Last week, Kvinna till Kvinna organized an event together with our partner organization Mitrovica Women’s Association for Human Rights. It was a study visit and consultation meeting about women’s security situation in the Mitrovica region. The idea was to provide a space where security actors such as the EU, the UN and local institutions would meet with women’s organizations to become more aware of the challenges that they are facing.
The event was highly appreciated by the participants. Even though there were many things raised, there was one issue that was highlighted during the roundtable in the afternoon: the exclusion of women in all levels of decision making and the negative consequences for women’s rights. As one of the women put it:
– How come our resources and knowledge are not considered? We have a lot of capacities but we are never given a chance to contribute.
The meeting revealed that there is a big gap in women’s representation in decision making at the local level. Interestingly, there is a gender quota in both Kosovo and Serbia, which ensures women in local and central decision making, but it has never been implemented in the municipalities in the North of Kosovo. According to the discussant, it is because of the exclusion of women in decision making, that their problems do not get attention.
Several ignored issues were raised: high prevalence of violence against women as a consequence of the war, big number of weapons still present in the society, and lack of access to justice due to the legal vacuum in the North of Kosovo. One woman from the Northern part of Mitrovica called for increased support to NGOs that provide direct services to victims of violence. She reported that whereas shelters for women exist in the rest of the country, there is no such place in the North of Kosovo.
The discussions focused not only on problems, but also on opportunities. For example, several persons argued that the improved dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia could be a chance for women to take more space in the future. Currently, the women’s organizations work actively to mobilise women to vote in the upcoming local elections in November, and they hope many women will take positions in the local assembly. Kvinna till Kvinna will of course continue to follow their work during the autumn and let you know how it goes.
Text: Lina Andéer
Photos: Laura Katona