Implementing Norms, Changing Minds

The Civil Society Strengthening Platform (CSSP) is part of the three-year programme, ‘Implementing Norms, Changing Minds’, funded by the European Commission and UN Women, which aims at ending gender-based discrimination and violence against women in the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia) and Turkey, with a particular focus on the most disadvantaged groups of women.

* For the European Union, this designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence. For UN Women, all references to Kosovo on this website shall be understood to be in the context of UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999).

The adoption and full implementation of frameworks aligned with international normative standards – including those standards outlined in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Istanbul Convention and the European Union acquis communautaire – are essential for addressing gender-based discrimination and violence against women. The programme will strengthen women’s organizations capacity to hold governments to account, advocate for effective implementation, and monitor prevention of and response to violence against women. Beyond the full implementation of legislative frameworks, the programme also addresses structural causes of gender inequality – and one of its most pervasive expressions, violence against women – through a transformation of gender discriminatory stereotypes, perceptions and beliefs. Lastly, protection, prevention and response to violence against women is closely interlinked with the availability of and access to comprehensive, multi-sectoral services for survivors of violence.

UN Women’s preliminary assessment of gender equality and women's empowerment in Turkey and the Western Balkans, conducted at the end of 2014, revealed that – despite the adoption of legislation to advance gender equality in all these countries – strong patriarchal structures, unequal power relations between women and men, and the lack of political will of governments remain major obstacles to the full implementation of legislation. While Turkey and the Western Balkan countries are at different stages of accession into the European Union, there is an opportunity and a necessity to advance the implementation of norms and standards outlined in European Union laws and policies – also known as the ‘acquis communautaire’.