The current Labor Law is one of the main reasons for low participation of women in the labor market (about 12%). This is because this law does not recognize men’s parental leave. Employed men are entitled to take only two days of paid leave and two weeks of unpaid leave, which they can use at any time before the child reaches the age of three. However, employed women get 12 months of leave, including nine months paid and three months unpaid.
Thus, this law discriminates against men, not offering them equal rights to be with their children, while also reduces women’s participation in the economy.
The Center for Protection of Women and Children “Raba Voca” through their initiative “Parental leave as a future model in Kosovo”, has held information sessions, discussions with citizens and institutional representatives, has done research, and has disseminated information through the media. All these activities supported by the Kosovo Women’s Fund (KGF), were implemented in Mitrovica, Vushtrri, and Skenderaj. They aim to raise awareness and lobby for the importance of equal rights of both parents to be with their children.
Through these activities, about 330 women and 80 men became aware of promoting gender equality, and a full 3,000 citizens received more information about the involvement of fathers in childcare.
“Raba Voca” has held meetings with key actors of the Municipality of Mitrovica, Skenderaj and Vushtrri, where they discussed about the joint parental leave and the benefits that would be gained from men being granted paternity leave. There are many benefits to this practice, including paternal bonding, as well as the economic empowerment of women.
“Paternity leave would enable us [women] to return to work faster and not be separated for too long. This way we have the opportunity to reduce the risk of becoming unemployed, receiving a lower salary or a demotion after returning to work “, said a participant in one of the meetings organized by “Raba Voca”.
Hyka Imeri, Gender Equality Official in the Municipality of Skenderaj emphasized that “discrimination towards girls starts from the mother’s womb, when the sex of the baby is known. These traditions and mentality are very difficult to change.”
This advocacy initiative was not limited to the women participating in the activities. “Raba Voca” has organized meetings with students of the University of Mitrovica, in order to discuss these pressing issues. The Executive Directorate of “Raba Voca”, Fidane Hyseni has also appeared on TV Mitrovica and Radio Vicianum to inform the citizens of this initiative.
During the five months that these activities lasted, a survey was conducted in these three municipalities. From the questionnaire conducted with 150 women and men between ages of 17-90 years, it was concluded that a very small number of citizens have used the joint parental leave. When interviewed, citizens were asked that whose responsibility it was to take care of the children. Most answered that both parents equally should be responsible. A small percentage answered that it is women’s responsibility, while an even smaller percentage estimated that childcare belongs only to men.
This project is supported by the Kosovo Women’s Fund (KWF) and funded by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA).