The Regional Women’s Lobby of South Eastern Europe (RWL SEE) is a regional women’s peacebuilding organization working to support gender equality and women’s empowerment in politics, peace, security and justice processes. It aims to help building a peaceful, democratic, prosperous and Euro-Atlantic future for all countries and entire region through having women at the heart of leadership and in decision-making equally with men.
We are women who believe that one must work for peace – a peace that is based on values of justice and reconciliation. Guided by these values and WPS agenda, we established the RWL SEE in 2006, in the aftermath of tragedies and wars that endured in the Balkans during 1989-1999. We are women leaders from politics and civil society coming from seven countries, Kosovo, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and North Macedonia.
The RWLSEE demonstrates how, even in the difficult post-war context, women leaders of the Western Balkans countries succeeded to build a common agenda that focuses more on the future than the past. At the forefront of our agenda is the empowerment of women in decision-making and peace processes, as we believe that women represent strategic value being a half of human capital, with proven capacities to contribute in better peace, democracy and development worldwide.
Today, RWLSEE is recognized as a unique regional women’s organization that, in partnership and with support of UN Women, leads lobbying and advocacy in support of women’s empowerment and consolidation of durable peace in the region. Through workshops, international conferences, interethnic dialogue, and forums it promotes the increased of role of women for sustainable peace and stability in the region, and each country that is represented.
In more than a decade of hard work, our organization has established itself as a visionary women’s voice in the region. We believe that it is necessary to work harder for peace, justice and security, while confronting ethnocentrism and all other forms of radicalism that still prevail. We develop political and ethnic dialogue using European integration processes and best practices to advance democratic processes and development in all countries in the region, in order to speed up the eurointegration process for each of them.
We moved beyond the controversies of the past while struggling through paradoxes that stand in the way of women becoming equal actors with men in building a better world. Our aim is to be known as peacebuilders and democracy-builders. We strongly believe there can be no peace without justice and no democracy without women, for each nation living in peace and equality, side by side in the region and the world.
Time is for power to women; time is for gender equality. The world should accept and recognize that women are emerging force of 21st century. We call for sustainable empowerment of women through embracing democratic values and preventing traditionalism and discrimination shape the policies of gender balance. We also emphasize that women should not be supported as quotas or numbers alone, but rather supported because of their quality and remarkable potential that they can invest for a better world. At the same time, it is on states and societies to invest far more for women’s development and perspectives in all spheres of life, including politics, economy, security, academia, civil society organizations and so on.
We consider that the debate on the empowerment of women should be reconceptualized in line with women as game changers and as factors of democratic change and peace-drivers. We should rethink strategies to have women’s agenda at the front of national, regional and international agendas.
The RWLSEE represents a successful model of regional cooperation in building peace which can be used as a model for peace processes in other parts of the world. It promotes just peace and reconciliation in post-conflict settings, support for establishing international justice for women war victims of sexual violence in the Western Balkans and beyond, and for Euro-Atlantic future of all countries in the region.
The RWLSEE enjoys the support of many international partners including UN Women, as a strategic partner, the Swedish Government and its Embassy in Kosovo, the Finish and Norway Embassies in Kosovo, UNDP, and other UN agencies. Nevertheless, our financial resources remain rather modest in comparison to our commitment and capacities in delivering more of our mission. We are grateful for their meaningful support.
Finally, I would like to emphasize that our work can further advance with increased support from international donors. I take this opportunity to invite all international donors to support the mission of the RWLSEE.