December 22, 2023 | Friday

16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence

UN Women Campaign activities

16 Days of Activism showcased the power of communal efforts to address pressing issues, our fight to eliminate the violence against women and girls will persist as there’s no excuse to relent in our commitment. It is a commitment that transcends time, and it is our collective responsibility to ensure its continuity until the echoes of equality reverberate in every corner of our global community. 

The blog below has been put together by the UN Women Kosovo team and highlights some of the key activities that took place within the campaign in Kosovo, emphasizing the UN Women’s partnership with the European Union Office in Kosovo to combat gender-based violence in Kosovo and ensure the advancement of women’s rights in Kosovo.

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an annual global campaign that commences on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and ends on 10 December, Human Rights Day. This campaign is used as an organizing strategy by individuals and organizations around the world to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls (VAWG), indicating that violence against women is the most pervasive breach of human rights worldwide.

Every year, the campaign is marked under a global theme. The 2023 global theme of the campaign was to Invest to Prevent Violence Against Women & Girls and focused on the importance of financing different prevention strategies to stop violence from occurring in the first place. 

As per every year the official campaign color, orange, which is also the unifying theme in all activities, symbolizes a brighter future, free of violence, for women and girls on a global scale.

The 16 Days of Activism campaign has been marked in Kosovo since 2010. UN Women has coordinated activities through the UN Women-chaired multistakeholder Security and Gender Group (SGG) to ensure that UN agencies, international organizations, local institutions and civil society organizations working on gender and security issues are united in marking the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence (GBV). This year, UN Women has coordinated the joint SGG calendar of activities. 

In 2023 UN Women organized several activities to commemorate the 16 Days of Activism joining forces among different stakeholders, starting from institutions, the private sector, media, civil society organizations, and academia. 

Highlighting the successful long-standing partnership with the European Union, UN Women and the EU Office in Kosovo organized the closing event of the UN Women Regional Programme on Ending Violence against Women and Girls ‘’Implementing Norms, Changing Minds’’ which was funded by the European Union. The event marked key programme results through reflections from the programme’s beneficiaries and discussed ways forward. It highlighted the Programme’s impact in Kosovo and the region on promoting international norms like CEDAW and the CoE’s Istanbul Convention, enhancing support services, improving data collection, and addressing gender stereotypes. Moreover, the program’s efforts contributed to achieving Sustainable Development Goals. On this significant occasion, attended by Minister of Justice Albulena Haxhiu, Head of the EU Office Tomáš Szunyog, ambassadors, and partners, the programme’s results aligned with the global theme of 16 Days, underscoring the importance of ensuring adequate financing for diverse prevention strategies aimed at stopping violence from occurring in the first place. 

Moreover, with the support of the European Union in Kosovo, UN Women supported the Ministry of Justice in launching the “Three new modules integrated into the database for the identification of cases of domestic violence”. In 2019, UN Women launched the integrated database for cases of domestic violence and has since then been working on improving this database, recognizing the urgent need for comprehensive data and improved coordination among stakeholders. The initiative was driven by the Istanbul Convention, highlighting the necessity to address the lack of data and insufficient collaboration. UN Women undertook the task of developing the database, training relevant actors, and refining the system over the years. The database is taken as a good example for the region and beyond. It enables the monitoring and prosecution of domestic violence cases in Kosovo, and ensures accountability, by obliging relevant institutions to feed the database with the necessary information from central and local levels.

UN Women, in collaboration with the University of Pristina, illuminated the Rectorate building in orange calling for an end to violence against women and symbolizing the importance of academia towards this goal.  UN Women also supported the drafting of the First Action Plan for Gender Equality for 2023/4 – 2025/6 of the University of Prishtina, aiming to establish an equal and inclusive environment. Supported by the Agency for Gender Equality within the Prime Minister’s Office and UN Women through the regional programme “Transformative Financing for Gender Equality Towards more Transparent, Inclusive and Accountable Governance in the Western Balkans” funded by Sida, this document was launched at the end of the campaign. It serves as a comprehensive policy framework for the upcoming three years, during which the University of Pristina is committed to executing initiatives and projects aimed at mitigating gender inequalities. Four objectives include cultivating a culture that fosters gender equality, attaining gender equality in decision-making positions, integration of gender perspective in lecturing and research, and prevention and protection against sexual harassment in the university, the Plan aims to establish a thriving academic environment for staff and students.

Further, being a structure that is actively committed to promoting gender equality and combating gender-based violence, the European Union in Kosovo joined the campaign by participating in the events organized as part of the campaign. Moreover, they conducted an impactful social media campaign, disseminating messages across their channels with the goal of heightening awareness and taking a stand against gender-based violence among their audience. 

UN Women extended support to the Ministry of Justice’s activities during the 16 Days of Activism. During the “United against Violence-Enough” regional conference organized by the Ministry of Justice and the Office of the President. At the conference, UN Women coordinated a session addressing Digital Violence and Gender Bias in AI, featuring Teuta Sahatqija, Ambassador of Women in Tech for Kosovo. Sahatqija emphasized the imperative to eliminate cyber violence and gender bias in AI to eradicate violence against women and girls. According to the latest UN Women report, titled “The Dark Side of Digitalization: Technology-Facilitated Violence against Women in Eastern Europe and Central Asia,” 43.3% of women in Kosovo have experienced at least one form of technology-facilitated violence. UN Women also supported the opening event of the campaign organized by the Ministry of Justice and extended logistical support to other campaign events organized by the Ministry.

In addition to UN Women social media communication, advocacy has been done for increased support for women’s rights movements, empowering them to continue their crucial role in preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls. Women’s rights organizations are frontline champions in the pursuit of a more equitable and violence-free world. Funding projects for women has the potential to reduce cases of intimate partner violence by up to 50%.

The UN Women office in Kosovo remains highly dedicated to combating gender-based violence by working closely with institutions and communities and also implementing the Gender Equality Facility, a project funded by the European Union. This project adopts a multi-faceted approach, incorporating community engagement, awareness campaigns, capacity building, and policy advocacy. The project recognizes the interconnectedness of gender-based violence with broader societal structures and works on transforming these structures by advocating for legislative changes and aligning national laws with EU standards, promoting gender-sensitive policies, and fostering a supportive institutional environment. 

Lastly, as these 16 Days of Activism showcased the power of communal efforts to address pressing issues, our fight to eliminate the violence against women and girls will persist as there’s no excuse to relent in our commitment. It is a commitment that transcends time, and it is our collective responsibility to ensure its continuity until the echoes of equality reverberate in every corner of our global community.