Several women are unemployed in Gjilan region. Without employment and income, some women struggle to participate in decision-making within their families, let alone in the public sphere. Many women also lack knowledge about their rights to inheritance and gender equality.
Knowing well the challenges that women face within their community, NGO Gruaja Hyjnore (Divine Women) set out to educate women about their rights, as well as support them in generating income towards their economic empowerment. Knowing their rights, coupled with greater economic independence could empower women’s improved participation in decision-making, they believed.
Although Gruaja Hyjnore had perated informally since 2005, they could not afford an office space.
Support from the Kosovo Women’s Fund (€2,420) enabled them to advocate successfully for the Municipality of Gjilan to provide an office
space free of charge for the organization’s activities.
Since May 2013, the Municipality of Gjilan has provided a free venue for the organization’s use. This cooperation with the Municipality has
enabled Gruaja Hyjnore to decrease its operational costs, contributing substantially to the organization’s sustainability.
“The Municipality of Gjilan is trying to pay a lot of attention to women’s rights and in terests, as we know that the role of women in society is indisputable,” said Omer Daku, Deputy Major of the Municipality of Gjilan. “We, as the Municipality, are trying to create more space for women to act and undertake more activities.”
Gruaja Hyjnore has used their new space to empower women economically. With support from the Kosovo Women’s Fund, they have held 10 workshops on gender equality, women’s rights to property inheritance, and advanced techniques in the art of handmade crafts for 40 women ages 25 to 40.
“The NGO’s activities have helped me, as a woman with no higher education, get out of my daily routine; meet other women; exchange experiences; attend trainings about new techniques for handmade products; receive certificates; showcase my work in different exhibitions; and, above all, feel more valuable,” said Alije Ajeti, a participant. “Another very important thing is that I’ve been able to sell my handmade crafts. In this way, I have supported my family economically. Now, even my husband’s support has grown stronger.”
Gruaja Hyjnore also has collaborated with the shelter in Gjilan by inviting women to attend their workshops. This provided the opportunity for women who have experienced violence to learn how to make hand crafts, which they can then sell. In addition, they found the lectures on property inheritance and gender equality very useful. They have requested that Gruaja Hyjnore continue organizing similar activities in the future.
In addition to gaining knowledge about their rights, through this initiative 36 women have sold their products at fairs. The four women from the women’s shelter earned approximately € 400 in total from the sale of their products. This initiative thus has contributed to empowering women, both economically and towards their enhanced participation in decision-making.