This month, KWN brings the profile of a women’s rights activist, Executive Director of the Kosovar Gender Studies Centre (KGSC), Luljeta Demolli.
Since 2004, Demolli has been involved as a researcher, manager and then Director of KGSC - a journey and activism which, according to her was built undoubtedly by feminist ethics and education.
In this conversation with KWN, Demolli talks about her work as an activist, engagement in KGSC, as well as the important cooperation between KGSC and KWN to strengthen the feminist movement in Kosovo –in more than a single direction.
KGSC, as an organization whose mission is gender mainstreaming in all analyses, programs and policies of all sectors of Kosovo society, has been vocal since its establishment at the central and local level, in the feminist contextualized knowledge production, documenting the history of women’s political activism, and promoting feminist activism among the younger generations.
“The missions of organizations such as KGSC, besides being vital to the development of a social dialogue between women and activists, are also to change the political status quo which goes to the detriment of women and other underprivileged groups,” said Demolli at the beginning of the interview with KWN.
KGSC, also a member organization of KWN, has played a vital role in promoting women’s rights and gender equality, and has been and remains a defender of the women’s movement, despite challenges which have been expected considering the prevailing patriarchal culture and institutions.
“We have created an address which, in addition to welcoming activists, also encourages and promotes feminist thinking, solidarity and political commitment to change the socio-economic and political situation of women.”
Whereas, while talking on a personal level as an activist, Demolli considers that this experience, besides challenging her, has also shaped her even more as a feminist.
KGSC and KWN: Together for Women’s Rights
In this part, Demolli gives special importance to the cooperation and advocacy that were undertaken over the years together with KWN.
She mentions some of them.
“As a member of KWN for many years, we have joined in some very important initiatives for the country. One of them I would like to share in this article is advocating for parental leave 50/50 within the Labour Law. This activity has lasted for years and we still continue to advocate together. We collaborated on many other gender equality issues, which has strengthened our role in advancing women’s rights and the recognition of these issues by local and national authorities.”
She recalls that KGSC and KWN stand as key actors in combating discrimination against women and girls in the country.
This cooperation so far, she trusts, is giving signals that both organizations should focus cooperation on strategies to respond more to taboo topics that affect women’s rights. This no matter how challenging these topics will be in Kosovo.
Among these topics are; sexual harassment, gender selective abortion, sexual assault - with particular emphasis on 13-15-year-old girls.
According to Demolli, another dimension that should be more and more internalized within the feminist causes, both at the level of organizations and the movement, is LGBTI + persons
As a last point, as part of the “Advancing Women’s Rights at the Workplace” initiative, KWN supported KGSC to implement the “Preventing Any Form of Discrimination at the Workplace” initiative. Finally
She claims that this initiative, besides enabling them to deepen research on the position of women in the economy, has also provided them with possibility to continue and advance advocacy with institutions.
“These interventions, among others, have contributed to cooperating with other institutions and organizations that deal with similar issues and to coordinate activities and work in order to advance the situation in the field for women in the labour market.”
Decades of Activism have shown us that Women’s Unity is a Value Challenging the Surrounding Reality
Recalling the accomplishments made by women’s rights organizations, Demolli emphasizes those issues that remain the fundamental difficulties for women in Kosovo.
“We as KGSC bring two key challenges, the slow pace of law implementation and the significant presence of violence against women and sexual harassment,” she added.
In conclusion to this article, Demolli says that two decades of activism and work have shown that unity among women is valuable against the reality that surrounds us.
“We should not deal with who is “more “or “less “of a feminist. We have to ask if our goals are useful to our feminist cause.” she says.
*This article follows a series of KWN publications on the work and contribution of human rights activists in Kosovo.