Landlocked and located in the central Balkans, Kosovo1 is home to some 1.9 million people. A candidate for future European Union enlargement, it is still undergoing post-conflict transformation more than 15 years after hostilities ceased in 1999. Kosovo faces many gender equality challenges in leadership and political participation, the economy, ending violence against women and in peace and security.
Traditional views on gender roles have left women in Kosovo under-represented in decision-making at all levels, including the security sector, although some major improvements have led to more women in the Kosovo Police.
Survivors of conflict-related sexual violence remain stigmatized, and a culture of shame and silence surrounds the issue. Recently, significant progress has been achieved in this field and in March 2014 the Kosovo Assembly approved Law No. 04/L-172, which legally recognizes victims of sexual violence during the armed conflict in Kosovo.
Violence against women in Kosovo is common. In a 2008 survey, 46 per cent of women said they’d suffered domestic violence at least once; men commit 91 per cent of all domestic violence cases. Although the Law on Protection against Domestic Violence and the National Programme on Protection against Domestic Violence are fairly comprehensive, implementation is a challenge. There are shelters for women and children who have suffered gender-based violence, but both shelters and rehabilitation and reintegration services are sorely under-funded.
Little has been done to address a persistent gender pay gap and improve Kosovo women’s access to entrepreneurship services and credit. Less than 10 per cent of businesses in Kosovo are owned or led by women. Access to credit or loans is a major obstacle impeding the growth of businesses led or owned by women and one of the main root causes is the lack of property owned by women. Although the law treats men and women equally over property rights, women often forfeit their inheritance in favour of their brothers to protect family interests. In 2014, women owned only 8 per cent of properties and land, leaving men in control of 92 per cent of all properties in Kosovo2.
UN Women has worked in Kosovo since 1999 to foster gender equality, women’s empowerment and make gender equality central to the work of other UN agencies in Kosovo. UN Women contributed to the existing legislation on gender equality and women’s empowerment and to the establishment of gender mechanisms at local and central levels. In 2002, UN Women facilitated the development and later the implementation of the National Action Plan for the Achievement of Gender Equality which set an example for similar action plans on gender equality in Albania, Monte Negro, Serbia and Macedonia. Importantly for Kosovo, UN Women has also promoted to governments and civil society women’s participation in conflict prevention and resolution, decision-making and to ensure their access to justice
In recent years, UN Women in Kosovo has collaborated closely with civil society, government and women’s groups to support activities and programmes that focus on:
It has also helped the Kosovar Agency for Gender Equality (AGE) develop a strategic working plan and organize gender-related trainings for government institutions.
 All references to Kosovo on this website should be understood to be in the context of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999)