The Regional Women’s Lobby in South East Europe (RWLSEE) is a regional peacebuilding organization dedicated to empowering women in politics, decision-making and peacebuilding and to building a peaceful, just, prosperous, and Euro-Atlantic future for our countries and region of Western Balkans.
RWLSEE is established in 2006 by women leaders from politics and civil society from seven countries of Western Balkans with support of UN Women (then UNIFEM). It presents a unique regional organization of women committed to work together for advancing peace and gender equality in a highly challenging post-conflict context of our region. It operates in seven focus countries, Kosovo, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Albania, Montenegro and North Macedonia, from where its membership comes from.
Our goal is to empower women’s leadership and equal participation in politics, decision making, peace, security and justice processes, given that gender equality and equal power sharing between women and men is the only way leading towards good governance, sustainable peace and development, which is much needed in our post-conflict region. We believe in strategic potentials of women as peace drivers and good governance drivers; hence, we work for having women at the heart of leadership and deciding equally with men for a better future.
The RWLSEE considers that underrepresentation of women in peacebuilding and democratic governance in the Western Balkans and beyond is not only unjust but also wrong, because women represent a half of human capacity and should be recognized as a strategic asset for a better future. The striking absence of women from decision making and formal peace negotiations reveals a troubling gap between the aspirations and the reality we live today. We remain firm to change this reality in favor of women.
RWLSEE is dedicated to gender inclusive peace, justice and security and European and Euro-Atlantic integration of our countries and region through equal participation of women. We support peace process in the region with focus on open bilateral issues, inter-ethnic tensions and political crisis, through promoting equal participation of women in peace processes at all levels and, particularly in formal peace negotiations for ensuring more durable peace. We are specifically focused on trust-building, reconciliation and for establishing international justice for women victims of war rape in the Western Balkans. We aim at having countries live side by side in equality and good neighborhood, in democracy, justice and reconciliation, while tragic history is put behind but not forgotten.
RWLSEE stands that more women in decision-making, democratic governance and peacebuilding can result in more peace, stability and prosperity. Our engagement in this mission integrates the multiple paths to peace and democracy. We promote and mediate inclusive political and peacebuilding processes by ensuring the meaningful participation of women and other relevant stakeholders in inter-ethnic dialogues, roundtables and international conferences. We are also focused in capacity building for young women helping to capacitate them in leadership and mediation and closing the intergenerational gap. Our specific characteristic is that we offer regional platform, thus providing regional experience sharing (from our membership) in searching for solutions.
The agenda of RWLSEE includes gaps that stand in the way of regional progress. This includes gaps in state building and peacebuilding in the region, including gender inequality, unfinished peace, fragile democratic governance, fragile justice and security, weak economy, incomplete transitional justice, incomplete normalization of neighborly relations, autocracy, corruption, unemployment, migration and, other socio economic issues and slow pace of EU and Euro-Atlantic reforms.
In this unprecedented times of pandemics COVID-19, RWLSEE has contextualized this year’ action plan to include peacebuilding and pandemics and, online capacity building services to young women for leadership and mediation through its platform – The Regional Academy for Women in Leadership and Mediation.
Today, the RWLSEE is a recognized as an effective model of regional cooperation among women in post-conflict setting, seasoned peacebuilders and activities which strives for strengthening of gender equality and equal participation of women in decision-making, peacebuilding and other spheres of life. The RWLSEE demonstrates how, even in the difficult post-war context in which challenges are even more complex, women leaders across borders and across ethnic lines can succeed to build and work for a common agenda for the future.
We are inspired and work for Women, Peace and Security agenda. We aim at accelerating implementation of UNSCR 1325 and other deriving resolutions at national and local level, as well as other UN instruments and international platforms for empowerment of women, gender equality and women’s rights, including the UN Beijing Platform (1995), CEDAW, 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, European Policies on Gender Equality, National Action Plans.
In this challenging journey we are together with our supporters, with UN Women, UN Women ECA and UN Women Kosovo as our strategic partners, the Swedish Government and Swedish Embassy in Kosovo as our main financial supporters and others such as Finish Embassy in Kosovo, Norway Embassy in Kosovo, UNDP and other UN and international organizations. We could not have come this far without their precious support.
Today, 20 years after the adoption of the UNSC 1325 and 25 years after the Beijing Platform, regrettably, there is lack of sufficient political will and financing for supporting the implementation legal frameworks on gender equality at international and national levels. This unfortunate reality must change. The time has come for power to women, for our dream of gender equality to come true. The paradigm of the 21st century cannot neglect the emerging force of women for a better future.
OUR MAJOR IMPACTS FOR IMPROVING LIVES OF WOMEN AND PEACE
Our work started under a very specific post-war conditions when women were put in sidelines of political and peacebuilding processes, despite their vital role in peacemaking and sacrifices in the movements for freedom, independence and democracy of countries during latest wars and conflicts in the Balkans.
In over 14 years of our work, the RWLSEE succeeded to:
- influenced significant changes in favor of women political empowerment in decision making and peacebuilding throughout the region
- engaged, encouraged, consolidated self-confidence and supported inclusion of women in politics and democratic governance as well as in gender responsive policies and actions in our focus countries
- we supported peace, trust-building and reconciliation through our ideas and actions, through providing platforms for inter-ethnic dialogues on reconciliation and ways of breaking the war legacy of inter-ethnic mistrust
- significantly contributed to the long-term development of peace-oriented societies by promoting culture of peace and peaceful resolution of conflicts and, arguing legitimacy of gender equality for achieving sustainable peace and development as a best way for effective conflict management
- supported peace processes in the region and lobbied for meaningful participation of women in formal peace talks, including Vienna status talks on Kosovo, Brussels Dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, Prespa Agreement on name dispute between Macedonia and Greece
- with our bottom-up approach through regional cooperation, we worked for localization of peacebuilding including mediation, as a foundation for sustainable and gender inclusive peacebuilding
- promoted gender responsive rule of law, justice, security and economy as relevant pillars of democratic state building
- advocated and fostered transitional justice and sought international justice from UN for conflict related victims of sexual violence in Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia.
- promoted and shared experiences internationally of the RWLSEE, as a model of regional networking and cooperation in empowering women and peacebuilding