Back Non-governmental Organisations in the Western Balkans gather to address women’s access to justice, in line with European standards

Western Balkans 17 November 2023
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Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) from the Western Balkans joined the Council of Europe teams working on gender equality, anti-discrimination, children’s rights and civil society  to identify strategic areas and methods for local NGOs to interact with legal professionals on tackling barriers and challenges women face when accessing justice. The meeting addressed the important role NGOs in the region play in supporting legal professionals to apply Council of Europe standards on equal access to justice and gender equality. Furthermore, it gathered promising practices from their experiences on engaging with legal professionals to address gender bias in the judiciary.

Several recommendations on how Council of Europe can strengthen the co-operation between women’s NGOs and legal professionals, in particular judges and prosecutors have been identified including: 

  • Give more visibility to NGOs work through Council of Europe reports and by including modules on the importance of collaboration  between NGOs  and legal professionals to address gendered barriers to access to justice, effectively, in its  capacity building efforts;
  • Engage NGOs representatives for their expertise  on equal footing with other experts in the field;
  • Consult regularly  with NGOs to assess the implementation of gender responsive justice practices and use the feedback to adapt strategies and address emerging issues.

The meeting also introduced NGOs to the methodology and toolkit for civil society organisations, developed by the Council of Europe in co-operation with Women Against Violence Europe Network (WAVE) and UN Women, to run awareness raising campaigns to promote the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) including the barriers to women’s access to justice.

This activity was implemented in  the framework of the EU and Council of Europe joint Horizontal Facility III programme – regional action on “Women’s access to justice in the Western Balkans"

Horizontal Facility III

The joint European Union and Council of Europe programme “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Türkiye” (Horizontal Facility III) is a co-operation initiative, running from 2023 until 2026.

The programme covers actions in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Türkiye. It enables the Beneficiaries to meet their reform agendas in the fields of human rights, rule of law and democracy and to comply with European standards, which is also a priority for the EU enlargement process.

The third phase of the programme is worth €41 million (85% funded by the European Union, 15% by the Council of Europe).

This website was produced with the financial support of the European Union and the Council of Europe. The views expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of either party.

*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.