Students, Activists, Policy-makers Discuss Feminist Economics at UBT

 For one of the first times in Kosovo, feminist economics was discussed at a well-attended conference on Gender and Economics at the University of Business and Technology (UBT) in Prishtina. The conference was co-organized by UBT, the Austrian-Kosovo Association, the Kosovo Women’s Network (KWN) and the Gender Studies and Research Program at the University of Prishtina. KWN organized one of the panels, which sought to foster discussion surrounding feminist economics. 
Edmond Hajrizi, UBT Rector, provided the opening remarks. He highlighted the importance of research and innovation, as well as the promotion of gender equality in the economy. To this end, he announced of the official establishment of the UBT Gender Economics Centre. 
Then, Ulrike Lunacek, Vice-President of the European Parliament and Special Rapporteur on Kosovo     emphasized the importance of education for women to realize their rights. She observed that young boys play soccer and learn to play as a team towards achieving a shared goal, even if they do not like each other. Women tend not to have these opportunities, and this transfers over into their work in politics and business later in life.  She also noted the need for men to take on more roles at home, which would enable women to spend more time at work. Men would benefit as well, by having more time to spend with their children. 
 Jeta Krasniqi from the Office of the President of the Republic of Kosovo also spoke about the importance of women’s economic empowerment. 
   Then, Zogaj Gashi, Deputy Minister for the Ministry of Economic Development, announced that the Ministry is planning a pilot project, Employment of Women Online, which is expected to generate 20,000 jobs for women. 
   Sigrid Meyer from the Promoting Private Sector Employment (PPSE) project, introduced SMART Economics, a project to promote equal economic opportunities for women. She also introduced PPSE’s social media campaign “#edhetimundesh” and “#itimozes,” which seeks to encourage men and women to support women’s employment. KWN member Sylbije Sahiti from Parajsa Jone was featured in one of the short films about successful women. 
   Merita Limani, USAID Property Rights Program Gender and Property Rights Specialist, noted that the insufficient implementation of the Law of Inheritance impeded women’s economic empowerment. Due to cultural barriers, few women realize their right to inheritance. Thus, few women possess property in their name. 
Then, during the KWN-organized panel on Feminist Economics: Concepts and Theory, Dr. Vjollca Krasniqi from the University of Prishtina offered a feminist critique of mainstream economics. She emphasized the importance of changing macroeconomic policies to make them more gender responsive.
   Nicole Farnsworth, KWN Lead Researcher, explained the meaning of heterodox economics, feminist economics and some of the policy relevant theories that have been put forth by feminist economists. She then presented a working paper by herself, Nerina Guri and Donjeta Morina entitled “The Cost of Care,” which examines the impact care work may have on women’s labour force participation in Kosovo.  Farnsworth explained that although time, effort and special skills are required for care work, this work is rarely recognized for its effect on the economy.  Women comprise the majority of care givers, which evidence suggests may lead some women to sacrifice school and may contribute to women’s low labour force participation. Farnsworth emphasized the need to establish care centers which would create jobs and enable women’s increased labour force participation as a should-be policy priority. 
   Citing the Nobel Prize winning economist Amartya Sen’s Capabilities Approach, Ada Shima, Project Manager for the UNDP Active Labor Market Program, explained that poverty should not be measured only in terms of monetary value, but also with regard to freedom and the right to choose the life that we want to live. 
   During the second panel, Kerstin Neithammer Juergens, Family Law Expert from the EU Civil Code and Property Rights project offered her views on Kosovo’s new Civil Code, currently being drafted, focusing on the Family Law. 
  Mirlinda Purrini-Kusari, Executive Director of SHE-ERA, emphasized the need for government funding for projects that increase women’s employment and ensure equal opportunities in the workforce. 
  Lastly, Donjeta Morina from KWN gave a presentation on gender responsive budgeting. Morina explained its importance for policy-making and a simple methodology that can be used. 
This conference received funding from Swiss Cooperation in Kosovo via Swisscontact through the Promoting Private Sector Employment (PPSE) project.