Press Release: Women’s rights advocates from the Western Balkans and Turkey gather to discuss new pathways to gender equality and call for urgent action


On 9 September 2020, feminists and women’s rights advocates from the Western Balkans and Turkey region will gather virtually to discuss an urgent pathway to deliver on the commitments made in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the most comprehensive and transformative global agenda for the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, adopted in Beijing 25 years ago.

This gathering, entitled Future of Equality in the Western Balkans and Turkey, will kick off a series of regional consultations named She Talks which will tackle the challenges that threaten the achievement of gender equality commitments and call for urgent and robust action to create transformative change in the lives of women and girls. The consultations will garner feminist solidarity and collaboration within the region.

The four consecutive two-hour consultations will bring together a diverse group of participants from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo[1], Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia and Turkey, to plan their priorities for the next five years. The outcome of the consultations will also feed into the Generation Equality Forum, a civil society–centered, global gathering for gender equality, convened by UN Women and co-hosted by the governments of Mexico and France.

The consultations are organized by the Women's Platform for Development of Serbia, in collaboration with UN Women, and with financial support from the UN Women Serbia project "Support to Priority Actions for Gender Equality in Serbia", funded by the European Union.

Despite significant advances in gender equality and women’s rights in the region since the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action, progress remains very slow and faltering in many cases. With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, even the limited gains in women’s rights made in the past decades are at risk of being rolled back. The pandemic is deepening pre-existing inequalities and exposing vulnerabilities in social, political and economic systems.

The first consultation on 9 September will begin by reviewing the progress made since the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action 25 years ago. The discussion will center around the critical areas of concern flagged in Beijing: reducing women's poverty, educating and training women, improving women's health, eliminating violence against women, protecting women in armed conflict, economic equality, supporting women’s leadership and decision-making, developing mechanisms for improving the position of women, protection of women's human rights, advancing gender equality in the media, and the role of women in environmental protection. The participants will discuss gender equality priorities for the Western Balkans and Turkey region and the urgent gender equality issues that need to be tackled.

The second consultation on Innovation, Technology and Gender Equality will address the following questions: Is there a market for women's innovative ideas and to what extent do existing innovations and technologies respond to the needs of women from the Western Balkans and Turkey? How should women’s innovation be supported?

The third consultation will tackle Climate justice and gender equality issues. It will address the protection of human rights and urge for justice for the vulnerable groups and communities most affected by climate change, including women and girls.

The consultations will be rounded off by a discussion between women's organizations and national gender equality mechanisms, the central government institutions responsible for the implementation of gender equality measures across policies and government programmes. Women's organizations will present the conclusions of their consultations to representatives of state gender equality mechanisms.

[1] All references to Kosovo should be understood to be in the context of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999).