Illustrative Picture from protest held on May 1 2019, Prishtinë
The Kosovo Women’s Network (KWN), on International Workers’ Day, demands greater attention for Women’s labour rights and for ongoing state efforts to combat gender-based discrimination in the labour market.
As a consequence of gender discrimination, according to KWN research, women continue to make up only 13.7% of the workforce in Kosovo. Moreover, even when they are employed, women are paid less than men for the same job, hold lower positions, are denied paid maternity leave and are exposed to sexual harassment in the workplace. Sexual harassment is especially prevalent in the private sector, which in most cases belong to the informal sector.
Due to social norms, women are also burdened with unpaid housework such as caring for children, the elderly and other household chores, which they cannot make an income from.
This year, while we are facing the global pandemic COVID-19, we need to take into account that the most jobs deemed “essential” are staffed by women. Women in these positions are not being paid overtime, are having their working hours doubled without increasing their pay, are having to take care of their children and home while doing their job, and are not receiving adequate personal protection equipment. In some cases, women are even losing their jobs if they raise concerns about their safety and their inadequate pay.
It is imperative that the government urgently implements a comprehensive gender analysis, in order to inform and guide further government measures and to involve more women in drafting plans and policies that tackle this virus. In the long term, the government must ensure that working women are protected by the Labour Law that addresses maternity leave, paternity and parental leave. In addition, the government should work to improve the institutional response to reported cases of gender discrimination in the labour market by increasing the number of inspectors and their knowledge in this field. They also need to treat cases of sexual harassment seriously, as is stipulated by the Criminal Code of Kosovo.
Therefore, it is important that on International Workers’ Day and every other day we make sure that responsible institutions do not fail to protect workers’ rights. We need to advocate for social policies that strengthen gender equality, and fight for the well-being of women and men in Kosovo.
In addition to issuing this press release, KWN also marked May 1 by participating in the discussion “Work and Women” hosted by the Kosovar Gender Studies Centre (KGSC). Adelina Tërshani, KWN Project Coordinator, was among the speakers to discuss socio-economic aspects of work, gender roles and gender discrimination in sharing the workload.
Click HERE to watch a live-stream of this discussion.