"Implementing Norms, Changing Minds": A Successful Journey Against Gender-Based Violence
After six years of dedicated work, the UN Women regional programme Ending Violence Against Women and Girls in the Western Balkans and Turkiye “Implementing Norms, Changing Minds” comes to a close. Civil society organizations, government representatives and partners met to take stock of achievements, challenges, and the way forward. This initiative funded by the European Union achieved significant progress in combatting gender-based discrimination and violence against women and girls in Albania.
UN Women Representative in Albania, Michele Ribotta highlighted that “thanks to the work of civil society organizations, many more women today receive the full menu of services to keep them safe and start a new life, free from violence, dependency and abuse.”
“By ratifying the Istanbul convention, the EU has confirmed that the “European project” is first and foremost based on norms and values. The EU will continue to support Albania in the fight to counter violence against women, in close partnership with UN Women,” said Hubert Perr, head of Cooperation with the EU Delegation to Albania.
The programme strengthened the role of women's organizations and their collaboration in improving legal provisions as well as their implementation at the local level. A Monitoring Network Against Gender-Based Violence including over 40 organizations was established in 2018 and had a crucial role in monitoring and advocating for legal and policy changes.
Organizations presented their key achievements during their work with service providers to strengthen the referral mechanisms in over 15 municipalities targeted by the across the country. Over 300 service providers from Coordinated Referral Mechanisms are now better equipped to provide specialized support in line with international standards (CEDAW and the Istanbul Convention).
To guarantee that women who have experienced violence can access specialized support, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, the programme supported organizations offering information, counselling. Free legal aid and other forms of services. Over 5,000 women benefitted from general and specialized services. In addition to immediate support, organizations worked towards more long-term solutions for survivors. Since June 2021, 139 women survivors of violence and their 252 children in the municipalities of Kukes, Korça, Berat and Diber reintegrated economically and socially.
Participants discussed the strategies they employed so that women from marginalized groups (Roma, LGBTQI+ and women with disabilities) could benefit from immediate, quality, accessible and equitable support. Around 325 women survivors of violence accessed short and medium-term support, through legal and psycho-social counselling, representation in court and support to obtain protection orders.
To prevent violence from happening in the first place, the programme tackled social norms and behaviors through innovative national and online campaigns, reaching out to more than 50 thousand people. They were informed and encouraged to not be bystanders to any form of gender-based violence, identify and reject harmful norms that justify any form of violence against women, while women and girls learned about their rights, how to report violence and access services.
UN Women and other UN Agencies in the country will integrate the valuable insights and outcomes from this EU funded programme into their forthcoming collaborative efforts to eradicate violence against women and girls.
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