Effective justice systems based on human rights standards, the rule of law and democratic values are key to enabling women to become equal partners in decision-making and development and to be informed participants in their societies. The present action aims at strengthening  equal access to justice for women and contributing towards a gender-responsive justice chain. 
About the project

The beneficiaries in the Western Balkans have made specific commitments to improve women’s access to justice and combat violence against women and domestic violence (VAW/DV). This includes the application of the standards of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combatting violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention), with a legal obligation to ensure that all individuals, including women and girls in their jurisdiction have effective, available and efficient access to justice, while an efficient system of remedies is in place for the victims of VAW/DV.

The action aims to:

  • strengthen access to justice for women, especially women victims of violence in line with the standards of the Council of Europe Istanbul Convention,
  • contribute to the development of a gender sensitive justice system in the Western Balkans Beneficiaries,
  • address gender inequalities in the judicial systems in the Western Balkans society. 

The action works through:

  • Introduction and application of measures and new competences for domestic authorities and justice sector professionals to enhance the implementation of standards on access to justice of the Istanbul Convention.
  • Increase in legal literacy on human rights and ways of seeking redress within the justice system for women, and in particular victims of violence and women from disadvantaged communities. 

The action is implemented by the Capacity Building and Co-operation Projects Unit at the Council of Europe’s Gender Equality Division

 Anca SANDESCU, Project Manager

 Stella CHIGNAC, Project Assitant


 The action runs from January 2023 to December 2026.

 The budget of the action is 1 million EUR  (85% funded by the European Union, 15% by the Council of Europe).

  More information: Horizontal Facility website and e-mail address

Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Türkiye” is a joint initiative of the European Union and the Council of Europe that enables the Western Balkans Beneficiaries and Türkiye to meet their reform agendas in the fields of human rights, rule of law and democracy and to comply with the European standards, which is also a priority for the EU enlargement process.

Publications and translations

Publications developed under previous projects

 Study on the impact of COVID-19 on Women's access to justice ENG

 Checklist for Gender Mainstreaming Law Schools' Curricula ENG

 Guide for developing a mentoring programme on Women's Access to Justice for legal professionals ENG / ALB / BIH / MKD / MNE / SRB

 Guidance Note - Framework for measuring access to justice including specific challenges facing women - UN Women - Council of Europe  (2016) ENG / ALB / BIH / MKD / MNE / SRB

 Women's access to justice: a Guide for Legal Practitioners ENG / FR 

 Training Manual for Judges and Prosecutors on Ensuring Women’s Access to Justice consists of a general part, and is accompanied by four country chapters available in English and the respective language of each country ENG 

 Feasibility Study on Equal Access of Women to Justice ENG

 Handbook for Legal Aid Lawyers on Women’s Access to Justice in Türkiye ENG 

 Handbook on Strategic Litigation in the Area of Women’s Rights for Legal Practitioners in Türkiye ENG 



 Feedback report on gender mainstreaming in the Swedish Courts ENG


 Video - HELP course on access to justice for women


* All reference to Kosovo, whether to the territory, institutions or population, shall be understood in full compliance with United Nations Security Council resolution 1244 and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo.