Press release – “Meaningful participation of women in local peacebuilding leads to overall sustainable peace”
(Prishtina, 27 September 2019) – On the International Day of Peace, women emphasized that a meaningful participation of women in local peacebuilding leads to overall sustainable peace. They made a strong call for improving the empowerment of women in peacebuilding and decision making at local levels stating that women are peace drivers, who contribute to a better future. They are capable of getting beyond political and ethnic lines for advancing common goals of better life in peace, democracy, development and harmony in multi-ethnic municipalities, much needed in Kosovo and throughout the region of Western Balkans. The Regional Roundtable entitled “Community Level Peacebuilding in Kosovo” held on 21 September 2019 in Prishtina, organized by the Regional Women’s Lobby in South East Europe (RWLSEE) and UN Women Kosovo, with support from Swedish Government and Swedish Embassy in Kosovo. Participants were representatives of local women from multi-ethnic municipalities in Kosovo, women mayors from the region of Western Balkans, the RWLSEE Steering Committee members, CSOs, representatives of the Kosovo Ministry of Local Government Administration, Embassy of Sweden in Kosovo, UN Women and other UN Agencies in Kosovo.
The keynote speakers included Edita Tahiri, Chair of RWLSEE, Ulrika Richardson, UN Development Coordinator in Kosovo, Karin Henmarck Ahliney, Swedish Ambassador in Kosovo and Vlora Tuzi Nushi, Head UN Women office in Kosovo. They made inspiring and highly encouraging speeches in support of women’s empowerment and gender equality, calling for gender inclusive peacebuilding and governance and highlighting the need to restore the missing link between local and national level efforts for peacebuilding, prosperity and stability in Kosovo and beyond.
This Regional roundtable provided a platform for dialogue to women from different communities, in which they discussed common problems that they face, while highlighting that dialogue strengthens inter-ethnic trust between them and creates a space for women to dialogue with local and national authorities. Women shared their visions, experiences, challenges, and successes and agreed on common goals. They identified obstacles hindering the peacebuilding processes and reconciliation, while jointly agreed to withstand them. They shared concrete policies and actions with national and international authorities that were present in the meeting, and concrete steps that women can take to achieve the identified goals.
The regional perspective to the local challenges for effective peacebuilding was discussed by women mayors from the region and RWLSEE Steering Committee members who as well shared best practices from the region. This activity also served as an opportunity for women mayors from the region to cooperate and bring forward the regional networking and the Association of Women Mayors in the Western Balkans.
Women participants came up with joint declaration, outlining five top recommendation, as follows:
Joint declaration and top five recommendations
Participants expressed concerns about fragile peace and security in Kosovo and the region of Western Balkans, due to weak democratic institutions, rule of law, corruption, low economic growth, ethnic division and distrust, lack of progress in normalization of relations with dialogue stalled for two years between Serbia and Kosovo and delays in European and Euro-Atlantic integration of Western Balkans countries. The current peace and security context with its fragility threatens to have disproportionally negative effects on women and other marginalized groups including minorities, the disabled and migrants.
The role of local women remains undervalued and they remain sidelined from peacebuilding processes and decision-making about the future of communities and our countries. Low participation of local women also derives from the ‘missing link’ between local and national peacebuilding, because it seems that the central government and political actors are less interested in contributing to local level peace. Consequently, the space is so limited for women working for peace in their communities to have dialogue with decision makers at national level.
Women from across the region, including from Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Albania emphasized that it is crucial to move beyond commitments and make gender-inclusive peace processes a reality.
Since peacebuilding is yet an unfinished process, the process of sustainable peace, stability and democracy in the region needs a thorough working primarily in local levels and in the following fields.
First, there is the necessity for a continued communication and cooperation with women of all groups in Kosovo and the region with special emphasis on working with young people and young women as they are the ones that will live in peace that is currently being build. In order to have a continuous peace building, there must be a continuous cooperation between women leaders with young generation, so to prepare young leadership and put them at the heart of peace, through more frequent meetings with young people from the region.
Second, there is a need to work in the continued education, of young girls and women that are involved and understand the process of peace building. Participants also highlighted the need to strengthen and include young women from different groups in this topic (not only women engaged in political parties but also women from civil society, media, and other associations) in order to create a decent platform for the future joint work.
Third, since the legal framework in Kosovo and region is quite good, there are still problems with its implementation. For this, participants recommended to convert the actual declarative situation into reality through calling for the rights and obligation provided by law and pressuring the local government and local communities to do their jobs, as their duty is to resolve problems such as missing or mismanaged social services.
Fourth, participants highlighted the importance of regional cooperation, along with sharing of good experiences, meeting with powerful women that will not only serve as a model to them but perhaps become their mentors in the future, and thus give them courage and empowerment in the process of peace building and women participation in decision making.
Fifth, participants proposed a model to be created, that will serve as a bridge of communication between women, so that all women regardless the region they come from, can be informed either about current happenings or where they can get involve or included, and this way contribute more to joint work.
Besides these five recommendations, participant also expressed their will to further promoting important stories and projects they are advocating for, and their dedication to expand networks with women from other areas as well.
Finally, they reminded us that the stability and democracy must go jointly, as said in the opening of conference.
Regional Women’s Lobby in South East Europe (RWLSEE) continuously advocates for enhanced collaboration among women from the Western Balkans and increased empowerment of women in democratic governance and peace-building processes.
For further information, please contact Diana Cekaj-Berisha, RWLSEE Coordinator at email: email@example.com