Regional Programme in the Western Balkans and Turkey
Decades of advocacy efforts led by the women’s movement and grass-roots organizations across the Western Balkans and Turkey have led to a recognition that violence against women and girls is a manifestation of systematic gender discrimination and inequality, a violation of human rights, and a detriment to development. The adoption of the 2011 Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women (also known as the Istanbul Convention) and the agreed conclusions of the fifty-seventh session of the Commission on the Status of Women in 2013, have increased attention given to violence against women in international and regional agendas, and built the momentum for investing in additional efforts to achieve gender equality.
The regional Beijing +20 review for Turkey and the six Western Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia) highlighted areas that require concerted attention: the pervasiveness of multidimensional discrimination, the re-emergence of strong patriarchal structures and unequal power relations between women and men, and the rising prevalence of different forms of violence against women and girls.
UN Women’s preliminary assessment of gender equality and women's empowerment in Turkey and the six Western Balkans countries, conducted at the end of 2014, revealed that – despite the adoption of legislation to advance gender equality in all these countries – strong patriarchal structures, unequal power relations between women and men, and the lack of political will of governments remain major obstacles to the full implementation of legislation. While Turkey and the six Western Balkan countries are at different stages of accession into the European Union, there is an opportunity and a necessity to advance the implementation of norms and standards outlined in European Union laws and policies – also known as the ‘acquis communautaire’.* This designation is without prejudice to position on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.
The three-year programme, ‘Implementing Norms, Changing Minds’, aims at ending gender-based discrimination and violence against women in the six Western Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia) and Turkey, with a particular focus on the most disadvantaged groups of women.
The adoption and full implementation of frameworks aligned with international normative standards – including those standards outlined in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Istanbul Convention and the European Union acquis communautaire – are essential for addressing gender-based discrimination and violence against women. The programme will strengthen women’s organizations capacity to hold governments to account, advocate for effective implementation, and monitor prevention of and response to violence against women. Beyond the full implementation of legislative frameworks, the programme also addresses structural causes of gender inequality – and one of its most pervasive expressions, violence against women – through a transformation of gender discriminatory stereotypes, perceptions and beliefs. Lastly, protection, prevention and response to violence against women is closely interlinked with the availability of and access to comprehensive, multi-sectoral services for survivors of violence.
Acknowledging the structural inequalities that lie at the intersection of gender and factors such as age, disability, ethnicity and nationality, the programme will place a strong emphasis on tackling multiple discriminations where gender aspects are involved.
The primary method of implementation is through partnerships with women’s organizations. The programme will build on UN Women’s and the European Union’s links with civil society organizations in the region to assist women in their drive to ensure their rights as citizens.
Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey
UN Women (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey) in partnership with UNDP (Montenegro)
Development partners: European Commission HQ and European Union delegations in implementing countries
Total Programme Cost:
- New regional initiative to end discrimination and violence against women kicks off in Montenegro
- Call for Proposals: Regional Forum for the Promotion and Monitoring Progress of the Implementation of Istanbul Convention in six Western Balkan countries and Turkey
- Call for Proposals: Support the establishment and strengthening of regional platforms of civil society organizations
- Call for Proposals: Assessment of Advocacy Initiatives and Tools for Changing Gender Discriminatory Social Norms and Attitudes
Digital libraryImplementing Norms, Changing Minds
This short brief aims to provide an overview about the programme by highlighting its main objectives and roadmap for making a difference in the Western Balkan countries and Turkey.
Infographics - Gaps in Response to Violence Against Women and Girls
The infographics included in this package aim to present information drawn from a UN Women – Council of Europe conducted study about the gaps in support services for survivors of violence in Western Balkan countries and Turkey.
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UN Women works with the police, the judiciary, NGOs, social welfare and Safe House shelters and other institutions to provide domestic violence survivors better coordinated and more effective services. Read more
Creating a positive future begins in early childhood and fathers have a crucial role. to play. In Turkey, a father support programme aims to prevent domestic violence against women and girls by engaging men to encourage positive behaviour. Read more
A UN Women initiative provides survivors with psycho-social support and helps them develop the tools and skills necessary to secure their financial stability. Read more
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