The women's movement

In contrast to the Kosovo that is marked by divisions between different ethnic groups, the women’s movement is relatively united. It focuses on issues related to peace and security, and on increasing women’s participation and access to power in society.

The women’s movement is one of the most active and influential elements in Kosovo’s civil society. Most women’s organisations are members of the Kosovo Women’s Network, KWN. The network supports women organising at grassroots level and passes on women’s political messages to decision-makers at national level.

Gradually, women’s organisations have managed to put previously taboo issues on the public agenda, including men’s violence against women, unprocessed war trauma and the difficulty of bridging ethnic tensions after the war.

Women’s organisations have long highlighted the fact that many women who were subjected to sexual violence during the war have never received any form of official recognition and lack access to justice and support. In 2014, the women’s movement managed to get the parliament to amend the legal framework, so that women subjected to conflict related sexual violence now are recognized as war victims, with the same rights to governmental support as war veterans. This is also a key issue in Kosovo’s National Action Plan on UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, adopted the same year.

Women’s organisations have also called for greater efforts by EULEX – the EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo – to investigate cases of war crimes in which sexual violence is suspected to have taken place. It is within EULEX’s mandate to investigate war crimes committed during the war in the 1990s, up until 1999.

Many women’s organisations offer support to women who are victims of gender-based violence, through helplines, shelters, and legal services.

From direct support to meetings across borders

In the years following the war, the women’s movement focused on providing support to women affected by the conflict, and on creating forums to discuss and process war trauma. Women’s organisations were also active in supporting returning refugees, and in putting pressure on public institutions to improve people’s access to running water, sanitation, health care and education.

In more recent years, women’s organisations have shifted their focus and become more politically driven, working with comprehensive advocacy and research on gender, feminism and women’s rights.

Bringing together and promoting understanding between different ethnic groups has long been an important issue for the women’s movement. For example, Serbian women have travelled to Kosovo to meet Kosovo Albanian women from areas that were particularly affected by the war. Another example is the Mitrovica Women Association for Human Rights in northern Kosovo, where women from six different ethnic groups work together for peace, gender equality and women’s rights. Such initiatives are rare yet incredibly important in Kosovo – tensions between different ethnic groups are growing and political leaders have been unable to tackle the problem.

Laws not being implemented

The women’s movement contributed to the government adopting gender equality and anti-discrimination laws. However, so far the legal framework has had limited impact on women’s lives, since the laws are not being fully implemented. One of the biggest challenges facing the women’s movement is to mobilise women so that they continue to demand improvements, monitor the implementation of laws and demand accountability of the country’s decision-makers.

Senast uppdaterad: 2016-07-04