RWLSEE’s TIRANA DECLARATION
Regional Conference called for the Women’s Empowerment to ensure a Peaceful Balkans and European Future
(Tirana, 26 October 2019) – On the eve of the 20th anniversary of the UN SCRC1325 and Women Peace and Security Agenda, the Regional Women’s Lobby in South East Europe (RWLSEE) together with UN Women, with support of Swedish Government, organized The Regional Conference on Women’s Empowerment for a Peaceful Balkan’s and European Future, aiming to strengthen women’s participation in decision making, peace building and European Integration.
The Regional Conference was chaired by Dr. Edita Tahiri, the RWLSEE Chair, who in the opening speech said that time has come for power to women and for gender power balance in the Western Balkans and world, which is the only way to maximize human capital for peace, democracy, prosperity and stability and a safe future.
The regional conference included women representatives from state level, women MPs from Kosovo and Serbia, the RWLSEE Steering Committee members, representatives from CSO’s and international organizations including UN Women in Kosovo, UN Women in Albania, EU office in Kosovo and other UN Agencies and RCC. Within four discussion panels topics included strengthening women’s participation in formal peace processes with specific of the Brussels dialogue, enhancing women’s access to justice, European integration and regional cooperation for women’s empowerment, women’s equal participation in decision making and peace building.
Women shared ideas, experiences, and innovative initiatives in order to foster synergies for advancing women’s empowerment across the region, as well as common goals to consolidate peace building, reconciliation and European and Euro-Atlantic Integration.
Through intensive and very constructive discussions on the topics of the agenda, participants agreed on the following declaration:
1. Participants expressed concerns about fragile peace and security in the Western Balkans, which continues to be threatened by weak democratic institutions, rule of law, corruption, low economic growth, ethnic division and distrust. They emphasized that recent geopolitical challenges, non-resolution of normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia and delays in European and Euro Atlantic integration of countries in the region present major issues to be resolved. They called for the equal women’s empowerment to ensure a peaceful Balkans and European future, expressing their belief that gender equality and greater women’s empowerment can help overcome the above-mentioned challenges, speeding up development, democracy, stability and preventing the phenomena of youth running away to find a future in the third countries.
2. Women called for formal peace processes to integrate gender inclusive agreements and necessary equal participation of women in negotiating tables, with specific focus on the Brussels dialogue on the normalization of relation between Kosovo and Serbia, for the sake of lasting peace and stability in the region. Furthermore, participants agreed that final agreement between Prishtina and Belgrade should contribute to peace and stability in Balkan’s and help speed up European integration for all Western Balkan countries. Although with stalled Brussels dialogue in past two years, women demonstrated commitment to dialogue, hence, women MPs from Kosovo and Serbia, came to conference and discussed in dialogue spirit, showing a growing culture of peace, a culture of dialogue and a culture of living in diversity.
3. Participants highlighted the message for women in politics to never forget to raise women’s agenda, while emphasizing that equality in decision-making starts with equality in political parties’ leadership, which requires more political culture, more democratization and less structural obstacles such as patriarchalism and sexism. Participants also called for equality and women’s empowerment to be promoted by women in state institutions, international organisational and civil society organizations, as they are the only ones that can influence the most.
4. Regarding EU integrations and regional cooperation, participants had a common view about having the Balkan of equals, democratic, European and Euro-Atlantic, stabile and peaceful. They considered ethnic principles and border change can be threatening to the peace and stability and will bring new tragedies that the region was fed up and suffered a lot. They supported that all countries should be part of EU and NATO as per aspirations of each one.
5. When the question is about European future, all participants of the region expressed disappointment with the latest decision of EU to not accession talks for Albania and North Macedonia, but yet remained hopeful reminding Martin Luther King statement that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
6. Participants indicated the instability in women’s empowerment in government along with the lack of sustainability in the strategic empowerment of women to run the country or the society, for the fact that women’s participation remains only in numbers/quantity while women’s perspective and quality is yet a matter of discussion.
7. Regarding women’s equal access to justice, participants called for justice reforms to continue in line with European standards and, greater women’s participation to be ensured whith more support for women’s access to justice through affirmative measures and mediation tools.They called for international justice to be established by seeking from the UN Secretary General to prepare a report about the women raped during the conflicts in Balkans and the perpetrators to be punished. They also called for transitional justice to be more effective in redressing victims and restoring their dignity.
8. Women from across the region, emphasized that investing in empowerment of women is one of strategic priorities which can help maximize human resources in building a just, peaceful, prosperous and democratic future. Despite the fact that the current situation in the region has discouraging impact on gender equality, women continue to show sufficient strength to strive and engage in building a gender inclusive peaceful future, and they deserve all support from local, national and international levels.
Participants from Western Balkans included: Edita Tahiri, Chair of Regional Women’s Lobby (RWLSEE), Former Deputy Prime Minister & Peace Negotiator, Kosovo; Gordana Sobol, RWL SEE Steering Committee Member, Former MP and Chairwoman of the Mandate and Immunity Committee, Croatia; Sonja Biserko, RWLSEE Steering Committee Member, Director of Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, Serbia; Eglantina Gjermeni, RWL SEE Steering Committee Member, Member of Parliament, Head of the Parliamentary Sub-Commission for Gender Equality, Albania; Irina Pockova, RWL SEE Steering Committee Member, Member, Former Chairperson of Women’s Chapter of SDA political party, Macedonia; Memnuna Zvizdić, RWLSEE Steering Committee Member, Former Executive Director “Žene Ženama”, Bosnia and Herzegovina; Luljeta Vuniqi, RWLSEE Member, Former Ambassador of Kosovo in Budapest; Savka Todorovska, RWLSEE Member, President, “National Council of Women”, Macedonia; Eni Cobani, RWLSEE Member; Lawer, Mediator, Proffesor, Albania; Mirela Arqimandriti, RWLSEE Member, Executive Director “Gender Alliance for Development Center”; Members of Parliament from Serbia: Snežana Paunović (SPS), Nataša Mihajlović (SDPS), Gordana Čomić (DS); Olena Papuga (LSV); Members of Parliament from Kosovo: Hykmete Bajrami (LDK); Xhevahire Izmaku (PDK), (PDK); Time Kadrijaj (AAK), Mexhide Mjaku-Topalli (PDK), Lirije Kajtazi (LDK); (RCC); Edith Harxhi, Executive Director, Albanian Policy Center; Former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs; Natalia Peral, Negotiation, Conflict Resolution, Policy Expert and Independent Consultant for RWLSEE; Arjeta Rexha, RWLSEE member, Executive Director, Gender Training and Resource Center, Prishtina; Diana Çekaj-Berisha, RWLSEE Coordinator, Arbresha Dedinja, RWLSEE Project Assistant; Nita Bakalli-Istrefi, External Consultant, RWLSEE.
Regional Women’s Lobby in Southeast 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 Çekaj-Berisha, RWLSEE Coordinator at email: firstname.lastname@example.org