Kosovo Women’s Network (KWN) for many years now has advocated for Kosovo shelters to have a sufficient budget to fully support women and children who have experienced domestic violence.
The end of the year 2019 found Kosovo again in crisis of lack of financial support for shelters for 2020. Thanks to KWN meetings and advocacy letters, the response of Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare (MLSW) this year was faster and in accordance with the state’s constitutional obligation in protecting and supporting domestic violence victims. Presently, shelters can apply for financial support for the year 2020. This is due to an open call made possible by a fund provided by the annual MLSW budget carried over from the previous year.
Although this support is not fully in line with the advocacy of KWN, the result of which was the establishment of the budget line for basic services of shelters in the 2019 state budget, nevertheless this opening call for shelters’ financial support at the beginning of January is a positive step toward supporting domestic violence victims. It will also serve as an incentive to never stop our work and activism, despite the eventual challenges.
The 2019 Law on Budget of the Republic of Kosovo included a separate line for the financing of shelters, the establishment of which was made possible as a result of the KWN’s advocacy during 2018. Although the shelters’ financial support line was approved by the Kosovo Assembly, by which shelters and day care centres received 60,000 euros per year, still the MLSW did not implement this particular line. Shelters and day care centres during the year 2019 were subject to the same application procedures for financial support, just as in previous years when such a budget line was nonexistent. The shelters got support of barely over half of the amount allocated for them, something that exposed them to the danger of closure during the very first months of 2020.
During past year KWN held advocacy meetings with MLSW officials, aiming to ensure that shelters and day care centres would receive the funds allocated for services of Gender-based Violence (GBV) victims, as per the 2019 Budget.
KWN recalls that guarantying the safety and well-being of women and children is in accord with the constitutional obligations and legal responsibilities of the Republic of Kosovo.
Below we are listing some of the activities that KWN undertook over decades in support of this issue. This list is a reminder that KWN will continue to seek financial stability for shelters, at all costs.
During the second half of 2007, KWN was actively involved in the project called “Providing Safety, Promoting Health; Combating Gender-Based Violence in Kosovo”, supported by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). KWN was involved in this initiative as an effort to help raise the level of financial support and to support for shelters, as well as to support the establishment of specific cooperation systems between shelters. All of this in addition to protecting, assisting and supporting domestic violence victims.
In July 2012 KWN members met with the Minister of MLSW to discuss the lack of proper legislation addressing gender-based violence. Members also stated that Law on Social Services was not being fully implemented; furthermore, shelters were not included on the state budget.
In November 2018 KWN, together with representatives of shelters and day care centres, addressed a public letter to the members of the Kosovar Assembly. This letter demanded that a budget for shelters and day centres be allocated within the 2019 budget proposal. This appeal gained the support of MPs, who voted in favour of it in the parliamentary session. As a result of KWN’s advocacy the establishment of the budget line “Basic Housing for Shelters” was made possible, amounting to € 880,000.
Ten shelters and women’s and child protection centres on December 9th, 2019 sent a letter to the National Coordinator against Domestic Violence, Naim Qelaj.
Conclusively, we recall that Kosovo has adopted the National Strategy for Protection against Domestic Violence and the Action Plan for Protection against Domestic Violence 2016-2020, according to which MLWS is required to “set a permanent budget for shelters, which should be sufficient to cover all the costs, including counselling and care toward domestic violence victims.”
KWN will engage in all necessary activities to seek institutional accountability in fulfilling all the needed financial conditions for a well-functioning shelter. This as a vital step toward the long-term goal that women and girls enjoy a life free from gender-based violence.