Beyond Four Walls: Kosovo women challenge "taking care of the house" myth on International Women’s Day

26 Mar 2024

Beyond Four Walls: Kosovo women challenge "taking care of the house" myth on International Women’s Day

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day “Invest in Women”, resonated powerfully during a recent UNMIK event held in Pristina. The event highlighted reflections on property ownership, resistance to societal norms and economic empowerment.

Poet Rebeka Qena captured the essence of this struggle:

“‘A woman who takes care of her house’ – this phrase hits hard because I know very few women who have their own homes, unfortunately.”

By interweaving social themes with humour, Qena illuminated the stark reality of the male-dominated realm of property ownership in Kosovo, where only 19 per cent of properties are held by women.

Qena was one of six poets who spoke during the event that also featured keynote speeches from partners and a fair showcasing products made by women-led businesses.

UNMIK Deputy SRSG Barrie Freeman echoed the urgency of the moment, citing Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s sobering assessment that achieving legal equality could take another 300 years at the current pace.

Against this backdrop, the imperative of financial investment in women emerged as a central theme, as articulated by the Head of UN Women in Kosovo Vlora Nushi. She highlighted the indispensable role of financial support in achieving gender parity, stressing the significance of gender responsive budgeting in collaboration with local municipalities.

The EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) Gender Adviser Chiara Tagliani, also reflected on the much-needed paradigm shift in budgetary practices to dismantle structural inequalities, highlighting economic empowerment as the cornerstone of gender equality. She gave an example of the astounding wage gap in the care sector, where women earn 24 per cent less than men despite constituting nearly 70 per cent of health and care workers globally.

“Our patriarchal structures perpetuate invisible and unacknowledged labor by women,” she said.

The event culminated in a tree-planting ceremony led by gender champions, symbolizing the pressing need for more women in leadership, business, as well as climate change action.

Participants departed with a renewed sense of purpose, infused with the conviction progress lies in investing in women. Their voices, united in solidarity, can certainly pave ways for a new era of empowerment and equality for Kosovo’s women.