Independent women’s advocates and groups of survivors are able to voice concerns and needs of women and girls more openly than groups affiliated with other institutions (e.g. the state, religious institutions, local authorities). For example, where the legal and policy framework does not protect women’s rights, survivors and women’s advocates can speak out on international commitments to women’ human rights more easily than state officials or representatives.
In many contexts, women’s organizations are trusted by survivors more than service providers from the health, justice, security and social welfare sectors, which is related to the importance of shelter services being provided by independent female professional staff or trained volunteers.
Survivors and women’s advocates are the best monitors and evaluators of systemic responses to gender-based violence. Advocates are also well-placed to promote the needs of survivors to policymakers and within systems when survivors are not safe or not able to do so themselves (Step it Up Ontario Campaign and Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses, 2011).