Broad coalition comes together to boost gender equality in the Western Balkans and TurkeyDec 13, 2016
Budva, Montenegro, 13 December, 2016 -- Participants in a regional conference on advancing gender equality in the countries of the Western Balkans* and Turkey have agreed on the need to intensify cooperation to increase women’s presence and influence in decision-making and end all forms of violence against women.
The regional conference, held in Montenegro under the auspices of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UN Women and the Council of Europe (12-13 December 2016), brought together a wide spectrum of partners in the region – from governments and parliaments to civil society – to identify concrete common challenges to the empowerment of women and gender equality that can be addressed through regional cooperation.
In addition, the conference sought to stimulate joint action and peer support to ensure that national standards on gender equality are aligned with targets outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and those of the European Union (EU).
Participants emphasized the need to strengthen institutions that safeguard women’s rights and create supporting structures for the enforcement of EU standards on gender equality and the implementation of international legal instruments, such as the Istanbul Convention on combating violence against women.
For many years, UNDP, UN Women and the Council of Europe, in collaboration with their partners, have supported the implementation of gender equality standards and mechanisms in the Western Balkans. But the region is still facing obstacles on multiple fronts.
“Gender equality is a matter of human rights. It is a matter of sustainable development. And it is also a matter of common sense,” said Cihan Sultanoğlu, Director of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States.
“To achieve significant progress in gender equality in political representation and end violence against women and girls, we need concerted actions by governments, parliaments and civil society working together to bring about real change,” she added.
The conference is expected to galvanize collaborative actions across the region through concrete measures and activities for joint capacity development, learning and peer support.
*Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
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