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Strengthening CSOs, CSOs platforms and networks for monitoring and
reporting on human rights instruments

CSOs, in particular women's organizations, play a crucial role in the promotion of gender equality and the elimination of gender-based discrimination and harmful gender stereotypes. They are key advocacy stakeholders for mobilizing governments from commitment to implementation of international normative standards. Furthermore, women's organizations are key stakeholders in ensuring that the perspectives and voices of minority and marginalized groups of women are heard by policy-makers and accounted for in policy.


‘Implementing Norms, Changing Minds’ strives to empower CSOs to hold governments accountable for the enforcement of national and international commitments to end VAW by:

  • Building the capacities of CSOs and CSO networks to monitor and report on the implementation of government commitments to ending VAW (EVAW) at every level – local, national, regional, and international – and for all women, with a specific focus on marginalized groups of women; and

  • Increasing the collaboration of CSOs working to EVAW by establishing new CSO networks and strengthening existing networks.


In Albania, a network of 48 organizations - the Monitoring Network on Gender-based Violence – was established as an advocacy platform to raise priorities and concerns in the area of EVAW. On behalf of the Network, the Centre for Legal Civic Initiatives submitted a shadow report to the CEDAW Committee in March 2019 on the implementation of four recommendations on which Albania reported in January 2019. A shadow report was also submitted for the Universal Periodic Review in the context of Albania’s review due in May 2019. In addition, representatives of the Network were also present during the pre-session organized by OHCHR in Geneva, where they presented key issues and recommendations in relation to gender-based violence. Alongside this, the Albanian Women Empowerment Network (AWEN) and Gender Alliance for Development Center (GADC) developed a monitoring methodology and trained 12 representatives of local CSOs in six municipalities to effectively monitor the implementation of the National Strategy on Gender Equality 2016-2020.


At the local level, around 220 representatives of CSOs in 11 municipalities received training on international standards against gender-based violence and the use of these standards for advocacy initiatives. Furthermore, following technical trainings, 45 women’s organizations are better equipped to monitor the government’s actions in implementing international obligations and to report to the relevant human rights and monitoring bodies, including the CEDAW Committee, GREVIO, and the UN Human Rights Council.


In Bosnia and Herzegovina, 22 women’s organizations – including those representing Roma women, women with disabilities, and single mothers – are better able to monitor the implementation of the Istanbul Convention and collect data for alternative reporting to GREVIO as a result of a capacity building process led by CSO United Women Banja Luka. Additionally, this platform of CSOs has developed a toolkit for monitoring the implementation of the Istanbul Convention. The toolkit consists of indicators and areas of focus chosen by the national platform, as well as instructions for CSOs on how to contribute to monitoring by collecting data on cases in the field.


In Kosovo, through capacity-building trainings and awareness-raising sessions conducted by the Lawyer’s Association ‘NORMA,’ 20 CSOs have strengthened capacities to advocate for the implementation of the Kosovo National Strategy on Protection from Domestic Violence and the Action Plan 2016-2020. In addition, the first Monitoring Report of the National Strategy was launched in November 2018.


In North Macedonia, the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights (HCHR), delivered training for 26 representatives of 9 women’s rights CSOs and CSO networks to build their capacities on the general and practical use of human rights complaint mechanisms under the Optional Protocol to CEDAW in cases of gender discrimination or VAW. For the first time, a case of discrimination based on gender and ethnicity that is admissible for CEDAW Committee has been identified by HCHR, and the submission process is underway.

In Montenegro, a coalition of four women’s CSOs led by the Women’s Rights Centre (WRC), produced and submitted a GREVIO shadow report in June 2017 on the implementation of the Istanbul Convention, providing insight on VAW and domestic violence in the country. Additionally, the programme is undertaking an intensive capacity-building process for CSOs in order to enable them to fulfil the conditions for accreditation and licensing as official service providers for victims of violence. This would allow them to become strategic partners of the state in the prevention, protection and prosecution of cases of VAW.


In Serbia, through trainings held by the Roma Women Network (RWN), 15 Roma women’s organizations improved their ability to collect data according to uniform methodological standards in order to report on Roma women’s human rights violations to the CEDAW Committee and GREVIO. Additionally, under the guidance of Bibija Roma Women’s Centre, the network developed a shadow report in the last quarter of 2018 to submit to the CEDAW Committee and GREVIO following the submission of the sixth periodic report on the implementation of CEDAW by the state, as well as the first state report to GREVIO on the specific position of Roma women and girls in Serbia.


Finally, as a result of strategic mentoring organized by SOS Network Vojvodina to increase the capacities of 10 women’s organizations, shadow reports were submitted to GREVIO and the CEDAW Committee. The reports present the perspective of a broad civil society coalition on the status of women in the country, including situational analyses and recommendations for the following particularly vulnerable groups of women: Roma women, migrant women, single mothers, women with disabilities, rural women, elderly women, LGBT women, women victims of violence, and women victims of trafficking.


In Turkey, 65 women’s CSOs are better equipped to monitor and report on the implementation of CEDAW and the Istanbul Convention through their participation in trainings and an online support platform support run by the Turkish Women’s Union. In addition, over 20 organizations of Syrian and Turkish women convened in a platform ‘A Woman is a Land to a Woman,’ under the support of KADAV (Kadın Dayanışma Vakfı – Foundation for Women’s Solidarity), with a view to increase members’ knowledge on the requirements in CEDAW and the Istanbul Convention, reporting and monitoring mechanisms, and the national legal framework regarding VAW.

At the regional level, the first regional CSO platform addressing VAW, the Civil Society Strengthening Platform (CSSP), led by the Women Against Violence in Europe – WAVE Network, is well established and directs its efforts towards strengthening women’s voices and agency, including those of women’s organizations working with and representing women from marginalized groups. Nine organizations from seven countries(2) strengthened their capacities to monitor and report on CEDAW and the Istanbul Convention through trainings involving international experts and GREVIO members held in Serbia, Turkey and Montenegro. In addition, the network is implementing an evidence based action plan informed by mapping and research work, inter alia; Doing it right: Making women’s networks accessible, with a special focus on women from minority and disadvantaged

groups (led by AWEN Network, in collaboration with the Gender Alliance Development Centre); The Benefits and Challenges of Women’s Networks in the Western Balkans and Turkey. A Comparative Report (led by Association Fenomena); and Briefing Paper Benefits and Challenges the CSSP Platform has faced in the Process of Implementing and Monitoring the Istanbul Convention (led by WAVE).

With regards to supporting minority women in the region, Bibija Roma Women’s Centre is building the capacity of Roma and pro-Roma women’s rights civil society networks and platforms in collecting and analyzing data to inform international and human rights instruments reports. Bibija has directly engaged 3 partner organizations: Roma Women and Youth Association “LULUDI” (North Macedonia), NGO Young Roma (Montenegro), and NGO Otaharin (BiH).

2. Albanian Women Empowering Network and Gender Alliance for Development Centre, and Woman to Woman from Albania; Foundation United Women Banja Luka from Bosnia and Herzegovina; Women’s Wellness Centre from Kosovo; National Council for Gender Equality and National Network to end VAW and DV – Violence against Women from North Macedonia; SOS Hotline for Women and Children Victims of Violence Niksic from Montenegro; Association Fenomena from Serbia; and Kadın Dayanışma Vakfı –the Foundation for Women’s Solidarity from Turkey 


This research report offers an overview of the current situation regarding the accessibility of women’s civil society networks in the Western Balkans and Turkey, including two case studies that provide examples of good practice. It represents an initial attempt to examine different working approaches and analyze the inclusiveness of women’s networks in the region. See the report here.