Office in Serbia
Ms. Milana Rikanović, Head of the Office
Belgrade, May 12th, 2021
An open letter regarding the announcement of the establishment of Femicide Watch in the Republic of Serbia
Dear Ms. Rikanović,
Women's organizations, members of the Women Against Violence Network, are addressing you with this appeal to stop all activities that you have started in connection with the establishment of a body that would be in charge of monitoring femicide at the state level, the so-called Femicide Watch, until the Coordination Body for Gender Equality conducts a broader consultation process with all interested stakeholders - representatives of relevant ministries and state bodies, independent institutions and women's organizations.
As it could have been concluded from the news published on Twitter on April 14, 2021, the UN Women Office in Serbia, in cooperation with FemPlatz, has already decided on the manner and model in which the future Femicide Watch body will be established. We believe that the UN Women's Office in Serbia in this way neglects the decades-long work of women's organizations in Serbia that provide direct assistance and support to women with the experience of violence, who first, almost two decades ago, began to record cases of femicide and inform the public, starting from the 16 Days of Activism Campaign entitled "Why They Are Not Among Us" in 2003.
A few years later (in 2010), realizing that there are still no official state records on the prevalence and characteristics of this problem, nor measures and institutional response to this problem, the Autonomous Women's Centre developed the first model and established a database for monitoring femicide in cooperation with member organizations of the WAV Network, and has been actively monitoring femicide ever since.
We also remind you that in 2017 the Autonomous Women's Centre, together with the member organizations of the Women Against Violence Network, had sent a letter to the Coordination Body for Gender Equality of the Government of the Republic of Serbia with a proposal to establish a National Femicide Monitoring Body. The then Deputy Prime Minister and President of the Coordination Body for Gender Equality, Ms. Zorana Mihajlović, expressed her support and announced that she would advocate for its establishment.
In addition to those already listed, numerous other activities against femicide have been implemented, among which we are especially proud of, is the proclamation of May 18th as the National Day of Remembrance, which received wide social support from family members of murdered women and citizens.
Despite the above mentioned activities, extensive knowledge and many years of experience in this field, UN Women Office in Serbia still does not recognize the work and commitment of women's organizations, reaffirming all the statements of the letter sent by women's organizations from the Western Balkans to UN agencies. We remind you that the letter pointed put that women's organizations have not been consulted appropriately in the initial planning and design of UN agencies’ programs, which sometimes contributed to unnecessary programs or overlap in programming and exclusion of women's organizations from the decision-making process at the state level, while the activities have been coordinated by UN agencies, and thus created problems in the distribution, allocation and access to donor funding for women 's organizations.
It was also noted that on several occasions UN agencies have failed to publicly acknowledge the contribution and achievements of women's organizations in the field of prevention of violence against women, as well as to take over the merits of women's organizations, which significantly undermines the credibility and image of women's organizations in the eyes of citizens and institutions.
With all this in mind, once again we urge you to stop all activities that started with the exclusion of all other stakeholders, so that a participatory and inclusive consultation process can be conducted to decide on the widely accepted model for establishing a National Femicide Monitoring Body - Femicide Watch, which model will suit the context in the Republic of Serbia.
Sincerely, the signatories of 17 women's organizations members of the Women Against Violence Network:
- Autonomous Women's Center, Belgrade
- Association of Women for Peace, Leskovac
- Women's Center Užice, Užice
- Alternative Center for Girls, Kruševac
- Impuls, Tutin
- Center for Women's Rights in Vršac
- SOS Women's Center, Novi Sad
- Girls' Center, Niš
- Victimology Society of Serbia, Belgrade
- Women's Association Peščanik, Kruševac
- Oasis of Security, Kragujevac
- Roma Center for Women and Children Daje, Belgrade
- SOS hotline for women and children victims of violence, Vlasotince
- Femina Association, Smederevska Palanka
- Association of Roma Women Nada, Aleksinac
- Prijepolje Women's Forum, Prijepolje
- DamaD Cultural Center, Novi Pazar
Updated 9 June 2021
 Campaign: Why are not among us?, November-December 2003, Autonomous Women's Center. Details: https://www.womenngo.org.rs/en/policy-activities/campaigns/16-days-of-activism-against-violence-against-women/547-campaign-2003-why-they-are-not-among-us (accessed 4.5.2021.)
 The text of the proposal is available on the web page of the Women Against Violence Network, via the link: https://www.zeneprotivnasilja.net/vesti/769-predlog-za-uspostavljanje-nadzornog-tela-za-pracenje-femicida (accessed May 4, 2021)
 Mihajlović: Formirati telo za praćenje femicida, Danas, May 18, 2018. Available at: https://www.danas.rs/drustvo/mihajlovic-formirati-telo-za-pracenje-femicida/ (accessed May 4, 2021)
 230 women’s NGO’s from the area of the Western Balkans sent a letter to UN agencies, Oct. 30, 2020. Available at: https://www.womenngo.org.rs/en/news/1618-230-women-s-ngos-from-the-western-balkans-sent-a-letter-to-un-agencies (accessed May 4, 2021)