Peace and security and engendering humanitarian action

Women’s Corner. Photo by UN Women/Bojana Barlovac
Photo: UN Women/Bojana Barlovac

Since the Syrian refugee and migration crisis began in 2015, UN Women has supported the Government of Serbia to secure the safety and dignity of women and girl refugees and migrants and to develop a gender-sensitive asylum system that meets international humanitarian standards.

Women and girls make up 64 per cent of asylum seekers in Serbia, according to the Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (RRMRP), and face increased risks of gender-based violence during their often protracted stay.

To build long-term resilience, UN Women supports national institutions and women's NGOs to ensure that women’s specific needs are met and that gender is integrated into Serbia’s planning and response to refugees and migrants.

To support initiatives that address the unique challenges faced by women and girl refugees and migrants in Serbia, UN Women in Serbia:

  • Collects and shares with women refugees and migrants exposed to violence information on their legal rights, available protection mechanisms and services, and the risks of human trafficking and smuggling;
  • Helps women refugees and migrants develop skills and personal resilience using language, culture and handicraft workshops and programmes;
  • Empowers women refugees and migrants by increasing their awareness of reproductive health rights, improving their access to healthcare, and helping them share their integration challenges with Serbian women;
  • Advocates for gender-sensitive laws and changing frontline workers’ attitudes to ensure tailored support to women and girl refugees and migrants.

Serbia is also prone to natural disasters whose devastating consequences often exacerbate gender inequality. Women’s participation is vital to sustainable recovery operations, yet they are often excluded from disaster risk reduction and reconstruction processes. 

UN Women works with national and local governments, local civil society and women activists to strengthen the inclusion of women and gender in disaster risk reduction.

This work is supported by the global UN Women, IFRC and UNISDR disaster risk reduction programme, Addressing Gender Inequality of Risk in a Changing Climate. Based on the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the programme addresses gender inequalities that are worsened by disasters to reduce the loss of lives and livelihoods and enhance community resilience to natural hazards.

UN Women in Action in Serbia

In October 2016, UN Women and Oxfam opened Serbia’s first Women’s Corner in the Refugee Aid Miksaliste transit centre. This safe place allows women refugees and migrants to rest, take their mind off their long journeys and uncertain futures, meet Serbian women and enjoy music, discussions, art workshops.

Working with a mobile team from the NGO Atina, UN Women provided prompt 24/7 support and self-help workshops to women refugees and migrants in Belgrade, Sid, Subotica, Presevo and in Bogovadja.

Supported by the joint UN Women-Oxfam project Migrants and Refugees crisis in the Western Balkan countries, the Belgrade Center for Human Rights in 2016 wrote in October 2016 an Asylum Act Gender Analysis that included a list of amendments to Serbia’s draft Asylum Law.