BRIDGE - Stepping Forward in the Protection of Women and Girls in Kosovo and Serbia



We are pleased to announce the launching of the project BRIDGE - Stepping Forward in the Protection of Women and Girls in Kosovo* and Serbia. The notion of BRIDGE came as a response to needing more meaningful cooperation instead of complex political processes that hinder adequate acknowledgments and collaboration between relevant stakeholders and their information exchange. Specifically, BRIDGE is an idea that arose from the strong partnership of our two CSOs, Atina from Belgrade and the Centre for Protection of Victims and Prevention of Trafficking in Human Beings (PVPT) from Prishtina and is supported by the European Commission.
Due to the political nature of the process of normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo, which impacts the quality of our lives in different spheres (political, economic, social, cultural, etc.), the best interests of us citizens are often taken for granted. But life is happening and cannot wait. That is why our two CSOs, PVPT from Kosovo and Atina from Serbia, with a long-lasting history of protecting victims of human trafficking, decided to establish spaces and connections where citizens can map problems and work together on their resolution. That’s why BRIDGE was made - to create solutions and ideas in the area where that cooperation is very much needed – combating the trafficking of human beings and related gender-based violence and protecting victims. 
For all these reasons, victims cannot resolve critical issues important for their recovery and reintegration - from reporting what happened to them and determining legal status to accessing available services. PVPT and Atina witnessed the necessity of establishing cooperation mechanisms to respond to victims' needs adequately.
During the BRIDGE project, from 2023 until 2026, relevant stakeholders mandated to combat these severe human rights violations will be involved to enable better monitoring of the processes in this area, detection and identification of potential victims, referrals, and information exchange.  
BRIDGE will implement a comprehensive set of activities and direct cooperation between CSOs. Activities are based on three main pillars:
1) We will analyze the current legislation and practices combating the trafficking in human beings and related gender-based violence in Serbia and Kosovo. This research will design further steps and recommendations for referral mechanisms between Kosovo and Serbia. 
2) We will conduct activities to raise the capacities of community-based CSOs for cooperation and establish intercultural collaboration between young people around these subjects. 
3) We will provide qualitative services to the victims in Kosovo and Serbia.
We will work on prevention activities by building capacity around the challenges of trafficking in human beings and related gender-based violence and encourage young people to organize six joint prevention events, encouraging intercultural dialogue and assembling communities to increase the knowledge to recognize potential risks and learn how to respond appropriately. 
To do so, the action proposes documenting evidence through comparative analyses of legislations and practice and mapping gaps that need to be improved. The cooperation would be instigated through two-day training sessions and study visits between stakeholders in Kosovo and Serbia, ensuring practical insight into their operations. This process will refine the needs and recommendations to enhance the response to trafficking in human beings and related gender-based violence and establish Cross-Border Network as a sustainable structure to support future actions in this area. 
As the final output, recommendations and newly established referral mechanisms will help us create improved solutions and responses. These mechanisms will further advocate necessary changes to relevant stakeholders through conferences in Kosovo and Serbia.
Including local CSOs and institutions’ representatives will result in the development of tailor-made training modules and outreach methodology, which will serve as a basis for regional synergy and ownership of the development process of complementary mechanisms.
Through this project, both of our CSOs, PVPT and Atina, are supported to provide qualitative services to the victims, such as safe accommodation; primary medical care, referral to medical specialists, health education sessions; psychosocial support, psychological and legal counseling, psychotherapy, educative and professional, vocational training; empowerment sessions; family mediation for beneficiaries’ family members; social and economic reintegration, and other necessary processes essential for the recovery of victims.  
We invite you to join our efforts in creating a better environment and promising solutions for the recovery of victims of human trafficking in Kosovo and Serbia. 
Funded by the European Commission. The article has been created within the project BRIDGE - Stepping Forward in the Protection of Women and Girls in Kosovo* and Serbia.
Views and opinions expressed are however those of the authors only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Commission nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.
* All references to Kosovo, whether 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.