Korea-Albania exchange mechanisms to support survivors of gender-based violence

Apr 26, 2018

As part of the UNDP Seoul Policy Centre (USPC)’s Development Solutions Partnership (DSP) on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in Albania, a study visit was organized from 24 April to 26 April 2018 in Seoul, Republic of Korea.  Albanian delegation, headed by Ms. Ardiana Jaku, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Health and Social Protection (MoHSP), included officials from MoHSP, municipalities of Tirana, Durres, and Korca, and Albanian State Police. This mission focused on sharing experiences and lessons learnt from Korea’s establishment and operation of a one-stop service mechanism for GBV survivors, “Sunflower Center”. Sunflower Centers which are located in hospitals provide medical, counseling, investigation, and legal support for GBV victims at a single location.

Albania has adopted international conventions on human rights, in particular, 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 (“Istanbul Convention”). Albania has integrated these conventions to its national roadmap to achieve gender equality and address GBV. In practice, 37 of 61 municipalities in Albania are currently operating Coordinated Community Response (CCR) system that aims to provide relevant services for the victims of domestic violence through coordination between local governments and community-based organizations.

The three-day study mission began with a welcome session by Mr. Yun, Hyo Sik, Assistant Minister of Planning and Coordination Office at Ministry of Gender Equality and Family (MOGEF) of Korea. In Korea, MOGEF operates and manages 38 Sunflower Centers (as of May 2018) established nationwide. MOGEF provides financial resources and operational guidelines to these Centers. The welcome session was followed by a technical meeting with officials of Women’s & Youth Rights Promotion Bureau of MOGEF. The meeting highlighted the importance of a strong political commitment of a government to address GBV and social consensus on the issue to mobilize necessary resources and take coordinated action at the national level. The meeting also provided a ground for technical discussions on aspects relating to the operation, management, budgeting, and human resources of one-stop service centers. Following the session at MOGEF, the Albanian delegation visited Seoul Sunflower Center located within Seoul National University Hospital. The meeting with practitioners at the Sunflower Center underlined the importance of specialized services based on the needs of the victims and a coordinated approach within the Center’s multidisciplinary team, consisted of counseling and medical professionals and the police.

The second day of the visit consisted of meetings with key civil society organizations in Korea, namely Korea Women’s Hotline (KWHL) and Korea Sexual Violence Relief Center (KSVRC), that played significant roles in raising public awareness on GBV issues and bringing legislative reforms in Korea. The Albanian delegation first visited KWHL which has been supporting GBV victims and promoting gender equality in Korea since 1983. KWHL operates counseling centers and shelters, as well as active advocacy events. The delegation discussed with KWHL effective strategies to reach out to victims to inform of the support available and raise public awareness on GBV by working with various community actors, such as pharmacies, hospitals, and hair salons. Meeting with KSVRC highlighted the importance of a shift in social conception of GBV issues and coordination among relevant stakeholders to better support the victims.

The delegation also visited Women’s Human Rights Institute of Korea (WHRIK), a government-funded institute that coordinates with MOGEF to support the operation and enhance the capacity of Sunflower Centers nationwide. In particular, Korea Support Center for Women and Children Victims of Violence of WHRIK develops and conducts training programs for professionals working at the Sunflower Centers.

On the last day of the study mission, the Albanian delegation met partners from Women & Family Policy Bureau of Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) and Seoul Foundation of Women and Family. SMG provides a matching fund for Sunflower Centers in Seoul and implements municipal-level measures to promote further gender equality. Meeting with the officials from SMG emphasized the role of municipalities in making the city safe for women and all citizens — creating an enabling environment to prevent GBV and implement national GBV policies at the local level. Lastly, the delegation visited Seoul Foundation of Women and Family, a foundation that conducts policy research to raise the effectiveness of SMG’s policies on GBV issues. The foundation also coordinates with various CSOs to better address GBV issues and to promote gender equality.

Throughout the sessions, key messages underscored unanimously by all partners were as follows: a victim-oriented approach, that is asking what the victim really needs and what is best for victims, should be at the center when establishing a one-stop service center; and concerted actions by the government, municipalities, CSOs, and multiple sectors of the society is crucial to effectively respond to GBV. Overall, the discussions with policy makers, experts, and practitioners of Korea provided the Albanian delegation with a useful basis for policy discussions on a potential pilot one-stop center in Albania. The interactive knowledge sharing also contributed in identifying strategies to facilitate a national discourse on sexual violence and strengthen the CCR support mechanism already in place in Albania.

USPC’s DSP on GBV was launched in September 2017 to share Korea’s experiences for systematic knowledge and facilitate dynamic exchange of lessons learnt as suitable to the needs and contexts of Albania. Prior to the study visit, a series of webinars were held to initiate the knowledge sharing of the two countries. The partnership between the two countries will continue through various communication channels and facilitation of USPC and UNDP Albania.




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