Thematic Working Groups

In 2016, the WAVE Advisory Board agreed to form WAVE Thematic Working Groups (WGs), to enable a more in-depth collaboration by members to address important issues facing specialist women’s support services throughout Europe. The current WGs are envisaged to work together from 2018-2020. Working Groups usually exist for 2 years, unless the members decide that further work is needed on a particular topic. They are led by 1-2 WAVE members and supported by 1 WAVE Office staff member and meet during the two annual Advisory Board meetings, as well as online approximately every 2 months.

How to join a Working Group?
If you are interested in joining a particular WG you can either voice your interest in person at one of the Advisory Board Meetings, or you can send an email expressing your interest to the WAVE Office contact for a respective group. Working Groups can accommodate between 5 to max. 20 participants. WAVE strives to make the WGs as diverse as possible and to include many different country perspectives.

Please only join a Working Group if you have the time and capacity to regularly participate in the meetings and contribute to the WG outputs. We appreciate all interest in the WGs, but if you/your organisation are/is too busy, it is not helpful for you to join a WG, where the other participants will be counting on your input if you cannot provide this.

The Working Groups will develop synergies with other WAVE activities, such as trainings as well as the yearly conference and campaigns, to ensure sustainability as well as engagement with the broader membership.

Please see the attached Terms of Reference (ToR) for how the working groups function, as well as further details on the deliverables and membership requirements.

The following three WGs have been established and are currently being supported by the following WAVE Office team members:

The Strength-Based, Needs-Led Approach as a Tool of Empowerment in Women’s Specialist Services Supporting Survivors of Domestic Abuse

This group researches and promotes specialist women’s support services that focus on working within the capabilities of the women they serve. Strengths and skills of women survivors of violence have historically not been sufficiently taken into account when creating support services for them. The aim of establishing a SBNL approach in support services is, to incentivise services to move away from a solely criminal justice focused approach in supporting women experiencing gender based violence (GBV), towards a more holistic an empowering model of support. Specifically, the aim of the SBNL approach is to go beyond focusing on the risks a woman experiencing GBV faces and to also explore her strengths and skills together with her, which will serve her as key tools in building a new life.

The basis of this support approach are feminist values and collaborative action between the person supported and those supporting them.

Contact person: Elena Floriani –

Protecting Women’s Specialist Services from Gender Neutral Policy and Practice

This group focuses on the promotion and maintenance of women’s specialized support services across Europe, recognizing that they maintain women’s human rights and promote gender equality much more effectively than gender neutral support services. Gender Neutral services ignore that the root of violence against women is the inherent power imbalance between men and women most modern societies. Therefore without a gendered perspective towards violence against women The Gender Neutrality working group researches and advocates for policies which recognize institutionalized sexism and misogyny as major obstacles in the fight for gender equality, and the social and financial disadvantages of “gender neutral” policies and funding models.

Contact person: Lina Piskernik –

Sexual Violence

The Istanbul Convention Explanatory Report also acknowledges that, since sexualised violence is especially traumatising, it needs a particularly sensitive response by trained and specialised staff. The Sexual Violence working group collects data on the availability of specialized services for victims/survivors of sexual violence across Europe, as well as the international understanding of the topic and its related negative impacts, in order to promote improved policies for victims/survivors.

Contact person: Maria Knaub –

Legal Working Group

The WAVE Legal Working Group was created in January 2020, gathering 10 WAVE Members working as legal professionals in nine European countries: Albania, Austria, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Serbia, Slovakia, Turkey and United Kingdom.

The purpose of the Legal Working Group is to strategize legal actions, by compiling court decisions that can be used as good practice examples by other WAVE members, and to strategize on how to use different international and European legal tools to support members in their everyday work. Furthermore, the scope of the group is to spread information on international legal instruments available, and into modalities in which such instruments can be used in front of national courts and European courts, such as the European Court of Human Rights.

One-page good practice court decisions will be available from different jurisdictions to allow WAVE members, interested in such arguments, to further use these strategies to better support victims of violence.

The working group meets regularly, usually once a month.

A first activity of the working group was to organize a webinar, focusing on the legal arguments used in the case pending at the European Court of Human Rights in the ‘Kurt vs. Austria’ case. The purpose of the webinar was to support legal practitioners on how to use international and European standards such as the ones enshrined in the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention) and the European Convention on Human Rights.
A recording of the webinar can be found under the following link.

Contact person: Anca Ciupa –

If you would like to join one of these working groups, please fill out the attached ToR and return it to the group contact person, as well as and we will get back to your inquiry with further details as soon as possible.

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