5 Apr 2018

Austrian women's department alarmingly underfinanced

The main state institution dealing with women's rights has an annual budget of 10 million euros. Experts argue that's far from sufficient, especially as new women's shelters are needed.

Julia Sahlender
Julia Sahlender Der Standard, Austria
Source: Der Standard
Austrian women's department alarmingly underfinanced - NewsMavens
Women's shelters. Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

Compared to other ministries and departments, the institution led by Minister for Women Juliane Bogner-Strauß is entitled to a meagre budget that hasn't been increased since 2010. Its dependents include not only various women's rights institutions and agencies but also shelters for victims of domestic abuse.

Bogner-Strauß has declared that by 2022, 100 new spots in women's shelters will be created across Austria. The department's budget should also cover anti-violence measures, which Austria is obliged to implement after ratifying the Istanbul Convention.

Experts warn that, with the current funding available, these promises are unlikely to be kept.

In a letter to chancellor Sebastian Kurz, ministers and MP groups for the protection of women and violence survivors have demanded an increase in funding of the department -- unfortunately without any success.

politics, gender, women's issues

Details from the story:

  • Since the last election, the Women's Department is part of the Austrian Ministry for Social Affairs.
  • Maria Rösslhumer, managing director of the autonomous women's shelters network ("Verein Autonome Österreichische Frauenhäuser") believes that with the current funding it won't be possible to create the 100 new spots in women's shelters. According to her, it would cost around 5 million euros per year to maintain the planned spots, construction costs not included. Hence the federal states or Bundesländer would have to financially support the project for the most part.
  • The fact that Bogner-Strauß sees shelters for the homeless as a possible solution for relieving women's shelters in Salzburg also worries Rösslhumer. "We don't need emergency shelters but actual women's shelters," she claims. 
  • According to the Grevio Report from September 2017, which evaluates the implementation of the Istanbul Convention, Austria needs to increase its budget for the prevention of and protection against violence. 
  • The report also states that there should be more counseling and assistance for victims of forced marriage, genital mutilation, sexual violence and rape, as well as for children who have witnessed domestic violence. 
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