Belgrade 21.6.2021. – Eight civil society organizations (CSO) from different parts of Serbia received funds to continue providing free and anonymous support via SOS helplines to women survivors of domestic and partner-relationship violence. Organizations were selected based on an open call, implemented with the support of the Government of Sweden, by the Coordination Body for Gender Equality of the Government of the Republic of Serbia and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Serbia.
Grant agreements to CSOs were awarded by Zorana Mihajlović, Deputy Prime Minister and President of the Coordination Body for Gender Equality, Ola Andersson, Head of Development Cooperation at the Embassy of Sweden and Francine Pickup, Resident Representative of UNDP in Serbia.
„We have good laws, but we must all participate in their implementation. It is also important to, together with CSOs, include other departments of the Government in combating violence against women and girls, so that children learn from an early age that violence is unacceptable, so that this topic is discussed in kindergarten, and that we send a message that one is not born violent or unequal, but becomes this. Only this way can our society go forward and ensure a better future for all girls and boys”, stated Zorana Mihajlović, President of the Coordination Body for Gender Equality.
“Elimination of violence against women is in accordance with the basic principles of our foreign policy. This programme is good as it enables local, central and institutional support to organizations working on ending violence”, Ola Andersson, Head of Development Cooperation at the Embassy of Sweden in Serbia pointed out.
Francine Pickup, Resident Representative of UNDP in Serbia highlighted that „the organizations receiving grants are helping women throughout Serbia, and many of them provide support to survivors of violence from vulnerable groups, ensuring that no one is left behind. CSOs offering helplines are often the first point of contact, the first who learn of survivors’ fears and circumstances that prevent them from reporting and leaving the abusive relationships. This is why they are a valuable partner of institutions when planning policies and interventions, from national to the local level and should have continuous and sustainable funding.”
While the number of cases of domestic violence reported to institutions is increasing each year, there is still many of those that need additional support and empowerment to take this step. Such support, as well as informing on protection and help in situations of violence, is provided anonymously and free of charge, by CSO-operated SOS helplines.
SOS helplines are especially important during long periods of crises, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, when, due to uncertainty, limited contacts with others and limited access to institutions, there is an increased risk of escalation of domestic and partner relationship violence.
Based on the open call, funds were provided to the following organizations:
1) OUT OF CIRCLE – VOJVODINA, Organization for support to women with disabilities – Novi Sad;
2) Zrenjanin Education Centre;
3) Women’ Center of Užice;
4) Association Fenomena – Kraljevo;
5) Oasis of Safety – Kragujevac;
6) „Osvit“ Association of Roma Women – Niš:
7) OUT OF CIRCLE – Belgrade, Organization for the protection of rights and support to women with disabilities;
8) Roma Association of the Municipality of Novi Bečej
The selected organizations will receive a total of 40.000 USD, enabling them to establish an SOS helpline, expand the working hours of their existing helpline, as well as introduce new services, such as online support. Other activities include awareness raising about the problem of violence against women and strengthening cooperation with local institutions responsible for solution of cases of violence – social welfare centres, police and prosecutors’ offices. Organizations will continue to provide support to all women survivors of violence, including women from vulnerable groups, Roma women, women with disabilities and women from rural areas.
Financial support to CSOs’ work was ensured within the Project “Integrated Response to Violence Against Women and Girls in Serbia III”, which is, in partnership with the Government of the Republic of Serbia and Coordination Body for Gender Equality, jointly implemented by UNDP, UNICEF, UN Women and UNFPA, with the support of the Government of Sweden. This initiative is focused on the development of a social and institutional environment that contributes to zero tolerance and eradication of violence against women and girls in Serbia.