Kosovo to Establish Gender Equality Index

The Agency for Gender Equality (AGE) in the Office of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo in close cooperation with the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) organized a workshop on the Gender Equality Index on 4-5 June in Prishtina. Developed by EIGE, the Gender Equality Index aims to introduce gender mainstreaming into public policies.
     The index was created to measure progress by member states and as a whole within the European Union (EU). It examines the level of equality among women and men in six main areas: work, money, knowledge, time, power, health and two “satellite domains”: intersecting inequalities and violence. The index is used in 27 EU member states to examine progress and regress towards gender equality in these areas every two years. The next report will be released in the end of June 2015.
     The EU considers gender equality important. The Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union states, “In all its activities the Union shall aim to eliminate inequalities and promote equality between men and women” (Art. 8). This should be translated into both EU assistance (including to Kosovo) and EU policies. The EU also has several directives relating to gender equality, particularly in the area of labour market participation, equal access to social security, healthcare, self-employment, rights of pregnant workers and rights to parental leave.
     Progress towards promoting equality among women and men is monitored in EU accession countries. Annual country progress reports in particular assess the extent to which counties make progress in aligning with the EU Acquis. Therefore, furthering gender equality is an important part of Kosovo’s EU integration process. Indeed Kosovo’s last progress report noted the need for more coherent human rights legislation, and the need for human rights to be higher on the governmental agenda.
     During his opening remarks, Armend Ibrahimi, political advisor to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo, stated that Prime Minister Isa Mustafa confirms his commitment and support for this initiative. He emphasized the importance of furthering gender equality in Kosovo, including equality of women and men before the law, ensuring anti-discrimination and, where necessary, taking affirmative measures towards increasing gender equality, as foreseen by the Law on Gender Equality.
     “Gender equality is a crucial element of smart economic policy,” added Thomas Gnocchi Head of the Political, Economics and EU Integration Section of the EU Office in Kosovo. He cited evidence from other countries: where there is greater gender equality, there also tends to be improved levels of development.
     Thus, the Gender Equality Index is important in the context of EU Enlargement, and it can be used to identify how potential and candidate countries must address discrimination.
    "Kosovo cannot enter the EU without equality among women and men,” said Chief Executive Officer of AGE Edona Hajrullahu. In Kosovo, AGE monitors the implementation of policies and laws from a gender perspective. “Statistics in Kosovo often are not harmonized,” she said. Creating a standard measure and indicator can facilitate the monitoring of the implementation of policies, including in the context of Kosovo’s EU integration.
     Officials from diverse governmental bodies took part in the workshop to learn more about the Gender Equality Index and to consider how Kosovo may begin putting in place mechanisms for collecting information related to the Index. Kosovo has the potential to be the first country in the region to introduce the Gender Equality Index.
     In the end, the aim of the Gender Equality Index is to inform policy, including policies in Kosovo, and thus support social change towards improved equality.
     “It doesn’t matter how many bright, shiny reports you have on your shelf if you do not use them,” said Ms. Therese Murphy, EIGE Statistics Officer. “You have to reflect gender equality in everything you do.” For example, it is crucial to integrate a gender perspective in all policies and laws, towards furthering equality in all sectors.
     “We are all born in boxes of what we should be and do as women and men,” said Karolina Vrethem, Policy Officer for Gender Equality from the European Commission. “We are trying to expand those boxes, so that we both have more room to work within them.” For example, she said, this may include more possibilities for men to undertake childcare and work as nurses, and more women to work as firefighters and officials.
     For more information about the Gender Equality Index and countries’ performance, visit: http://eige.europa.eu/content/gender-equality-index.  
     This workshop was supported by the Technical Assistance Information Exchange Instrument of the European Commission (TAIEX), and KWN representatives participated. During their visit to Prishtina, EIGE representatives also visited KWN’s office to learn more about the network and discuss potential future cooperation.