DAY 15
DECEMBER 9, 2012
Role of Women Leaders
Young women leaders of the future

"In a deep understanding, all women somewhere between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five, whether they admit or reject feminism, are the daughters of feminism, who inherit attempts, failures and successes; whether we want or not, they are successors of a bold phase of the contemporary women's movement"

Strong female role models, women who are empowered economically, socially and politically, have an important role to play in reducing the amount of violence experienced by women and girls in society. Women leaders can act as an inspiration to both young girls and young boys, and change societal norms around violence against women.

The increased participation of women in political processes in the post conflict years in Kosovo is proof that the 30 percent gender quota in parliamentary elections has brought positive results. Kosovo is listed among countries with very high representation of women in politics and even exceeds many EU countries in this regard.

The importance of the gender quota becomes even greater when we consider that in the first elections in post-war Kosovo, before the introduction of the quota, only 8.6 per cent of the elected members of the Municipal Assemblies were women.

Many researches and analyses on the political representation of women in Kosovar society show that it is still too early to think that without the application of affirmative action or quotas, women will be represented equally with men.

Kosovar women's political development has faced countless obstacles. In the decades after World War II, the main problems were illiteracy and a patriarchal mentality, while during the 90s, due to disorder in the functioning of life in Kosovo, women had very reduced space for political activity. For this reason, there is a need for continuation of strong institutional measures in order to correct the gaps created by the past.

But what is the situation with the girls and our societies’ investment in their empowerment, especially in the area of politics, which is the area still dominated by men. The gender composition of the government, the presidency of parliament, parliamentary committees and other statistics demonstrate that even after so many years, women political leaders fail to capitalize on the power of the quota to further develop the leadership of women and young girls in politics and other areas of life.

As indicated by current trends, the "magic" of the quota is limited and it does not secure the development of women's political leadership and substantial representation, we need much more than that.

Although we have a number of women leaders in politics that serve as a model and inspiration for future generations, the entire masculine environment and culture of our society narrows the space of strengthening young women in political life.

The lack of women in leadership and decision-making structures of political parties has at least two consequences: the further impoverishment of the opposition in Kosovo and thus delay in the development of democracy and the weakening or marginalization of women in political leadership in general. If there are not investments in new women leaders, politics and political life will be impoverished, reducing us to ‘big party leaders’, leaving us with few alternative choices.

A cynical guardian would say: "What do you women want, you have a woman president, 30 percent of women in Parliament, two deputy prime ministers, ministers, some ambassadors, etc." Of course this is an achievement and progress, but as one activist for women's rights has said: 'activist women have learned a bitter lesson from the past that there is no eternal victory and that there is no retirement in women's issues.' In other words, the struggle for women's equality and human rights is a permanent effort of all generations without any exception.
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DAY 16 // DECEMBER 10, 2012
Media, Gender, and Violence