Pristina, 7 April 2022 – The Kosovo Women’s Network (KWN) in close cooperation with the European Union (EU), the Swedish Agency for International Development Cooperation (Sida), the Ombudsperson Institution and other important actors launched the second edition of the research report on gender-based discrimination and labour in Kosovo. The report is part of a KWN-led regional initiative to address gender-based discrimination in labour in six Western Balkan countries, funded by the EU and co-funded by Sweden/Sida.
The report analyses and identifies shortcomings in the relevant legal framework, as per the EU gender equality acquis; the prevalence and nature of gender-based discrimination related to labour; the extent to which people have filed claims; and how institutions have treated such cases. It provides recommendations for each relevant actor.
Key findings, presented by two co-authors, Adelina Tërshani and David JJ Ryan, include:
- The legal and policy framework related to gender-based discrimination and labour in Kosovo seems rather comprehensive, particularly considering that much of the law is drafted in accordance with EU law. However, some overlap and unclarities require address.
- Most women and men survey respondents seemed aware that gender-based discrimination is illegal. While awareness seems to have increased since 2018, knowledge on where to report gender-based discrimination has remained low. While several knew that such discrimination should be reported to employers or the Labour Inspectorate, few knew of other institutions dealing with such cases.
- The institutions responsible for addressing gender-based discrimination at work lacked data about its prevalence. However, evidence shows that gender-based discrimination exists, particularly in hiring, promotion, maternity leave and sexual harassment at work.
- While police and prosecutors seem generally knowledgeable about their responsibilities in addressing gender-based discrimination at work, few such criminal cases have been reported, so they lacked practical experience and case law.
- Courts still have little judicial practice, and few judges seemed knowledgeable regarding the relevant legal framework.
- While labour inspectors tended to know about the Labour Law, they had few discrimination-related cases and did not seem to consider treating gender-based discrimination a priority; some reports existed of inspectors’ inappropriate treatment of cases.
Key recommendations include:
- The Labour Law, Law on Gender Equality and Law on Protection from Discrimination need amending to reduce overlap, clarify procedures and provide clearer sanctions for gender-based discrimination;
- The Labour Law needs to include maternity, paternity, parental and carers leave in line with the EU Directive for Work-Life Balance;
- More labour inspectors are needed, particularly women, who are trained on recognising and addressing gender-based discrimination at work; and
- Inter-sectoral collaboration among relevant institutions and civil society is needed, including trade unions, in raising women and men’s awareness regarding what constitutes gender-based discrimination and how to report it; and supporting persons who have experienced such discrimination in seeking justice.
Igballe Rogova, KWN Executive Director, said that KWN has been lobbying since 2016 to amend the Labour Law.
“Now, there is an urgent need; there are no more justification to delay the amendment of the Labour Law, because it is extremely important as the current law discriminates against all citizens, but especially women. It should be possible to increase the number of inspectors in the labour market,” Rogova said, also calling on all those who are discriminated against to report cases to the relevant actors.
AnnaCarin Platon, Head of the Political, Economic and European Integration, and Press and Information section at the EU Office in Kosovo said that the roots and causes of discrimination should be analysed. She also observed that there are still many inequalities between mothers and fathers in terms of childcare.
“I … am looking forward to our joint work in the future. The EU Office in Kosovo will remain committed to helping Kosovo to close the gender-based discrimination gap in labour,” Platon said.
The institutions present generally agreed with KWN’s recommendations and confirmed their commitment to implementing them. The Ombudsperson, Naim Qelaj, commended KWN for the report, as well as its research and comparative work, which provide more information for policy-making.
“Regarding gender-based discrimination, despite efforts and measures to advance the position of women, there is still discrimination in almost all areas. Challenges, obstacles and discrimination expressed in these areas became more apparent last year. In 2021, the Ombudsperson received 138 complaints for violations of rights at work. Women are more disadvantaged than men. Gender-based discrimination is present in both the public and private sector, and they are rarely reported due to the non-recognition of rights and lack of practical experience and case law,” he said.
Drinas Zeqiraj, Acting Head of the Division for Drafting and Harmonisation of Legislation at the Ministry of Finance, Labour and Transfers said that many of the recommendations have been addressed in the draft Labour Law, especially those related to the EU Work-Life Balance Directive.
“We are working on finalising the draft Labour Law. It is important to include social dialogue. The legislative plan is expected to be approved by the end of June 2022. It may be postponed for a while, but it is an urgent need to be finalised and proceed for adoption as soon as possible,” he said.
Agim Millaku, the acting head of the Labour Inspectorate, said he agrees with KWN’s findings.
“The Labour Inspectorate lacks capacities, both in terms of administrative organisation, but also the number of labour inspectors. I agree with the recommendations of the report and consider that the Labour Inspectorate should work harder so that treatment is equal for all citizens in terms of employment,” he said.
The KWN research invovled mixed methods, including review and analysis of the legal framework and different reports, an online survey and interviews. This second edition of the report covers the period since 2018, and thus serves as an update to the original research with the same title published in 2019.