Kosovo promotes sport as a powerful vehicle to drive social change

Marking the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, girls and boys from different communities in Kosovo demonstrated how sport can promote gender equality and peace at the “Sport for Peace” event organized by UN Women and the Kosovo Football Federation.

Date: Saturday, April 6, 2019

UN Development Coordinator Ulrika Richardson addresses the participating girls and boys. Photo: UN Women in Kosovo
UN Development Coordinator Ulrika Richardson in Kosovo addresses the participating girls and boys. Photo: UN Women in Kosovo

Recognizing the power of sport to foster peace and understanding, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 6 April as the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace in 2013. To mark this day, UN Women and the Kosovo[1] Football Federation organized the “Sport for Peace” event, where girls and boys from different communities in Kosovo showed how sport can strengthen social ties by bringing people together regardless of gender, religion, age, ethnicity and socioeconomic status.

As part of the event, girls and boys were divided into a number of groups to complete different exercises before coming all together for the final game of the day.

"Sports knows no boundaries – it is a universal language of cooperation and solidarity based on core values of teamwork, fairness and respect,” said Ulrika Richardson, United Nations Development Coordinator in Kosovo. "There is a unique potential of sports that has been recognized within the Sustainable Development Goals. Through sports, young people in Kosovo can develop their potential and realize their dreams," she added.

Bekim Rexhepi, member of the Executive Committee of Kosovo Football Federation and Fitim Rexha, Director for Sports in the Municipality of Pristina, pointed out the importance of investing in sport for social development and bringing about peace.

Participants get ready to start the match. Photo: UN Women in Kosovo
Participants get ready to start the match. Photo: UN Women in Kosovo

The event also aimed to show how sport can contribute to breaking down gender stereotypes and socio-cultural expectations of girls and women. The organizers and participants promoted the idea that sport serves as a vehicle to advance gender equality by developing leadership skills, overcoming gender norms and improving health.

“Sport has the power to transform lives as it shapes attitudes towards women’s capabilities as leaders and decision-makers,” UN Women Head of Office, Vlora Nushi emphasized, adding, “the acquisition of valuable skills in management, conflict-resolution and decision-making through sport empowers women and girls to become leaders in all areas of society and life.”

The right to participate in sport is recognized in a number of international documents. In 1978, UNESCO described sport and physical education as a "fundamental right for all," while article 13 of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) prescribes “the right to participate in recreational activities, sports and all aspects of cultural life.”

This event is organized within the joint United Nations “Empowering Youth for a Peaceful, Prosperous, and Sustainable Future in Kosovo” project, supported by United Nations Peacebuilding Fund.

[1] All references to Kosovo shall be understood to be in full compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999).