EU and UN Women team up in their efforts in protecting women and girls from violence in BiH

Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread and devastating human rights violations, preventing fulfilment of women and girls rights. Gender-based violence can happen to anyone, and it continues to be an obstacle to achieving equality and execution of women and girls’ human rights. In order to bring focus to this issue and foster gender equality and women’s empowerment, the European Union and UN Women embarked in to the second phase of the regional project ending violence against women and girls “Implementing Norms, Changing Minds”.

Within the second phase of the project, the EU and UN Women will work closely with civil society organizations representing the victims and provide sustainable support to safe houses, SOS helplines, free legal aid aiming at introducing systemic changes in legislation and policies in the area of domestic violence.

To that end, four contracts were signed with the Association Vive zene Tuzla, Foundation Lara Bijeljina, Roma Women’s Association Bolja buducnost and Foundation for Local Democracy Sarajevo. The projects will build up on the previous EU assistance and will continue to push the needle on protection from and prevention of domestic violence and violence against women in BiH.

Through innovative approaches to attitude and behaviour change, as well as long-standing experience of CSOs working in this field, the projects will work on several tracks aiming to widen the protection of victims and advocate for stronger implementation of measures for perpetrators. The EU funded project with the Association Vive Zene, will aim at influencing attitudes and actions of police officers to better respond on cases of domestic violence which will inevitably improve protection of victims.

Essential services for protection from domestic violence and violence against women need to be delivered in an accessible and coordinated manner, so that each woman and girl are equally safe when accessing health care, social protection and justice. In collaboration with Foundation Lara Bijeljina and Safe network (network of CSOs running safe houses in BiH), the EU and UN Women strive to raise capacities of service providers in four cantons in FBiH – Sarajevo, Tuzla, Una-Sana Canton and Herzegovina-Neretva Canton – and three regions in Republika Srpska – Doboj, Bijeljina and Banja Luka. The objective is to better coordinate their response, inform victims of their rights in the way that is understandable to them and to be better able to assess the safety risks in each case.

In partnership with Roma Women’s Association Bolja buducnost, the EU and UN Women will work on building trust between marginalized communities and local service providers in Prnjavor, Vukosavlje, Bijeljina and Kakanj, while empowering women to exercise their rights and advocate for their priorities to be included in policy planning processes.

In collaboration with Foundation for Local Democracy, the EU and UN Women will build upon the momentum created so far in terms of advocacy for improved legislation and policy framework for protection from domestic violence, including sustainable support to specialist services (safe houses, SOS helplines, psychosocial support).