Pristina, 07 March 2016 - In celebrati​on of International Woman’s Day 2016 we wanted to catch up with some of the bright young women that took part in our UN Global Open Day round table at UNMIK focusing on being a young woman in Kosovo.

After hearing their inspiring stories and witnessing their determination to fight for gender equality, we wanted to hear more.

Nita Zogiani, 20 years old, from Pristina
 ​                                                                                
What does gender equality mean to you?

Gender equality means equal visibility, empowerment, responsibility and participation for both women and men in all spheres of public and private life.

It means accepting and valuing equally the differences of women and men, and the diverse roles they play in society. A society where everyone can be themselves!

How are you involved in promoting gender equality in Kosovo?

I work in a non-governmental organization: Kosovar Gender Studies Center (KGSC) which aims to integrate gender-sensitive analyses, programs, and policies in all sectors of Kosovar society by increasing gender awareness, increasing focus on gender issues in the Kosovar educational system, developing gender studies, and ensuring the inclusion of gender sensitive policies in all sectors of life.

In addition to that, as an activist I support and take part in different national and international campaigns that raise gender issues.

Moreover, I speak up about inequalities and sexism faced and experienced on a daily basis and try to challenge those around me to think in different ways

Tell us about your experience at the UN Global Open Day round table on being a young women in Kosovo.

Mostly, as a young women what you say is not taken seriously and you are considered not to be the competent person to talk about such important issues. But then if we, the people who are facing and being affected by those inequalities and barriers everyday aren’t competent to speak out who is?

So it was really inspiring to see that people actually cared about what we had to say, and appreciated our efforts. Also, meeting other young women change-makers was very inspiring.

 

What kind of platforms and events would you like to take part in, in the future? Addressing which specific issues?

I am passionate about the inclusion of a gender perspective in development processes and creation of sustainable peace and human security for all members of society.

Therefore, education and youth involvement in peace building would be the specific fields I would be the most interested in, but not only.

I am also keen to learn about how to tackle sexism in media, and sexism in general, eliminating stereotypes and inclusion of men in promoting gender equality.

Blerta Kelmendi, 20 years old, from Mitrovica
What does gender equality mean to you?

Let’s stop believing that our differences make us superior or inferior to one another. No matter your social status or how powerful you feel, we are all equal.

How are you involved in promoting gender equality in Kosovo?

I’m part of the “Mitrovica Women’s Association for Human Rights”, where we have many projects for women’s rights and empowerment in rural places.

Also, I participate in many other projects on gender equality and to spread feminism, and now I am working with colleagues from the Young Women’s Peace Academy. We’re working on our strategic plan to create our Network and we have so many issues we want to work on.

Tell us about your experience at the UN Global Open Day round table on being a young women in Kosovo.

I really felt comfortable during the meeting. I think it was a great opportunity for us as young women to have that space to express our experience, our issues, and our plans for the future.
 
What kind of platforms and events would you like to take part in, in the future?
Addressing which specific issues?

I would like to participate in every project, event or platform to which I can contribute. I would especially like to work more on empowering women, spreading feminism and creating more projects for young people on gender equality, human rights etc.
 
Ardita Islami, 34 years old, from Mitrovica, living in Pristina
 

What does gender equality mean to you? 

Gender equality should start with the toys we play with during childhood.

How are you involved in promoting gender equality in Kosovo?

As a member of the Young Women's Peace Academy it makes it easier for me to promote gender equality. I collaborate with local NGO “Artpolis" and work with them to promote gender equality for example, with the "Take back the night” on 14th February and the "One billion rising” campaigns. I also work with RAE (Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptian) communities as a facilitator and every week we organize a game or activity to demonstrate that we are all equal.

Tell us about your experience at the UN Global Open Day round table on being a young women in Kosovo.

My experience at the UN round table surpassed my expectations, we were listened to carefully. The UN hosts were great and very friendly. I hope to participate in many other meetings like this.

What kind of platforms and events would you like to take part in, in the future? Addressing which specific issues?

I would like to be part of any campaign, training, workshop that involve men and women of different ethnicities and different education levels. Diversity gives the best results allowing new ideas spread faster. The issues I would like to tackle are: gender equality, discrimination and stereotypes.
  

Zana Syla, 20 years old, from Mitrovica

What does gender equality mean to you? 

Gender equality is based on the fundamental belief that both women and men should live by and be exposed to equal rights and opportunities - and also it is about time that gender issues stop being treated as women’s issues, they are everybody’s issues.

How are you involved in promoting gender equality in Kosovo?

I am involved in ‘Community Building Mitrovica’, a local NGO operating in the field of peace and community building in northern Kosovo that also promotes gender equality and women’s empowerment through different projects, and I also work with the Young Women Network, a platform that aims at achieving gender equality both in Kosovo and Serbia and reconciliation and cooperation. In addition to these initiatives, I truly believe that the best activists and promoters of gender equality are those who share and promote the values of humanity/human rights in their everyday lives starting from within their homes and families, to their schools and work places. I like to think of myself as one of them.
 

Tell us about your experience at the UN Global Open Day round table on being a young women in Kosovo.

It was a pleasure and privilege to participate in the UN Global Open Day and share Kvinna till Kvinna Young Women’s Peace Academy’s achievements with the audience and UN representatives, especially that of the Kosovo National Charter. The aim of this charter is to address the challenges and needs that young women face in Kosovo and serve as an advocacy tool to influence stakeholders. The Global Open Day round table was a great opportunity for me, on behalf of the group and work we all did, to share and lobby for all the issues we tackled with this document.

I also personally found this event to be a very important platform to express my opinion on the materialization of the 1325 UN resolution on women, peace and security, and the challenges that we as young women face in our everyday lives here in Kosovo. Knowing that the input we gave that day in front of the UN representatives will be also addressed at UN Headquarters in New York gives me immense satisfaction. I thought this round table was a very productive event.

What kind of platforms and events would you like to take part in, in the future? Addressing which specific issues?

I am very open to all kind of opportunities and events where I can contirbute to the promotion and better implementation of the women, peace and security agenda; also I am looking forward to new experiences that will enhance my skills even more in order to be a better advocate for gender equality and the other causes/issues mentioned above.

Vildana Aliti, 22 years old, from Prizren​

What does gender equality mean to you? ​

To me gender equality means the equality of men and women in the spheres of public and private life.

​How are you involved in promoting gender equality in Kosovo?

I am an activist of women's rights in Kosovo and also work in an office for gender equality in Prizren, therefore contributing to better implementation of women's rights, including through various activities to promote gender equality. 

Tell us about your experience at the UN Global Open Day round table on being a young women in Kosovo.

It was exciting and I heard very interesting things, I learned that gender equality is supported in Kosovo. 

What kind of platforms and events would you like to take part in, in the future? Addressing which specific issues?

I want to participate in events that are related to the protection of women against violence, the education of women, and most importantly, the economic empowerment of women in Kosovo. 

​​​Stefana Stamenković, 23 years old, from Mitrovica

What does gender equality mean to you? ​

Gender equality for me means providing opportunities and empowering both genders, in order to have equal rights. In practice it means that all genders can participate in decision making process in political, professional, social or private life equally, without discrimination or any pressure, by sharing duties and responsibilities.

​How are you involved in promoting gender equality in Kosovo?​

Since I began working for Diakonie Kosova-Youth Center, I have become more involved in promoting gender equality at local level than at a national level. Our main goal is to achieve reconciliation between youth of both genders from all representative communities in Mitrovica (Albanian, Serbian, Bosnian, Roma, Ashkali, Egyptian and Turkish communities) though our activities. All our activities are focused on non-formal learning and empowering youth, whilst paying attention to ensuring gender balance. All youth, regardless of their gender, are welcome to join in all the activities we organize: make-up, tailoring, aerobics, football, boxing and parkour. Last year according to statistical data we had around 800 participants in all activities organized by Diakonie Youth Center, 55% of which were girls! 

Tell us about your experience at the UN Global Open Day round table on being a young women in Kosovo.

It was really interesting for me, first of all to visit UNMIK HQ for the first time, as well as to participate in the round table discussion. I heard different opinions and views of other women, and I’m really glad that they are all fighting for gender equality, especially for women rights. I’m glad that I was part of the conference and able to express my opinion. 

What kind of platforms and events would you like to take part in, in the future? Addressing which specific issues?

I prefer to take part in every activity related to youth in Kosovo, since it is my professional field. But also I would like to participate in activities related to other topics, since I’m a really open minded person for any kind of conversation and action. ​​