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Many people filled the conference room at the EU Information Center on 19 May 2017 to learn about the new initiative between UN Women and the EU to end violence against women. Faces from the UN, to civil society organizations, to government Ministries, to the media were all present for the unveiling.

The regional cooperation is titled “Ending Violence against Women in the Western Balkan countries and Turkey: Implementing Norms, Changing Minds,” and specifically focuses on strengthening women’s organizations and maintaining international standards.

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“68% of Kosovar women have experienced” domestic violence in their lifetime, said Flora Macula, Head of Office at UN Women Kosovo. Her opening remarks highlighted the severe threat violence against women has on the human rights of women in Kosovo, making it an essential issue to confront. The Programme’s inception began in 2014, as outlined by Libor Chlad, Deputy Head of Cooperation at the EU Office, and has become a fruitful partnership between UN Women and the EU. Increasing capacity within civil society organizations is a specific focus of this initiative, aligning with national and international standards.

Mr. Andrew Russell, UN Development Coordinator, began the keynote addresses by passionately saying, “I’m not going to be diplomatic. Why aren’t we more furious?” He drew attention to these high statistics, saying it affects everyone.

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His sentiments were echoed by the other keynote speeches. He was joined onstage by Munir Basha, Deputy Minister of Justice and Domestic Violence National Coordinator, Edi Gusia, Chief Executive Agency for Gender Equality, Sakibe Doli Executive Director Safe House Gjakova, and Ružica Simić, Executive Director Women’s Rights.

Each of the keynote addresses was impassioned and engaging. Calls for zero tolerance for domestic violence, holding perpetrators accountable, and inter-agency coordination were among the many necessary steps outlined by Munir Basha. Edi Gusia spoke of the importance of including all ethnic minorities in support and protections against violence. Establishing a budget for shelters and psycho-social support will aid in transitioning women and men from victims to survivors, asserted Sakibe Doli. Lastly, Ružica Simić called for a focus on punishing perpetrators and working with them for rehabilitation.

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The powerful keynote addresses showed the passionate men and women working in this field. With the new Programme, support to the civil society organizations will increase and provide a reinforced effort to end violence against women.

The afternoon finished with a presentation of the Programme by Linda Sanaja, Tehcnical Project Analyst at UN Women Kosovo. Afterwards, audience members were invited to engage in a Q&A, where questions of continued collaboration were addressed.

Participants left with a better understanding of the regional cooperation and steps being taken in the next three years. At the end of the event, there was an air of hopefulness.

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