International Women's Day 2014 Transcript
International Women’s Day is celebrated every year on March 8th. It is a time to reflect on progress made but also to call for change. On this day, we celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in their communities.
This year, the theme for International Women’s Day is: “Equality for women is progress for all.” And today we have representatives from UN Women and civil society to talk about what this day means for Kosovo.
UN Women fosters women’s leadership and supports gender equality. Ms. Flora Macula is the Director of UN Women’s office in Kosovo:
[FLORA MACULA, HEAD OF U.N. WOMEN IN KOSOVO]
On behalf of UN Women, I would like to congratulate all the women and men of Kosovo on International Women's Day, the 8th of March. International Women's Day tells the story of ordinary women as makers of history. It is rooted in the centuries-old struggle of women to participate in society on an equal footing with men.
On this day, around the world, women and men organize campaigns, protests and various activities to attract attention of people and decision makers, both global and local, and in our case Kosovar attention, towards problems that women face, and to bring visibility to women’s contribution to the building and development of society, as part of it.
Previously, in Kosovo and other socialist and communist countries, the 8th of March was celebrated as International Mother’s Day. And with the pretext that women enjoy equal rights, this day was marked with presents and festive organizations for women, a practice that continues today.
However, this day has a political character, not only celebratory. That is, the day should be used to hear the voice of women, and after that, why not to celebrate.
This year, the 8th of March in Kosovo will be marked with various activities that show that the entire society benefits from advancement of women and gender equality. There is no development and no progress if half of the population is excluded from development processes.
The Kosovo Gender Studies Center engages in research, policy development, advocacy and lobbying. The Center’s Executive Director, Luljeta Vuniqi, feels it’s necessary to increase the political participation of women.
[LULJETA VUNICI, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, KOSOVO GENDER STUDIES CENTER]
International Women’s day is always good to be used for raising awareness about the importance of women participating in political life, because when I look back and I remember my childhood and being a young adult, I don’t remember that I was, or my generation was, encouraged to participate in political life; we were rather more encouraged to choose our professions that used to be called or so-called women professions like being a teacher. I know that I was encouraged to study medicine or to be a nurse, but never encouraged to be part of the political life. And I think that encouraging this now and using this day is important because of the fact that, at that time and now, still politics is about men, and the idea and the mentality of our society is that politics is hard so it’s better to keep away so that men as the strong ones should remain.
Vesna Ordiq runs SABOR, a women’s association in Mitrovica North. For her, the economic empowerment of women is crucial.
[VESNA ORDIC, SABOR ASSOCIATION OF WOMEN, MITROVICA NORTH]
Economic security and economic independence are basic needs. They allow a person to become empowered, and have total control over their life.
The steps towards economic independence and security are not easy. But one should work hard, be motivated, have a goal, be persistent, and invest in new knowledge. The Women’s Association SABOR has existed in Mitrovica North for 14 years and has experience in empowering women, through education, training and support, in order to reduce poverty among women.
The first manager of this local NGO was Milanka Ordic, my mother. She built this organization, while I participated in all activities and programs. As the organization was growing, I grew with it. Two years ago, my mother passed away. But I continued her work -- partially due to emotional reasons but more so because she created a space where there are positive interactions and exchanges between people and where women can demonstrate their skills and creativity.”
International Women’s Day is important for women in developed and developing countries alike. The growing movement helps build support for women’s rights and for their participation in political, academic and economic arenas. Equality for women is progress for all.