[Brussels, 28 February 2014] As a result of the Bulgarian Women’s Lobby campaign on the promotion of the Istanbul convention last autumn, the Alliance for Protection against Domestic Violence, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the Bulgarian Council on Refugees and Migrant and the Bulgarian Women’s Lobby, co-organised a conference in Sofia on "Networking for Prevention of Gender-Based Violence in the Context of International Protection", on the 27th of February.
Aiming at developing a partnership between women’s and migrant/refugees’ NGOs, governmental institutions and services, the conference was well attended, including by representatives of justice ministry, police and border police, ministry of interior and anti-trafficking unit.
At the opening of the conference, the UNHCR Representative in Bulgaria, Mr Weil, stressed the importance of protecting women from gender-based violence everywhere, "one of the three priority areas for UNHCR".
The first panel, moderated by Iliana Stoycheva-Balabanova (EWL board member), presented the international policy, legislation and practices for the prevention of violence against women.
- Colette De Troy (director of the EWL observatory on VAW) explained how the Istanbul Convention brings major progress for prevention and protection of all women, including migrant and asylum seekers.
- Genoveva Tisheva (Chair of the Alliance for Protection against Domestic Violenc) reminded the national and international commitments of Bulgaria in this area, and highlighted the results of the cases brought to the European Court of Justice and the CEDAW Committee.
- Examples of good practices but also problems encountered by NGOs providing services to migrant/refugees women were given by members of the Bulgarian Red Cross for Protection of Refugee Women against Gender Based Violence (Mariana Stoyanova).
- The conference ended by discussing the cooperation and partnership between state institutions, civil society organizations and refugee communities for prevention and protection against gender-based violence.
This was an excellent opportunity to bring together actors in different fields to examine how integrated policies and strategies can be developed to protect all women, which could be developed in other countries.