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Sarajevo, 20 May - First regional conference of the women’s NGOs partnership in Western Balkans on the implementation of the Istanbul Convention

[Brussels, 22 May 2014] Sarajevo, 20 May - First regional conference of the women’s NGOs partnership in Western Balkans: Moving forwards to the implementation of the Istanbul Convention

The advocacy conference held in Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) on 20th of May was organised by United Women Banja Luka - implementing organisation from BiH of the EU funded project Coordinated efforts – Towards new European standards in the protection of women from gender-based violence. The purpose of this conference was to put pressure on the national government(s) to harmonise the laws but even more their implementation with the provisions of the Convention, with a special focus on shelters for women victims of domestic violence.

Welcoming the participants, Ms Ismeta Dervoz, Member of the Parliament of BiH and of the Parliamentary Network “Women Free from Violence”, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, opened the conference by a minute of silence for the victims of flood which dramatically hit the region.

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The transnational partnership involving women’s NGOs from 6 countries: Austria, BiH, Croatia, Serbia, Former Yougoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Slovenia, which includes EWL members, has developed actions of advocacy and awareness raising, including the successful campaign “I Sign” and the results are already concrete. Not only Austria, BiH and Serbia have ratified the Istanbul Convention, but the project increased visibility of violence against women and there have been positive changes in legislation, defining strategies, adoption of protocols, etc. The process to ratify the Convention is complex, said Samra Filipovic-Hadziabdic, from the Agency for Gender Equality (BiH) but the cooperation between NGOs and engaged members of the parliament and decision makers prove to be helpful to achieve it. The European Women’s Lobby is an associated partner in this project, and Colette De Troy, Director of the EWL Observatory on violence against women, was invited to present the EWL actions and campaigns, as the call for 2016 the EU Year on violence against women and explain how and why the EWL is promoting the Istanbul Convention.

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A panel was specifically dedicated to shelters and safe houses protecting women victims of domestic violence, sharing good practices and problems in the countries of the region in relation to the standards as set up by the Istanbul Convention (article 23) and by women’s NGOs, as reminded by Maria Roesselhumer from WAVE. Feminist women’s NGOs from the region have long experience of supporting and offering protection to women from violence. However, they still face problems of sustainability, funding, autonomy in decision, lack of places. It is the responsibility of State to protect women and to recognise the expertise of NGOs.

The implementation of the Istanbul Convention starts in August 2014. The partnership provides also a good preparation for monitoring and therefore is ready to make the good will a reality.

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Programme of the conference:

conference agenda coordinated efforts sarajevo 20052014

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