Celebrating the Civil Society Strengthening Platform

From 2017-2022, the Civil Society Strengthening Platform[1] (CSSP) aimed at ending gender-based discrimination and violence against women in the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*[2], North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia) and Türkiye by strengthening women’s voices and agency, including that of women’s organisations working with and representing women from disadvantaged marginalised groups, at a regional level.

The project established partnership among women’s NGOs to increase capacity building, joint funding & sustainability, visibility & advocacy, access to more/different resources, organisational support, and networking. Partner organisations from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Türkiye worked together with WAVE to strengthen women’s organisation networks within their countries as well as the entire Western Balkans and regions of Türkiye to support women’s civic engagement in CEDAW and Istanbul Convention monitoring and reporting.

CSSP partner organisations were:

  • Albania: Albanian Women Empowerment Network, Gender Alliance for Development Centre Woman to Woman, Woman to Woman (2017 – 2021)
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina: Foundation United Banja Luka
  • Kosovo*: Women‘s Wellness Centre
  • Montenegro: SOS Hotline for Women and Children Victims of Violence Niksic
  • North Macedonia: National Network to end Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, Voice against Violence
  • Serbia: Association Fenomena
  • Türkiye: The Foundation for Women‘s Solidarity (2017 -2021), Mor Çatı Women’s Shelter Foundation (2021 – 2022)

Five years of achievements of the Civil Society Strengthening Platform

In the last five years, women’s NGOs in their role at a national and regional level explored and addressed commonalities and common challenges faced in the prevention of and response to violence against women, especially sexual violence, to better support survivors. As a result, strengthening the knowledge and capacities of women’s NGOs allowed for more effective and joint advocacy for the development and implementation of laws and policies in line with CEDAW and the Istanbul Convention as well as services to address the needs of survivors of sexual violence. Furthermore, the partners facilitated cooperation between women’s civil society organisations and healthcare providers & other key referral stakeholders, which also allowed them to fortify the role of women’s NGOs as active agents of change and support for the state as well as stakeholders in preventing and tackling violence against women.

Although the project has officially ended, all resources are still available on the CSSP website along with numerous articles from the partners about their organisation’s efforts and successes during the last five years. We are certain that all CSSP partners including other women’s NGOs who were supported within this project will carry on the fruitful results of this collaboration to tackle and prevent as well as ultimately put an end to violence against women in the Western Balkans and Türkiye. Lastly, we want to express our deepest gratitude and thanks to UN Women for supporting the project under the EU Programme ‘Ending violence against women: Implementing norms, changing minds’ and their commitment throughout.

[1] Established under the UN Women/EU Programme ‘Ending violence against women: Implementing norms, changing minds’

[2] * 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 shall be understood to be in the context of UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999).