Breaking barriers and building peace: 2022 UN Global Open Day in Kosovo calls for advancing women’s political participation

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10 Jun 2022

Breaking barriers and building peace: 2022 UN Global Open Day in Kosovo calls for advancing women’s political participation

I strongly believe in the fact that no peace process can be successful when half of the society is left behind,” said Ms. Vjosa Osmani, President of Kosovo, in her opening remarks at the 2022 Kosovo edition of the UN Global Open Day on Women, Peace and Security.

Noting the importance of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, President Osmani added, “I am convinced that girls and women have the strength, the knowledge, the power and capacity to achieve our common goals. After all, when we increase women's participation in peace and security, we all together increase our chances of securing lasting peace in the world.”

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMIK, Ms. Caroline Ziadeh, acknowledged in her remarks that each and every element of a peace-building process must incorporate the views and priorities of both men and women in all their manifestations.

Breaking barriers is about creating conditions for inclusive societies where peace and stability may thrive in diversity. It is not only about overcoming obstacles to women’s participation - it is also about ensuring paradigm change anchored in partnerships and shared values,” SRSG Ziadeh said.

Read the full statement of SRSG Ziadeh here.

"We remain steadfast in our firm support to all your endeavours to ensure women’s participation, inclusion, and ownership of different processes at central, local and communities’ level.” – Ms. Caroline Ziadeh, SRSG and Head of UNMIK

Following a resilient post-pandemic recovery, the 2022 Kosovo edition of Global Open Day returned with an in-person event, taking forward its important legacy of providing a platform for women’s voices to be heard and strengthening their role and participation in politics, policy and sustainable peace mechanisms.

Under the theme ‘Breaking Barriers and Building Peace: Advancing women’s participation in political processes’, Global Open Day in Kosovo this year featured keynote speeches from speakers including Ms. Ulrika Richardson, United Nations Development Coordinator; Ms. Emilija Redžepi, Deputy Minister for Minority Issues and Human Rights and Ms. Karin Hernmarck Ahliny, Ambassador of Sweden.

There were two engaging panel debates stretching the gamut of local, regional and global issues and experiences. This edition of Global Open Day also incorporated diverse perspectives from women’s rights activists from across Kosovo through a set of Vox Pops.

 "On behalf of the government, the people of Kosovo across ethnic lines, a big thank you for exerting an influence for democratic processes and for a chance for us to be equal and represented without any discrimination. Equality for women is a long battle, we have to be united in our journey to achieve this.” - Ms. Emilija Redžepi, Deputy Minister for Minority Issues and Human Rights.  

Involving women in peace and security is not only the right thing to do, but the best thing to do. It gives the negotiating table a broader understanding of what the conflict is in a larger sense and what sustainable peace should look like.” - Ms. Karin Hernmarck Ahliny, Ambassador of Sweden. 

The Western Balkans have seen a lot of painful moments in the past, but the region has chosen peace as its road and there is no turning back. For that journey to advance properly, women have to be part of it. I’ve been impressed with the quality, determination, passion and dynamism of the women’s movement, not just in Kosovo, but also the entire region.” - Ms. Ulrika Richardson, United Nations Development Coordinator. 

Women leading the way to sustainable peace 

The first panel was an engaging discussion entitled ‘The Importance of Women's Leadership in Sustainable Peace’. The session was moderated by Ms. Vlora Nushi, Head of Office, UN Women in Kosovo.

Global Open Day is a forum to remind ourselves, male leaders and our society that we are here and as representatives of half of the population, we are happy to contribute in building sustainable peace and stability together,” said Ms. Nushi in her opening remarks.

Speakers in the panel included Ms. Gjeraqina Tuhina, RTK Correspondent from Brussels; Ms. Donika Emini, Executive Director, CiviKos; Ms. Jovana Radosavljević, Executive Director, New Social Initiative; and Mr. Shpetim Gashi, Vice President, Council for Inclusive Governance.

The speakers exchanged their views on the importance of women participating meaningfully in political parties, the Dialogue, negotiation table, the media and their experiences in tackling everyday discrimination.

I come from a non-majority community in Kosovo and I run a successful NGO here-a majority of my team is women. I would like to see more movements, groups and organisations take this example moving forward,” said Ms. Radosavljević in her address. She also revealed data (based on a study of 130 peace agreements since 1990, women’s participation in conflict prevention and resolution increases the durability of the agreement), demonstrating that it is not only necessary for women to be represented in political processes but that their participation should be meaningful-as mediators, negotiators and signatories.

“What prevents us from achieving equal opportunities for women?The problem I see is that we are a patriarchal society. Education is the best tool to fight discrimination, starting from the family,” said Mr. Gashi in his address.

Ms. Emini spoke of combating discrimination on a public and private stage and how it is essential to shift the burden on women in politics towards a more holistic approach towards policy and perspectives. “In parliament, we should not demand that women give feminist speeches. They should horizontally include women perspectives in legislations, by-laws, everything,” said Ms. Emini.

Joining on video call from Brussels, Ms. Tuhina reiterated the importance of including women in the Dialogue and also to constantly question those in power to maintain checks and balances.

VoxPop 1 

Concrete solutions for the way forward

We are here to mark 22 years of UN Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security,” said Ms. Barrie Freeman, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (DSRSG), who moderated the second panel at the United Nations Global Open Day on Women, Peace, and Security in Kosovo. The panel was entitled ‘Women’s role in strengthening inclusive decision-making processes.'

I’d like to ask panel members to drill down and share specific examples of addressing the challenges of women’s participation to create concrete recommendations coming out of today’s meeting,” added DSRSG Freeman.

Speakers in the panel included Ms. Luljeta Demolli, Executive Director, Kosovar Gender Studies Centre; Mr. Miodrag Marinković, Program Director, NGO Center for Affirmative Social Action; Ms. Mimoza Gavrani, Executive Director, Kosovo Advocacy Group; and Ms. Vetone Veliu, Executive Director, Mitrovica Women Association for Human Rights.

The speakers discussed an intersectoral approach towards mainstreaming gender diversity in political processes – including women from across ethnic lines such as the Kosovo Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities. The discussions broke down problems on-ground, eventually offering actionable solutions for the way forward.

"Political representatives need to create solid and acceptable mainstream policies that are inclusive for women. And it is important that they have a direct impact on people’s lives,” said Ms. Mimoza Gavrani, Executive Director, Kosovo Advocacy Group. 

Key recommendations by the panelists included the need for mainstream policies that are truly inclusive, creating programmes for young girls which empower them and expose them to political leadership, raising awareness among male politicians, building strong grassroots social pressure and documenting the journey towards equality.

"Peace processes by their very nature should be inclusive, without inclusivity they are just power politics," said DSRSG Freeman as the panel came to a close, noting the constructive exchange of ideas and solutions.

VoxPop 2

In her closing remarks, UNMIK Gender Advisor Javiera Thais Santa Cruz spoke of a more inclusive past, present and future and the ways in which women can ensure durable political solutions and sustainable peace.

Women bring key issues to peacebuilding agendas that would be overlooked without their meaningful participation, such as the inclusivity and accessibility of processes and institutions,” said Ms. Thais Santa Cruz. “There is a lot of talk about having a seat at the decision-making table. What if we also start building bigger tables where all of us can fit?” she added.


Launched in October 2010 by the Department of Peacekeeping, Department of Political Affairs, the United Nations Development Programme and UN Women in commemoration of the tenth anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (WPS), Global Open Day events have served as a unique forum for women’s perspectives on inclusive and sustainable peace, offering an opportunity to review the implementation of the Resolution. Today, Global Open Days are organised worldwide and inform the UN Secretary-General’s annual report on WPS.