Press release: Regional Academy Leadership Training Program – Empowering Young Leaders for Change


(16 December 2021) – The Regional Women’s Lobby in South East Europe (RWLSEE), with support of UN Women and Swedish Government, is holding Leadership Training Program of the Regional Academy for Women Leadership and Mediation (RAWLM) in a virtual format, via zoom. This year’s event marks the second stage of RAWLM Academy on topic “Empowering young leaders for change” which is at the core of the capacity building mission of the RWLSEE and the Academy itself.

The aim of Leadership Training Program (LTP) is to provide young women leaders the knowledge and tools to perform leadership in the fields of their work, in government or civil society engagement, with the goal of delivering positive changes for a public good and beneficial to all.

The strategic goals are to promote empowerment of young women through capacity building in leadership in politics, peace and security processes as well as promote regional networking among them for getting encouraged and involved in building a better future for all. They will learn from women senior leaders of the region and international experts about importance, challenges and opportunities for engaging in politics and peacebuilding.

A specific objective will be to capacitate young women to play a role and influence gender inclusive socio-economic recovery from COVID-19, having in mind impacts of pandemics in worsening gender and other inequalities. It also aims at promoting WPS and YPS Agenda of UN Women in regional, national, and local levels.

This activity is in line with UN Women agenda, the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda and the UNSCR Resolution 1325 (2000), Youth, Peace and Security and (YPS) and the UNSCR Resolution 2250 (2015) – a ground breaking resolution on Youth, Peace and Security which recognizes that “young people play an important and positive role in the maintenance and promotion of international peace and security”, and other related resolutions, Generation Equality, Agenda 2030 of SDG Goals and, the RWLSEE mission and its shared commitments with the WPS-HA Compact of Paris Forum on Generation Equality and recovery from Covid-19.

RAWLM Academy is capacity building project with regional scope aiming to capacitate and encourage young women for leadership and mediation with focus in politics, decision making and peacebuilding and, in COVID-19 response and recovery and the activity ‘Leadership Training Program of RAWLM’ is part of the Phase V Project on “Women’s political empowerment, participation in and contribution to peace, security processes and COVID-19 Response and Recovery in the Western Balkans”, supported by the Swedish Government and UN Women.

The opening of Regional Academy for Women Leadership and Mediation (RAWLM) started with plenary sessions by remarks of Edita Tahiri, Chair of RWLSEE and Diana Cekaj-Berisha UN Women Project Manager and RWLSEE Coordinator.

Edita Tahiri, RWLSEE Chair welcomed participants while expressing her satisfaction on increasing interest of young women to get empowered through learning, as a crucial base in their paths of becoming agents of change for a better future. She said that Leadership Training Program of the Regional Academy responds to the needs of young people for achieving capacities in leadership in general and as well as specific areas. “Our aim is to capacitate young leaders to involve in politics, civil society and encourage you to be a driver of peace and reconciliation, while you expand mutual understanding, trust-building and strengthen regional networks. We need you, the youth fresh energy and vision, to build a better future here at our homes, countries and region of the Western Balkans. We need you stay here rather than go abroad in search for hope. Together we can build hope which is vanishing day by day due to misgovernance and nationalism which is stands in the way of progress and prosperity”.

Diana Cekaj-Berisha, UN Women Project Manager and RWLSEE Coordinator, expressed her pleasure to be able to present  a new generations of young women leaders from seven focus countries of RWLSEE, whose empowerment, encouragement and participation in politics and peacebuilding is key to consolidate a region with sustainable peace, democracy and gender equality. She spoke how all this is continuing with the second stage of Academy Project, through the topic of program “Empowering young leaders for change” which is at the core of the capacity building mission of the RWLSEE and the “Regional Academy for Women Leadership and Mediation- RAWLM”  itself.  Cekaj-Berisha welcomed each participant from Kosovo, Croatia, Serbia, BiH, Albania, Montenegro and North Macedonia and wished them a successful traing.

The Leadership Training Program of RAWLM continued with series of training courses by trainers , the RWLSEE Steering Committee Members : Edita Tahiri, RWLSEE Chair, Kosovo, Sonja Biserko RWLSEE Steering Committee Serbia, Nada Dronjak RWLSEE Steering Committee Montenegro, Eglantina Gjermeni RWLSEE Steering Committee Albania, Memnuna Zvizdic RWLSEE Steering Committee Bosnia and Herzegovina, Gordana Sobol RWLSEE Steering Committee Croatia, Irina Pockova RWLSEE Steering Committee North Macedonia and Luljeta Vuniqi and, the guest lecturer Teuta Sahatqija RWLSEE Members from Kosovo.  

In the first day of the Academy, the training courses included: leadership in peace diplomacy, leadership in peace negotiations, leadership in political decision making and leadership in good governance.

Memnuna Zvizdić lectured and trained on Leadership and Peace Diplomacy in the Western Balkans and indicated that the chances for more stable peace and prosperity in the Western Balkans require “local presence” and “local knowledge” and much more introspection of the involvement of all actors involved. She said that both geographically and culturally, this space is on the border of cultures and requires more respect and understanding. Precisely because of its diversity and cultural richness, the Western Balkans, the so-called melting pot-a place where different people live, is always subject to various challenges and is a real test for leadership and peace diplomacy. In conclusion, an approach to building peace and security based primarily on wisdom and a good understanding of people, their needs and interests, as well as a balance between short-term and long-term priorities, would provide a chance for “diversity to survive” in today’s world order, said Zvizdiv. In the exercises part she presented the case study of the Dayton Accord, and in interactive discussions with students they discussed pros and cons of the decision of the Bsonian Delegation to accept the agreement.

Edita Tahiri focused her lecture on the models of leadership, while discussing with students which leadership is preferred by young people, emphasizing core values that a good leader must have. She then moved to exercises about leadership and negotiation skills in peace negotiations, presenting as the case study of ‘the Rambouillet Peace Agreement’ in terms of issues, positions, interests, BATNA of parties and final decisions by both parties. She explained that BATNA of the oppressed party is much poorer because in absence of peace agreement, it means continuation of war and more killings to their people. Whereas, the BATNA of the oppressor side is much wider, as they try to win the war and defeat the oppressed side by more killings. She further explained why Kosovo side signed the Rambouillet Agreement saying that it was providing for ending killings against Albanians while placing Kosovo under the NATO protectorate and leaving the door open to independence of Kosovo. The Serbia/FRY side declined signing the peace agreement because they were against the NATO protectorate over Kosovo and against the door open principle on the final status of Kosovo. She also elaborated the position of international mediators, the US and EU partners signed the peace agreement, whereas Russia signed only political part and declined security part of the peace agreement as it was against any involvement of NATO in Kosovo. She stated further, that thanks to US and NATO military intervention against Serbia/FRY, it was possible to establish peace in Kosovo and end war and genocide against Albanians.

Eglantina Gjermeni lectured on Leadership and Decision-making and said that some data about women’s participation in leadership positions at the global level show that even though there is noticed an increase of women in leadership positions, still women are underrepresented at all levels of decision-making.  The importance of women’s participation in leadership positions in public and political decision-making, their contribution and impact on parliaments central/local government, and policymaking were discussed through this session. Gender quota as a temporary mechanism to address gender inequalities in decision-making was analyzed, and arguments “pro” and “con” were discussed together with all participants. There were shared positive experiences/good initiatives of women leaders addressing gender inequalities, representing women’s needs and interests as well as other groups in need from different countries of the region.  Supporting women in politics, in decision-making structures through different initiatives were discussed as very important components of empowering women to empower other women and girls. 

Nada Drobjnak on her lecture said that Leadership and Good governance are among the basic components of social life. Leadership is the ability to influence others to achieve goals and, among other things, it is characterized by the mutual influence between leaders and followers. “Governance involves the interaction between formal institutions and people, between people themselves and the way decisions are made and implemented. Good governance means creating an environment that is inclusive, sensitive and responsible for people’s needs and effective for many of the challenges it faces. Leadership is key to improving people’s lives and achieving the goals of good governance.” Lastly, good governance is an ideal that is difficult to achieve as a whole, but in order to ensure sustainable human development, actions must be taken to achieve this goal.

The Regional Academy will continue with Leadership Training Program tomorrow, with lecturing and trainings on the topics included: “Leadership in Peacebuilding and Reconciliation”, “Leadership in Politics and Decision-Making”, “Leadership in Peace Diplomacy”, “Leadership in Negotiation”, “Leadership in Good Governance “, “Leadership in Parliaments and Parliamentary Diplomacy”, “Leadership in Economy” and “Politics and Sociology of Leadership” and a guest lecture on “Women and Digital World”

The event brought together young women, from seven focus countries of Western Balkans including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and high-profile women leaders’ members of the RWLSEE. The LTP is attended by: Egzona Bokshi, Elona Cecelia, Era Mullademi, Njomza Mehani and Nita Bakalli-Istrefi from Kosovo; Dajana Ivicic, Tamara Vukicevic, Helena Mikulandra and Zrinka Boric from Croatia; Stanka Lazarevic, Ksenija Markovic, Dzenana Rudonja, Maja Bjelos, Petra Kerleta, Ivana Jovanovic dhe Azra Seta-Hadzic from Serbia; Leona Lihovic, Anja Ljubojevic, Selma Alispahic , Adna Kujan and Nermina Dziho from Bosnia and Herzegovina; Egida Delibashi, Lubjana Malaj, Ardjana Ismajli, Aida Mufali, Kejsi Çakani and Sara Bilelli from Albania; Antonella Balic, Luljeta Sefa, Mia Zekovic, Tamara Pavicevic, Vesna Femic, Valentina Demija , Irma Skrijelj and Sejla Pepic from Montenegro; Tea Zografska, Vlora Akiki, Fatime Tale,  Elizabeta Jovancevska, Viktorija Janakievska, Verica Stojkovska, Valentina Angelova, Sonja Naskova dhe Sasha Micevska from North Macedonia.  

We will keep you informed on the proceedings of second day the next press releases to follow.

For further information, please contact Diana Çekaj-Berisha, at email: 

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