Advancing the Gender Equality Agenda in the Western Balkans and Turkey

12 - 13 December 2016 | Montenegro

undp-rbec-gender-equality-conference-history-of-women-playScene from the play "The Political History of Women in Montenegro", performed on the first night of the conference. Photo Credit: Danilo Papic, UNDP

Achieving gender equality in the countries of the Western Balkans and in Turkey is a persistent challenge.

Women have not reached a critical mass of 30 percent in decision-making in most countries in the region; women’s entrepreneurship is below 10 percent on average; the gender pay gap is around 20 percent; and violence against women is unacceptably high, with 1 in 4 women facing violence from their intimate partners.

Progress towards gender equality has been slow because of poor implementation of existing policies and commitments and lack of financial support to responsible institutions and agencies. A combination of structural gender inequality and cultural factors result in multiple forms of discrimination and continuously deprive women of their rights.

About the conference

The regional conference, Advancing the Gender Equality Agenda in the Western Balkans and Turkey, took place on 12-13 December 2016 in Budva, Montenegro.

Key actors in governments, parliaments, civil society and international organizations came together for a two-day exchange on the successes and challenges in fulfilling pre-accession gender equality standards.

The conference aimed to:

  • strengthen cooperation in the Western Balkans and Turkey in fulfilling gender equality standards and commitments under international conventions, including increasing women’s political participation and combating violence against women
  • assess and address the challenges to gender equality at national and regional levels
  • strengthen the commitments and actions of decision-makers to eliminate violence against women and girls through law enforcement.

The key objective

The key objective was the creation of a Western Balkans Regional Gender Equality Platform for the Western Balkans and Turkey. The platform will emphasize that countries aspiring to fulfil the EU gender equality standards must respect equality between women and men, have institutions guaranteeing and protecting women’s rights, and strong supporting structures for the enforcement of the gender equality acquis and implementation of key legal instruments, in particular the Istanbul Convention, as well as gender equality targets as outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals and the Council of Europe Gender Equality Strategy.

The conference was organised in partnership between UNDP, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, UN Women, the EU Delegation in Montenegro, the European Institute for Gender Equality and the Ministry for Human and Minority Rights of Montenegro, in cooperation with civil society networks “I Sign”, the Central and Eastern European Network for Gender Issues and Women’s Safe House in Montenegro.

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