On 20.09.2017 was held the concluding conference of the project Act on Equality. This project was implemented in the municipalities of Drenas, Podujeva, Mitrovica, Vitia, Vushtrri and Skënderaj. During the conference we presented the goals and efforts within the project, aiming at the inclusion of women in local decision-making, and its impact in these municipalities build upon two years of work and 62 meetings, trainings, campaigns and camps with women and men, boys and girls.
Mr. Richard Mei from the United States Embassy in Kosovo spoke about the inclusion of women in Kosovo, considering women as a vital part of society whose education and involvement improves the community. Mr. Mei considered such initiatives for the involvement of women should be implemented continuously.
Mrs. Feride Rushiti from KRCT – Kosova Rehabilitation Center for Torture Victims spoke about the cooperation with PEN in achieving the projects’ objectives. Mrs. Rushiti hopes that these continuous efforts will make gender equality the norm, rid our society of violence and render it into a society of prosperity, well-being and equality.
Mr. Kadri Gashi, Project Manager for Act on Equality talked about the success of the project and its focus on three pillars:
– Increasing the capacity of young women in leadership and local governance;
– Equal representation in local decision-making structures;
– Promotion of educational activities for girls and boys on gender equality and treatment of sexual and gender violence.
Mr. Gashi rewarded those who contributed to the project, showing gratitude for the municipalities’ cooperation, and everyone who’ve contributed to making changes on the matter.
The Mayor of Drenas, Mr. Ramiz Lladrovci was present to receive the acknowledgement for the contribution given by the Municipality of Drenas in the implementation of the project. Mr. Lladrovci talked about what has been done by the Municipality of Drenas for greater involvement of women, and stressed how important this is. In the Municipality of Drenas, half of the directorates are run by women.
Mrs. Besarta Meha and Mr. Latif Mehmeti were given the awards Leader Woman and Leader Men for their successes within the project.
Project Consultant, Vjollca Pllana-Shahini, shared information from the evaluation of the project.
For Ms. Pllana-Shahini gender-based violence and gender discrimination are highly present in these communities, and this project has largely affected the citizens’ awareness.
Mr. Pllana-Shahini spoke about the interest which community members have shown for the youth advocacy campaigns organized as part of the project Act on Equality. The young women involved have said that they feel much more empowered, that their voice is heard and that the trainings on leadership have been very useful.
In Village Councils there has been a shift from the non-inclusion of women and it has been made possible to provide adequate space and support for their participation in local decision-making.
To conclude the conference a Discussion Panel was held on the topic “Women in Local Decision-Making” with the panelists:
Latif Mehmeti from the Municipality of Podujeva, Rozafa Ukimeraj from the Ministry of Local Government Administration, Besnik Tahiri from the Kosovo Local Government Institute, Vjollca Pllana Shahini – Psychologist and Ideal Hoxha, Project Officer.
Mrs. Ukimeraj spoke abouut the extremely low participation of women in governance, their reluctance and the difficulties to engage them.
For Ms. Pllana-Shahini it is very important for young people to be educated as early as possible on gender equality and challenging gender stereotypes.
Mr. Tahiri talked about how women in our society have always been an important link in taking decisions. Mr. Tahiri considers that it is up to all of us to work in creating a suitable and proper environment for the equal engagement of women and men in decision-making, as well as in other aspects of society.
The attendees of the conference highlighted the challenges in working for gender equality. However, many of them agree that there are noticeable changes in our society.