training more social workers to teach the abused females to use smartphones and GPS to locate shelters and available services.

The Latin American representative Guille stated that society’s traditional value and discrimination against women led to an increase of incidents of sexual violence, and the recent political turmoil in several countries of the region has created a surge in human trafficking around borders. The European representative Logar said that European countries have ratified the Istanbul Convention, and they value the protection of females’ lives and their rights to survive. However, not every country has adopted the provisions of the Convention in their national laws. Special services for victims of violence, such as service hotlines and the number of shelter beds, are severely insufficient. Logar appealed for the development of a comprehensive shelter system for women across all European countries and recommended for education of gender equality to be introduced in primary school so that children can be exposed to the concept of equality at an early age.

During the forum, the GOH also shared its view on issues related to the economic and housing rights of women. Domestically abused women often choose to go back to their abusers due to the lack of resources, creating a vicious cycle of violence. The GOH highlighted its “Go the Second Mile” program, which provides housing services and economic empowerment services to victims of domestic or sexual violence, enabling them to truly escaped from the violent environment and establish an independent life.

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