On June 13, at Hotel Emerald in Pristina, Ambassador Nataliya Apostolova, Head of the EU Office in Kosovo and EU Special Representative (EUSR), the Kosovo Women’s Network (KWN) and the Kosovo Lobby for Gender Equality jointly organised first meeting with women politicians, members of parliament, municipal assemblies and gender equality officers. The meeting created a space for strategizing how to strengthen the impact of women in politics and decision-making in Kosovo.
Ambassador Nataliya Apostolova emphasized the important role of women. Women in politics, in particular, can advance the position of women and contribute to achieving gender equality. “A key aspect is solidarity,” Ambassador Apostolova said. “Sometimes societies teach us, as women, to compete with each other, to under-cut each other, to bring each other down. We have to stop this vicious circle. It is when we unite and come together that we are the strongest and bring about the greatest changes.”
Igballe Rogova, KWN Executive Director, spoke about the history of women’s joint organizing, recalling the significant changes that have occurred in Kosovo when women in politics and civil society have united. Recognizing this, the Kosovo Lobby for Gender Equality emphasized in their last meeting the need for women politicians at local and central levels to unite forces. “When we saw the need to reunite at the local level, we began collecting assemblies across various municipalities because we saw that together we can push things forward,” Rogova said. “It’s time to join together.”
Concretely, participants divided into working groups to strategize and discuss key factors undermining women’s participation in politics. They identified steps to be taken between now and the next elections, towards increasing women’s involvement in politics. Working group topics included: improving the legal framework; working with political party leaders; building constituencies and mobilizing women voters; financing women candidates’ campaigns: recruiting and empowering more women candidates to run; addressing issues preventing women’s participation in politics; and improving media coverage of women candidates and politicians.
Participants agreed on the need to establish a joint alliance of women in politics that would help promote their shared aims and successes. They also discussed creating a Mentoring Program for women politicians at local and central levels. Women politicians provided information regarding their expectations for such a program and ideas on how women can best support each other.
This led to a second meeting on June 22, at Hotel Sirius in Prishtina, where women politicians at central and local level, non-governmental organizations led by women and women activists who support and empower each other in improving the position of women in politics, decision-making and advancing gender equality in Kosovo, have established the Coalition for Equality.
Participants pledged to work towards fulfilling the mission and joint vision for empowering and improving women’s position in politics and decision-making and achieving gender equality in Kosovo, regardless of political preferences, gender, age, ethnicity, ability, religion, geographic position, level of education or socio-economic status.
Former President of the Republic of Kosovo, Ms. Atifete Jahjaga in her greeting address in this important event, among other things stated that “No woman would have been mentioned in history if they were not united in their causes”.
Meanwhile, Rogova while speaking about the emerging idea that women from all spheres should join and seeing that women remain underrepresented in politics at municipal and central level in Kosovo, emphasized that “The message of this union is solidarity among women”.
This initiative was supported by the Office of the Special Representative of the European Union in Kosovo.