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.
Achievements UNDP JP EVAWIA 2019-2020
1: Government and service providers are accountable to women for prevention, protection and response
• UNDP in close partnership with Ministry of Health and Social Protection (MoHSP) developed two standardized protocols for Coordinated Referral Mechanisms (CRMs) members on managing domestic violence cases in normal situation and in COVID-19 situation;
• UNDP contributed to the development and finalization of the Joint Ministerial Order of the MoJ and HCoJ on the establishment of a unified Domestic Violence (DV) database generated by courts. This by-law will positively strengthen multi-sectorial cooperation of relevant public and non-public authorities in better following up DV cases. Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and High Council of Justice (HCoJ) recently adopted the by-law pursuant to the 2018 DV law amendments on the unified DV cases judiciary data system.
• UNDP provided support to the Ministry of Defense to develop a policy and procedures against harassment and sexual harassment to protect women and men among MoD personnel including armed forces drafted;
• UNDP together with UN Women provided support to INSTAT in preparing and finalizing the third National Violence Against Women prevalence survey report, with updated and baseline data on five different types of violence. Following the first and second national surveys (2007, 2013) which focussed only on domestic violence, the 2018 Survey collects for the first time, data on the nature and prevalence of other forms of violence: dating violence, non-partner violence, sexual harassment, stalking and brings forth findings on social norms related to violence against women. The Survey was conducted across 12 prefectures in Albania with a sample of3,443 households where women aged 18-74 were interviewed 42.4% of surveyed women had a lower secondary education (8-9 years), 27.8% had a upper secondary education, and 19.7% had a university education; only 7.7% of women had only a primary education or less.
• UNDP in close partnership with Ministry of Health and Social Protection (MoHSP) provided support to the Ministry of Health and Social Protection in developing Minimum Standards of Social Care Services for GBV&DV Survivors in Public and Non-Public (Short Term) Residential Emergency Centres approved on November 2019.
• Continuous work and support is provided to the MoHSP to improve functionality and systematic use of REVALB through: i) updating the system; ii) enhancing the professional capacities of employees in municipalities to systematically use the system; iii) improving the reporting and oversighting capacities of Gender Equality sector staff at MoHSP to generate periodic quality reports;
2: Women survivors safely access adequate and appropriate support services (economic, medical, psycho-social, security and shelter)
• MoHSP and LGUs are supported by UNDP to scale-up establishment of 18 new CRMs1 and consolidation of existing ones across the country. 168 domestic violence (DV) cases are provided with multiple services from 18 CRMs during COVID-19 situation. 154 members of CRMs and social
service providers benefited from the online trainings on the newly developed protocols for the well-management of DV cases by all CRMs in normal situations and during COVID-19.
• Capacities of law enforcement agencies’ staff (judges and prosecutors) and Local Domestic Violence Coordinators (DVLCs) are strengthened in adequately implementing VAW related laws and policies. MoHSP, with UNDP support, continued to strengthen partnership and cooperation with Albanian School of Public Administration (ASPA) and School of Magistrates (SoM) to ensure sustainability of the capacity building interventions, which contributed respectively in i) enhancing the capacities of 67 judges, prosecutors and judiciary chancelleries on the international standards and national legal developments on VAW and the role of the judiciary bodies for an adequate law implementation, their role in CRMs and the effective use of GBV&DV statistics to inform decision making and law implementation processes and ii) strengthening the capacities of 43 DVLCs through an ASPA certified training module on DV latest legal improvements, the role of and coordination among all relevant local law enforcement agencies. A keen focus on these capacity building activities was given to provision of support services to DV victims in COVID-19 situation and the newly protocols developed for such a purpose.
• Under MoHSP leadership and UNDP support is finalized the second analysis of the functioning of the coordinated referral mechanism of cases of domestic violence at the local level in Albania.
• UNDP in cooperation with MoHSP, Ministry of Interior, State Police improved capacities of staff in law enforcement agencies of to implement DV law amendments: 21 trainers, 329 police officers, 43 DV local coordinators benefited and now have increased capacities in law implementation and their responsibilities.
• UNDP supported Ministry of Health and Social Protection to establish the first ever one stop multisectoral emergency center “LILIUM” for sexual violence victims. UNDP provided operational support through a case manager and has contributed to i) management, support and referral services tailored to the needs of 62 women, girls, boys and men, victims of sexual violence. During COVID -19 pandemic: i) an internal rules and regulations developed and adopted for management of sexual cases in COVID-19 situation by the multidisciplinary staff; c) online psychosocial support provided to cases who were victims of sexual abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic situation; d) a user-friendly information on sexual violence, reporting and management of sexual violence cases was developed and widely disseminated through social media and official web pages of the municipalities across the country; e) a manual on sexual violence prepared and provided through social medial channels to reach out to as many multi-disciplinary professionals mandated for managing sexual violence cases and community members’.
3: Women, girls, men and boys and civil society organizations working on Gender based-Violence Against Women (GB-VAW) organize collectively to engage in prevention that builds the foundation for social change in eliminating GB-VAW.
- UNDP prepared as part of the 16 days of activism against GBV a video, putting the message spotlight on the violence affecting one in two women in their daily lives across the country through real life stories;
- 153 DV public and non-public service providers and 187 CRM members in 15 municipalities informed and committed to build violence free communities;
- CRMs at local level in partnership with MoHSP and UNDP support used widely the social media for community outreach purposes to provide victims of gender based and domestic violence with safety tips, emergency national and local help lines. Art and online competitions launched by municipalities aimed at challenging power roles in the family, gender stereotypes, childcare models, good parenting and support for mothers and women in the family especially in time of self-isolation. Under the motto “You are not alone”, safety tips for DV survivors tailored for COVID-19 situation and relevant information for sexual violence victims were developed and shared with 61 Local DV Coordinators (LDVCs).
- Municipalities of Kavaja, Malesi e Madhe, Maliq, Patos, Ura Vajgurore, Kucova, Dropull launched online competitions "Together for healthy and non-violent families, even in emergency situations" to engage men, boys, women and girls and increase their awareness on GBV and promoting healthy relationship through art. Over 125 young girls and boys participated their artistic works online sharing their messages of the need to fight gender-based violence.
- UNDP: United Nations Development Programme
- UNFPA: United Nations Population Fund
- UN Women: United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women
- UNICEF: United Nations Children’s Fund
- ALB MoHSP: Albania Ministry of Health and Social Protection
- SIDA: Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency