By signing the Memorandum of Cooperation with the AIRE Centre in July 2022, all judicial training centres in the region joined the initiative for the establishment of the Gender Champions in the Judiciary Network. The initiative was launched in early April at the Judicial Forum on Gender Equality in Budva, the participants of which stressed the need for a coordinated approach to the training of judicial professionals on this issue in the entire Western Balkan region.
“Enhancement of equality is an important goal in countries across Europe. However, several social factors in the Western Balkans render this issue particularly important for the region. Widespread violence against women, existence of gender stereotypes, underrepresentation of women in politics and senior offices, as well as the impact of COVID-19 on already socially vulnerable women are just some of the factors why the improvement of the status of women in the region is our imperative. Women are equal in law, but not in practice. Implementation of the law and measures for achieving gender equality remains a serious challenge, and domestic courts and legal experts across the region play a vital role in responding to this challenge,” said Biljana Braithwaite, the Director of the AIRE Centre’s Western Balkans Programme.
By signing bilateral agreements, the AIRE Centre has established cooperation with judicial training institutions in Montenegro, Serbia, North Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, laying the foundations for the Network’s activities. The implementation of the initiative has been supported by the UK Government.
Ms. Braithwaite welcomed the commitment of the judicial training centres and their efforts for regional cooperation for the rule of law and protection of human rights. She emphasised that the existence of the Network would lay the foundations for cooperation among judicial training centres in other areas as well.
“The network will provide opportunities for strengthening links and collaboration amongst judges and practitioners, targeted training designed to have a practical impact, as well as in-depth research and the sharing of knowledge, skills, experiences and ideas related to gender equality through a structured networking and mentorship model,” Ms. Braithwaite concluded.