Gender Based Violence against Women (GB-VAW) is one of the most pervasive forms of violence worldwide. Albania is not immune to this global pandemic that affects all countries, societies, religions, faiths and ethnic backgrounds. Addressing GB-VAW is a central development goal in its own right, and key to achieving other development outcomes for women, their families, communities and nations. Thus, eliminating GB-VAW, a precondition for equitable and inclusive sustainable development and full realization of human rights, as well as an important value and objective in itself, is a key priority for the United Nations (UN) in Albania.
What is the Project about and Expected Results
The central ambition of the 2030 Agenda of Sustainable Development to ‘leave no one behind’ will never be fulfilled if Gender-Based Violence against Women (GB-VAW) does not end. A consequence of gender inequalities deeply rooted in patriarchal norms and unbalanced power relations, GB-VAW is a mechanism through which discriminatory barriers are established and maintained. Exposure to various forms of violence and living in fear prevents half of society from fully realizing their own potential, undermines their wellbeing and dignity, and reduces their contribution to society. Therefore, the prevention and elimination of all forms of GB-VAW is the ultimate responsibility of all society. While institutions have the obligation to prevent, bring perpetrators to justice and to protect and empower survivors, individual citizens have the obligation to recognize and report incidents of violence. However, the global persistence of GB-VAW means that this responsibility is not being met. Thus, explicit and proactive efforts are needed to address GB-VAW as a means to lower discriminatory barriers women and girls face - a central concept of the 2030 Agenda.
Having committed to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, Albania shares this collective responsibility. Over the past decade, Albania has made efforts to strengthen gender equality mechanisms at all branches and levels of government: legislative, executive and independent monitoring bodies, at the national and local levels. The government has ratified key international conventions, enacted a body of relevant laws, and developed instruments and policies to eliminate GBVAW. The country’s priorities to address GB-VAW are outlined in the Strategic Priority 3 of the National Strategy on Gender Equality and Action Plan 2016-2020, which is aligned with international standards, specifically, 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 (aka Istanbul Convention). Albania’s efforts, as well as challenges to end GB-VAW, have been acknowledged in various international reports and observations including those of the CEDAW Committee and European Union (EU) periodic reports.
Albania entered 2018 with very specific challenges related to ending GB-VAW. The Baseline Evaluation Report issued by the Council of Europe's Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO) in November 2017 concluded that despite significant efforts, the legislative framework has gaps, including those associated with tackling all forms of GB-VAW. Although referral mechanisms are already in place in several parts of the country, local governmental units continue to face challenges to improve and strengthen inter-institutional co-operation within this mechanism, which operates to varying degrees of effectiveness. Therefore, in order to ensure an effective response, it is critical to mobilize individuals, government, civil society and people in local communities to act in unison to fulfill national and international commitments to prevent and eliminate GB-VAW.
On this long road to end GB-VAW, the United Nations (UN) has supported Albania for the past 12 years. Impartiality, expertise, results achieved to date and beneficiaries’ feedback, distinguishes the UN as a key player that can facilitate dialogue among stakeholders and lead the joint efforts. In line with current challenges Albania needs to address in ending GB-VAW, and Output 2.5 of the UN’s Programme of Cooperation for Sustainable Development (PoCSD) with the Government of Albania (GoA), the proposed Joint Programme (with the participation of UNDP, UN Women and UNFPA) aims to produce these output level results: (1) a strengthened normative and accountability framework related to GB-VAW; (2) improved institutional practices, services and coordination for survivors of GB-VAW; and (3) to challenge norms pertaining to GB-VAW at the state, community and individual levels. These results aim at bringing institutional and behavioral change in preventing and responding to GB-VAW, thereby contributing to freeing women and girls from all forms of GB-VAW and from the threat of such violence. The end direct beneficiaries of this JP therefore are women and girls, while indirect ones are women, girls, boys and men.
Based on the previous 2012-2018 UN joint programme on gender equality and combating gender-based violence, one of key lessons learned is that partnership building and consultations with governmental authorities at central and local level and CSOs is an essential ingredient of success to ensure country ownership and commitment to achieve and sustain results. Direct engagement and consistent consultations with key stakeholders in the formulation and implementation of two 5 year UN programme in the country (2012-2016 and 2017-2021) have been instrumental in ensuring alignment with national priorities and ownership by governmental authorities. The same approach has been used in the joint work of UN agencies in all thematic areas and specifically in the development of the “Ending Violence against Women” Joint Programme.