The right to live free from violence

Women in Development Europe+ (WIDE+), with the support of the International Women Space, organised a gathering in Berlin, from 25 to 27 November 2021. This convening aimed to connect members of the WIDE+ Working Group on Gender and Migration, analyse gender-based violence and contextualise it within the pandemic, discuss international human rights framework around gender-based violence, but also strategize resistance of migrant women. The participants were members of WIDE+, GADIP, Red Latinas, Women in Migration Network, ADRI, Voice of All Women, WO-MI Women Migrants, International Women Space, and Atina. 

The first event within the gathering was joining a feminist demonstration “We Take the Power”, organised by International Women Space and the Alliance of Internationalist Feminists. The demo took place in the Marzahn district of East Berlin, a settlement that is on the edge of the city of Berlin. The meticulous organisation of the demo, as well as a positive atmosphere of solidarity, have made it even more significant and remarkable, especially in the midst of the pandemic and increasing violence women are facing.

The next day began with a capacity building workshop led by Laura Albu, president of the Romanian Women’s Lobby, who introduced the use of the Istanbul Convention in advocacy initiatives to combat violence against women. The workshop was followed by a tour of the Kreuzberg district with Jennifer Kamau from International Women Space, pointing to the historical significance of this district to the migrant and refugee population of Berlin. The day ended with a meeting of the WIDE+ Working Group on Gender and Migration, which served to reflect on the previous year, evaluate current activities, and brainstorm for future actions.

To commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Women in Development Europe+ and International Women Space organised an event “The right to live free from violence”, to discuss the prevalence of violence against migrant women in Europe, and collective response and resistance against violence in all its aspects - gender-based, structural, border, institutional…

The first part of the event was a panel dialogue “Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on Violence against Migrant Women”, which gathered representatives of Red Latinas (Spain), Women Against Violence Europe Network (Austria), International Women Space (Germany), and NGO Atina (Serbia). Dubbed as the shadow pandemic, violence against women increased during the COVID-19 lockdowns all around the world. NGO Atina’s representative spoke about the experience of the organisation and the women and girls refugees, migrants and asylum seekers they support, with a particular emphasis on the challenges they faced during the state of emergency and curfew in Serbia, which was especially difficult for those who were accommodated in asylum and reception centres throughout the country and completely isolated from the outside world.

The panel was followed by presentations from WIDE+ Working Group members Martha Salazar (WIMN/KULU/Wo-Mi, Denmark) who spoke about the interconnectedness of global processes on gender, migration and climate, and Silvia Dumitrache (ADRI Association, Italy) who reflected on the impact on families of care workers in countries of origin. The event was closed with a world café session on resistance against violence.

The final joint activity of the three-day convening was a podcast hosted by International Women Space, which gathered representatives of WIDE+, GADIP, Red Latinas, ADRI Association, and NGO Atina to reflect on their work with migrant women, share experiences, and touch on the plans for the future.

This gathering was the first face-to-face meeting of the WIDE+ members after two years, and as such represents a significant stepping stone in the future work of the network. It has also been an incredible opportunity to reconnect, experience first hand the work of other organisations, but also to share all the achievements of each member organisation in supporting migrant women and girls. NGO Atina is more than happy to have had a chance to be a part of this, and proud to stand together with amazing women activists who are truly making a difference for all the women and girls out there.


Report created by:
Marija Pantelić, NGO Atina