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Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on specialist services for victims and survivors of violence in the Western Balkans and Turkey

October 2020

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has deeply impacted women and girls and the efforts to end violence against women. It had profound effects on the operations of civil society organizations (CSOs) delivering specialist services, as well as women’s access to those services.

Conducted in the Western Balkans (AlbaniaBosnia and  HerzegovinaKosovoMontenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia) and Turkey, this rapid assessment serves as a snapshot of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on a selected group of CSOs and their beneficiaries and provides concrete recommendations to address the gaps exposed by the pandemic. In conclusion, the pandemic unveiled more clearly weak spots in the system for prevention and response which can be further strengthened through targeted support. It has showcased particular needs of women’s organizations in offering specialist services and the opportunities for CSOs to start innovating in delivery of these services to fit the new reality. These innovations should be supported in order to develop and ensure more effective and better-quality services.

This rapid assessment provides evidence and recommendations for programming to be able to better support CSOs and governments during and after the pandemic. This publication was prepared by UN Women Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia, within the Regional Programme on Ending Violence against Women in the Western Balkans and Turkey “Implementing Norms, Changing Minds,” funded by the European Union.