Strengthening working women capacities and networking in the Western Balkans; empowerment of women Western Balkans Women’s Conference /Skopje, 29 October 2012

The ISCOS/CISL in collaboration with ITUC/PERC organized the Western Balkans Women’s Conference within the European Commission project on empowerment of women’s structures and networking in the Western Balkans.

The conference made an evaluation of the activities carried on this year following the objectives established by the project: strengthening the national level trade union women’s committees and networks and their capacity to produce equality plans on national level; to influence state institutions, governments policies and trade union policies; developing expertise and professional analytic skills to identify strategies and develop initiatives; producing materials to raise awareness among wider audience about the need for a more balanced representation of decision making positions; networking and campaigning on identified priority issues for the region ( promoting equal treatment; fighting discrimination) and increase understanding on EU affairs and the accession process.

This year five workshops took place in Zlatibor/Serbia, Pristina/Kosovo, Podgorica/Montenegro, Sarajevo/BIH and Ohrid/Macedonia involving around 60 women from national trade union centres. The workshop consisted of three main modules: EU integration, strategic planning and campaigning. As a result of the workshops 60 women have been trained on how to work on the women’s committee program and action plans, how to organize campaigns and how to better influence the state institutions. All women committees involved in the project have developed their annual program and action plans. The programs and action plans have been presented during the conference giving the possibility to analyse the common priorities and to decide on the regional program and cooperation.

The main priorities on the regional level were decided as follows: fighting against increasing inequalities in the fields of employment, incomes and wealth distribution, access to social protection, health and safety policies at the workplace and informal/shadow economy in the region; building women’s power though organizing especially young women and men; promoting women in leadership positions in trade unions; strengthening the Balkan women’s network . A proposal in this sense will be made for the work program of the PERC Women’s Committee.

Concerning the consolidation of the Women’s Network in the Balkans the participants expressed the need for organizing an annual meeting of the network members to exchange the best practices and evaluate the implementation of national and regional action plan as forum of debate and decision of further action in the region.

The participants in the Western Balkans Conference decided on a regional campaign to be developed by each partner organisation with the slogan: “Trade Unions say NO to violence against women”. This campaign is in line with the common concern in the region on increasing violence , harassment and mobbing against women at the workplace and with the ITUC call for action against elimination of all forms of violence against women.