Peace and security and engendering humanitarian action

Photo: UN Women/ Art Murtezai 

Kosovo 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. Survivors of conflict-related sexual violence remain stigmatized, and a culture of shame and silence surrounds the issue.

Conflict and crises have devastating consequences and often exacerbate gender inequality between women and men. Aside from being targeted through war tactics, such as sexual violence, women and children frequently make up the majority of displaced and refugee populations.

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.

Women’s participation is vital to effective and sustainable peace. Yet, though women have led peace movements and driven community recovery after conflict, they are almost completely missing from peace and reconstruction negotiations. This exclusion limits their access to opportunities to recover, gain justice for human rights abuses, and participate in shaping reformed laws and public institutions.

Since 1999, UN Women has promoted to governments and civil society women’s participation in conflict prevention and resolution, decision-making and to ensure their access to justice. UN Women in Kosovo collaborates closely with civil society, government and women’s groups to support activities and programmes that focus on peace and security and engendering humanitarian action.

UN Women peace and security programmes are guided by a series of international commitments to human rights. These include the Beijing Platform for Action, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325. Adopted in 2000, UNSCR 1325 calls for women to participate in peace building, be better protected from human rights violations, and have access to justice and services to eliminate discrimination.

UN Women in Action in Kosovo

  • UN Women has led the promotion of UNSCR 1325 in the Western Balkans and in Kosovo since 2003. In 2003 and 2004, UN Women brought together women across all sectors from the Western Balkan countries to introduce them with UNSCR 1325 and to support them in identifying the necessary actions for implementing the resolution. In addition UN Women supported women’s organizations in Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina to monitor the implementation of the UNSCR 1325 and to develop an Action Plan on 1325 in Kosovo and Serbia. UN Women also supported their implementation.
  • UN Women, one of the key actors in implementing UNSCR 1325, has worked closely with the government to draft and implement the National Action Plan to Achieve Gender Equality. To facilitate this, UN Women brought together women from politics, government, civil society and the media and created dialogues with wider audiences in Kosovo. The passing into law of these plans led to the establishment the inter-ministerial gender working group, the Ombudsperson’s Gender Unit and the Agency for Gender Equality (AGE) and the creation and funding of municipal and ministerial gender officers.

UN Women provided legal consultants to support the creation of AGE under the office of the Prime Minister. It trained AGE staff and ministerial and municipal gender officers, and helped AGE develop and monitor the Kosovo Programme for Gender Equality.

UN Women worked closely with the government on the Action Plan on the Implementation of UNSCR 1325. Launched by the Agency for Gender Equality on 7 March 2014, the plan includes three outcomes: increasing women’s participation in decision-making; integrating a gender perspective in the security sector and increasing the number of women in security structures; and providing redress to survivors of conflict related sexual violence.

UN Women successfully advocated for the legal recognition of survivors of conflict related sexual violence as civilian victims and is now supporting development of legislation to ensure the law is implemented. UN Women is also continuing work to raise awareness of conflict-related sexual violence and to strengthen the capacities of all relevant stakeholders, particularly judges, investigators and prosecutors of sexual violence war crimes.

  • Women in Kosovo Police: UN Women supported gender-sensitive police reform in Kosovo that establishes a Kosovo Police that can ensure women’s rights and security and mainstream gender into policies and procedures. UN Women also supported the institutionalization of Gender Equality and Women’s Human Security in the training curricula of Kosovo Police Academy, and the establishment of the Human Rights and Gender Equality office within Kosovo Police.

    In 2012, UN Women supported the establishment of the Association of Women in the Kosovo Police (AWKP). UN Women has supported the AWKP in developing its capacity since then in a way that today they are an independent and sustainable organization. AWKP currently has over 600 members from across Kosovo including uniformed and civil staff of both genders and is a member of the International Association of Women Police, which has deemed it a role model for the region.

    UN Women also helped AWKP fundraise for other projects, such as the Women in Uniform project. Funded by the Embassy of Norway, Women in Uniform includes women from the Kosovo Police, Kosovo Protection Corps, Customs and Women from Correctional Service Centres, and promotes gender mainstreaming throughout the security sector.

  • Security and Gender Group: UN Women chairs the Security and Gender Group (SGG), a multi-stakeholder group established in 2007. SGG coordinates women, peace and security actions. Its current members include:
    • civil society organizations: Kvinna till Kvinna, Kosova Women’s Network, Kosovo Gender Studies Centre, Association of Women in the Kosovo Police
    • Kosovo Institutions: Agency for Gender Equality, Women’s Caucus, Kosovo Police, Kosovo Security Forces
    • International Organizations: UN Women, UNDP, UNICEF, UN-HABITAT, OHCHR, UNFPA, WHO, UNOPS, UNHCR, UNMIK, EU Office, EULEX, OSCE and KFOR.

The SGG has marked International Women’s Day, organized joint campaigns for the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence, issued joint statements, and organized public consultations. The group has two functioning sub-groups, one on gender based violence and one on conflict related sexual gender based violence.

  • Regional Women’s Lobby for Peace, Security and Justice in Southeast Europe (RWL SEE): A unique regional women’s organization in Southeast Europe that advocates and lobbies for women, peace and security at local, national and regional levels.

Members are prominent and influential women in politics and women’s human rights activists from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia who are committed to inclusive human security, breaking the barriers of ethnocentric politics, the promotion of women's rights and gender equality, and women’s participation in decision-making processes. The Chair of RWL SEE is Edita Tahiri, Minister for Dialogue, Kosovo, ex Deputy Prime Minister of Kosovo and Chief Negotiator to Implement the Brussels Dialogue.

UN Women was a driving force to establish RWL SEE in 2006. Since then, it’s provided technical, financial and professional expertise via high level political meetings with national, regional and international politicians and others. UN Women also helps organise RWL SEE’s regional and international Conferences, roundtables, dialogues and meetings.

RWL SEE regularly meets to recommend ways to increase women’s role in peace and security in the Balkans:

  • RWL SEE organized inter-ethnic roundtables bringing together women Members of Parliament from Kosovo and Serbia, thus promoting issues of common concern for women that transcend ethnicity and nationality.

    In Saranda, Albania in September 2014, its members reiterated the importance of the EU integration process and the implementation of the Brussels Agreement and supported the dialogue between women MPs from Kosovo and Serbia.

    In May 2015, RWL SEE organized regional roundtable dialogues in the northern part of Kosovo (Mitrovica) to hear the concerns of women and the Serb community regarding education, employment and security. The aim was to establish cooperation between Albanian and Serb women from the northern part of Kosovo. Regional roundtables have also been held in other municipalities of Kosovo with a majority of Serb communities to inform women leaders about the Brussels Agreement and EU Integration.

  • Members routinely engage with EU representatives in the Western Balkans and advocate for women’s inclusion in all decision-making processes in the region.