Addressing intersecting and multiple forms of discrimination: 
leaving no one behind

By acknowledging the structural inequalities that lie at the intersection of gender and other factors such as age, disability, and membership of a particular ethnic group, ‘Implementing Norms, Changing Minds’ places a strong focus on tackling multiple and intersecting forms discriminations where gender aspects are involved.


The established Regional Expert Working Group on Intersectional Approaches offers a unique opportunity for engagement and dialogue with a wide range of stakeholders on the topic of intersectional oppressions. This engagement includes but is not limited to: UN bodies, intergovernmental and regional organizations such as the Council of Europe (CoE) and the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), national and regional organizations led ‘by and for’ women from disadvantaged groups and minority groups, women’s organizations seeking to develop a stronger intersectional approach to their work, national human rights institutions, and specialized governmental agencies.


Alongside this engagement and dialogue, the programme is bringing attention to addressing intersecting and multiple forms of discrimination through the facilitation of key research. In 2018, over 40 ‘by and for’ organizations representing minoritized groups of women from all programme-participating countries informed the research report published by Imkaan, “A thousand ways to solve our problems: An analysis of existing Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) approaches for minoritized women and girls in the Western Balkans and Turkey.”

The value of intersectionality in unders

The report examines the value of intersectionality as a concept to understand the intersection of gender with other inequalities, such as sexuality, gender identity, ethnicity, indigeneity, immigration status, and disability. Read the report here.

In 2019, Imkaan published three policy briefs that examine the importance of services and support designed to meet the specific needs of minority women and girls facing violence and discrimination, as mandated by the Istanbul Convention. The briefs assess and provide recommendations regarding the need for sustainable funding for organizations that serve minority groups of women and girls; the value of intersectionality as a concept to understand the intersection of gender with other inequalities, such as sexuality, gender identity, ethnicity, indigeneity, immigration status, and disability; and the lack of disaggregated baseline data on violence against women and girls, particularly those from minority groups


Following the research, Imkaan is leading the collaboration, connection and learning among ‘by and for’ organizations/ activists across countries through: developing communities of practice for ‘by and for’ organizations to share expertise, points of innovation, and promising practices; co-producing a participatory and innovative training programme on intersectional approaches to VAWG, which draws on the expertise of local leaders/practitioners and knowledge of ‘by and for’ organizations; and producing ‘promising practice briefings’ that ‘by and for’ organizations can use as advocacy tools in the future.

In Albania, more than 500 women and girl members of marginalized communities (persons with disabilities, Roma and Egyptian women, and LGBTI+ community members) are better informed on various forms of violence and services available to victims of violence in their areas through information sessions held by ADRF and HRDC.

ADRF, in partnership with the Roma Women Rights Centre and LGBT Alliance, provided key insights on violence against marginalized communities through their report “Violence against women and girls from disadvantaged communities - An overview of the phenomenon of violence against women and girls from Roma, LGBT and disability communities.” The findings of the report were shared at a conference with key decision-makers to bring their attention to the disproportionate violence committed against marginalized communities. Findings were also used to raise the issue of violence against women with disabilities during Albania’s reporting to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2019. Through nine information sessions held by these partners, 175 LGBTI+ community members, Roma and Egyptian community members, and persons with disabilities are better informed on various forms of violence for which they can seek protection, as well as the services available for survivors of violence. In addition, around 60 service providers are better equipped to deal with cases of violence against women from these groups. A user-friendly guide with this information – including in alternative formats for women with disabilities (easy read format, Braille, and with audio accompaniments) – was shared with these communities.

Regarding the normative framework, domestic violence legislation now includes improved procedures for the protection of persons with disabilities as a result of recommendations made by Monitoring Network on Gender-based Violence, a network of 48 organizations working to end VAW.

Furthermore, ADRF has provided an outlet for women survivors of violence from these three groups to tell their stories through videos, photography and written storytelling, with the aim of attracting attention to violence experienced by marginalized groups, for whom violence is little discussed, researched and understood. A photo exhibition is traveling in several cities around the countries, showcasing stories of Roma, LBTI and women with disabilities and their shared experiences of violence. A video following the stories of 6 women from these communities is being used as a tool to increase awareness, encourage discussions and challenge existing norms and perspectives.


In Bosnia and Herzegovina, organizations that represent marginalized communities – such as Roma women, women with disabilities, single mothers, and women in rural communities – are better equipped to report on the specific status of the groups they represent through capacity building workshops held by United Women Banja Luka. In addition, over 70 women from rural communities are better able to identify various forms of VAW and the protective services available in their communities through trainings organized by Vive Zene. Finally, 56 representatives of service providers have improved their understanding of issues related to multiple discrimination and the specific needs of women belonging to disadvantaged groups through 3 workshops on anti-discrimination, prejudice and stereotypes in community work held by Bolja Buducnost Roma Women’s Association.


To build the trust of Roma women toward local service providers, Bolja Buducnost Roma Women’s Association brought together over 100 Roma women and representatives of service provider institutions in 3 municipalities to discuss issues related to unequal access to services in the Roma community and to allow women to directly share their concerns with service providers. As a result, 16 Roma women received direct assistance to access services in their local communities. In addition, nearly 700 individuals have received assistance through a Roma mediator programme that bridges the gap between Roma communities and local institutions. Implemented in 3 municipalities, the mediator programme assists community members in accessing rights in the areas of social protection, labor, health care, obtaining personal and other documents, legal aid and humanitarian assistance.


With the programme’s support, the Roma Women’s Network is developing a platform of measures for advocacy on Roma women’s rights. In 2020, Bosnia and Herzegovina state-level actors will be working on drafting the new Action plan for Roma population in BiH, where the Roma Women’s Network will take active part in providing the specific perspective of Roma women with the aim to reflect the needs of women better in the Action plan.


In North Macedonia, the National Roma Centrum (NRC) met with 50 representatives of local institutions that provide services to victims of violence to inform them of the right of Roma victims to receive essential services and of the free legal aid service available for Roma women and girls who are victims of violence and discrimination. Additionally, NRC provided free legal aid or representation to 40 Roma women victims of discrimination or domestic violence and built the capacities of 12 young Roma girls from 6 municipalities for using new technologies for research and leadership.

Through their participation in trainings and community study circles, 72 Roma women, girls, boys and men increased their knowledge of how to recognize gender-based violence and where to report it and ask for protection, and 127 Roma girls and boys increased their understanding of the issues related to gender equality and gender discrimination.

NRC produced the research report “Availability and access to support services for Roma women and girls survivors of violence in Kicevo, Kumanovo, Veles, Shtip, Kocani and Prilep” and the public policy document, which were promoted in six target municipalities among the representatives of all relevant institutions.


In Montenegro, videos featuring the real-life stories of six Roma and Egyptian women who were victims of child arranged marriages were broadcasted on local TV stations and radio stations to raise awareness on the consequences of early and forced marriage.

Furthermore, three additional TV broadcasts on VAW raised awareness among the general public. In the third broadcast, an expert in Islamic sciences discussed the religious prohibition of VAW. In the fourth broadcast, an expert from the Ministry of Interior Affairs discussed the institutional framework on VAW. In the fifth broadcast, a prosecution expert discussed the prosecutorial aspects of VAW.  


In southern Montenegro, conditions have also been made for setting up new services for survivors of VAW, where thus far, they have been nonexistent. Programme partner “Integritet” started to work with women members of minority Albanian communities in Ulcinj and Tuzi, while NGO “Ksena” started work in Herceg Novi. In all three municipalities, there were no services developed for VAW, despite high levels of reporting through the national SOS telephone line.


In Kosovo, an awareness-raising door-to-door campaign conducted by the Network of Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptian Women Organizations of Kosovo (NRAEWOK) engaged more than 200 Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian community members in discussions about the issue of early marriages. Additionally, in September 2018, through their participation in the presentation of the report “Capacity and Knowledge Assessment with Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian CSOs in the area of Early Marriages and Laws” by NRAEWOK, local and central level institutions, such as the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and the Ministry of Justice, are better informed on the issue of early marriages within ethnic minority communities and the recommended actions to prevent them.

In addition, more than 70 key service providers from Northern Kosovo – including representatives of CSOs from Serbian communities and members of local Coordination Mechanisms for Protection Against Domestic Violence in the sectors of health, law enforcement, justice, education, and social services – now have the knowledge and capacity to implement the standards outlined in the Istanbul Convention and other international and national legislation through their participation in capacity-building trainings organized by NGO ACTIV.


In addition, more than 70 key service providers from Northern Kosovo – including representatives of CSOs from Serbian communities and members of local Coordination Mechanisms for Protection Against Domestic Violence in the sectors of health, law enforcement, justice, education, and social services – now have the knowledge and capacity to implement the standards outlined in the Istanbul Convention and other international and national legislation through their participation in capacity-building trainings organized by NGO ACTIV.


In Serbia, the “Report on the experiences of women with disabilities in gender-based and domestic violence” produced by partner …iz kruga Vojvodina revealed shocking levels of violence against women with disabilities. The report served as the basis for developing recommendations to improve support services for women with disabilities, which were presented to the relevant institutions in the city of Novi Sad. Examples of good practices of institutions in providing services to women with disabilities were identified through mapping and analyzing services for survivors of domestic and gender-based violence who are women with disabilities by …iz kruga Vojvodina. The selected good practices will be replicated in five municipalities in the province of Vojvodina through a mentoring programme tailored to the needs of each municipality.


Furthermore, over 70 rural women and women with disabilities from Central Serbia raised their knowledge and skills on the provision of specialized services to women victims of violence from marginalized groups through 6 workshops organized by Association Sandglass.


Finally, the capacities of the members of Roma Women Network (RWN) were increased through a series of targeted meetings led by CSO Women Space in response to challenges identified in a capacity assessment survey. Through trainings held by RWN, 15 representatives of Roma women’s organizations increased 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.

In Turkey, over 30 representatives of media outlets are better informed on rights-based journalism and how to avoid using discriminatory language against refugee women in media reports through workshops organized by Women’s Studies Association. These workshops increased media members’ awareness of the power and impact of local media in contributing to bias and prejudice against refugees and refugee women. Through capacity building workshops held by Foundation for Women’s Solidarity, 45 women’s CSOs working in the field of EVAW and 45 local actors working in the field of refugee rights, including representatives from government ministries, have increased their knowledge on the rights of refugee women, their legal status in Turkey, and their specific needs.

In addition, more than 1,200 Syrian refugee women are better informed of their rights in the areas of marriage and divorce, VAW, sexual crimes, available justice services and access to these services through their participation in over 150 peer-to-peer meetings initiated by Turkish NGO Support to Life. As part of this initiative, Support to Life produced the report “Awareness-raising among Refugee and Migrant Women on How to Access Justice Services.” 

Good Practices_cover-4.jpg

This report summarizes lessons learned and best practices on awareness-raising initiatives on how to access justice services among refugee and migrant women in Turkey. The report is available in Arabic, English and Turkey. Read the report here.

47 Syrian parents and 16 Syrian girls (between the ages of 10 to 16) were informed about the concepts of gender and child, early and forced marriages (CEFM) and available legal mechanisms to combat CEFM in Turkey. During the workshops, drivers of the behaviour of marrying off daughters and Syrian girls’ needs and problems in schools were also discussed, and possible solutions were suggested. Further to this, 20 Syrian teachers were informed about the social, economic, psychological and physiological consequences of gender inequality and CEFM and how to practice and encourage gender equality in the classroom. Awareness was raised among teachers on how gender inequality negatively impacts girls’ schooling and about their roles and responsibilities as teachers in preventing CEFM.


With the programme’s support to Mother and Child Education Foundation (ACEV), more than 550 fathers improved their communication skills within the family and their sense of responsibility in regard to child-care. In addition, 650 fathers were reached through ACEV’s reanimated “I am a Father” campaign, which promotes fathers’ involvement in equitable and nonviolent caregiving and parenting practices, and 35,000 people were reached through the distribution of campaign materials on involved fatherhood.  


30 staff members of Mother and Child Education Foundation (ACEV) increased their understanding of gender issues, with a special focus on the engagement of men and boys, through capacity building trainings that focused on 1) the concept of gender, 2) critical studies on men and masculinities, and 3) the linkage between ACEV’s work and this field of research.

Regional report on discrimination of Rom

This report examines the disproportionate discrimination and violence faced by Roma women in the areas of healthcare, child marriage, and protection in cases of domestic violence. Read the report here.

At the regional level, the 2019 Regional report on discrimination of Roma women in the area of healthcare, child marriages and support and protection in cases of domestic violence reveals shocking levels of violence and discrimination against Roma women in the Western Balkans. The report, based on survey findings from four countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia), examines patterns of violence and discrimination vis-à-vis states' obligations to comply with anti-discrimination and anti-violence frameworks, such as national legislation, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (the Istanbul Convention).