President Osmani's address at the “The role of women in the defense and security sector” conference

Very respectable participants,
Honourable Minister of Defense Mr. Mehaj,
Honourable Minister of Interior Mr. Sveçla,
Honourable representative of the United Nations, Mrs. Richardson,
Honourable representatives of institutions, in particular representatives of the Kosovo Security Force, members of the Kosovo Police and other security institutions!

It is a pleasure to be with you today, and I thank you all for inviting us to mark together the anniversary of United Nations Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. I am here today, at this conference of yours on the role of women in the fields of security and defense, precisely because I am convinced that without complete and equal participation of women we will never be able to guarantee lasting peace and security.

Girls and women not only make up half of society and as such, are an important axis for creating, preserving and promoting society's values, including their role in promoting peace, maintaining security, and in defense-related policies. 

For this reason, I believe that today as we talk about this role, we must understand that the promotion of women's decision-making power in this strategic sector, also includes the means through which we can measure the development of democracy in our country, and pinpoints the necessary guarantees for the implementation of our democratic principles and values, guaranteed initially in the constitution of our Republic and in our laws, and then recognized as applicable in Resolution 1325.

Being myself a woman entrusted with state responsibilities in the field of security and defense, I strongly believe that the empowerment of women in decision-making in the areas covered by this resolution, means above all continued promotion of the role of girls and women in society because their power in decision-making is not only visible, but in most cases it is decisive and determinative towards the direction of just policies.

Honourable participants!

Although we still have a lot of work ahead of us, it is evident that Kosovo has made progress in ensuring women's participation in decision-making, but also in implementing defense and security policies. From the Law on Gender Equality to the National Development Strategy, and many other documents and agreements previously drafted and to be drafted from now on, regulations in our country speak of equal opportunities for girls and women in society. Often the reality however is quite the opposite.

Although the representation of women is said to be guaranteed in most of the country's institutions, they face many problems, through various forms of discrimination. But, I always say that sometimes it is society itself that is emancipating even faster than institutions. It was the citizens of Kosovo who with the results of their vote believed that a woman could be their Supreme Commander. When they believe such a thing, it means that they trust the women in any other post; in security institutions and beyond because professions have no gender and that all profession are suitable and women will also excel in them. 

So, today we find women and girls everywhere, although in much smaller numbers than they deserve, starting from the police and in leading roles in ministries, in the Police Inspectorate, in the Forensics Agency, in the Intelligence Service, in the Public Safety Training Academy, in the Courts, in the Correctional Service and above all in the Kosovo Security Force where they make us proud.

Also, they are really developing the profile of the military and are excelling in every mission and every commitment within and abroad, always ready to serve their homeland with honour and bravery, alongside their male counterparts, but also in taking over new responsibilities in the command structures of these forces and being part of the operations which enhance these forces. I want to congratulate all of them, led by General Irfete Spahiu, for the pride you are giving to us and for the security you are creating for us.

But, I cannot go further without mentioning that the participation of girls in the KSF continues to be extremely small. Today, no more than 7-8 percent of our forces are girls and women of our country. Although this is a challenge worldwide, not only here in Kosovo, we need to see an extremely rapid change in this regard. Not because gender equality sounds good, but because the higher the participation of girls and women in the Security Forces, both in our country and in the world,  the higher is the guarantee of lasting peace and long-term security. The challenges of our days are becoming more and more complex and national, as well as global problems need a balanced approach, well thought-out strategies and comprehensive policies. These are possible only when we work to implement gender equality in every field, inclusive of the fields of defense and security. Because serving your country, whether in the KSF, police force or in other security institutions, is the noblest act and the greatest honour in a person's life. Therefore, I wish that based on this premise and our common will to continuously improve the well-being of our societies, that the participation of girls and women will continue to grow – and that we shall continuously remain on this path!

Dear women participants!

The engagement of women in Kosovo’s state-building history and life in a secure state, in which equality and harmony are vital to the building of a healthy society, has been extremely important. Very little is said about the role of women in building freedom and building our state. But, that role has been and remains irreplaceable. However, this does not mean that the challenges have been overcome. Women in Kosovo today, as I said, still face many challenges, from creating opportunities to participate to their active representation in decision-making. Well, this is a challenge for the whole of our society.

But, as the example of each of you proves, the determination, dedication, knowledge and perseverance to achieve in life, serves as a model for every young woman to see herself in decision-making, not only about her life but also for the democratic and dynamic life of our state. You are an example of overcoming of the challenges, clichés, fighting stigma, as well as for the achievements in professional life and, therefore, you also deserve all our respect.

However, your example should also serve as an impetus to ensure that professional development and career achievements are given equally to every single citizen of our country and that competitiveness is treated outside the clichés and abusive policies against one gender.

As President of the country, I want to assure you that I will continue to support every initiative and every effort aimed at further strengthening the position of women in society, in particular their participation in political decision-making and in security institutions as well as giving a stronger role in any other field by ensuring the increase of their presence in public activities.

This is our day-to-day dedication, together with the government, with the institutions, but also with the civil society, with the organizations that deal with the protection of women's rights and freedoms, in order to create the necessary mechanisms that avoid the barriers that prevent professional and political engagement of women. 

Our society must continue to address the challenges posed by guaranteeing security and respect for women's rights. Whether domestic violence or the consequences of thereof or lack of justice for victims of wartime sexual violence and of the general protection of their rights, they cover more than just property and inheritance issues or quota issues. Ensuring that women and girls are protected and have equal access to justice is a vital obligation for the development of a society and of a state.

Finally, the need to strengthen our engagement in the full implementation of Resolution 1325 is becoming more and more urgent. We provide the best results in this direction only through continuous coordination and cooperation. Therefore, the doors of the Presidency will always be open for cooperation in this regard. I am convinced that now is the time for policies and transformative engagement to ensure gender equality and the achievement of the objectives of Resolution 1325. Therefore, to discuss in more detail how we will proceed –  I will be pleased to invite you and meet you very soon at the Summit for Women, Peace and Security we will be organising next year for the first time in Kosovo and will include guests not only from Kosovo but from around the world and together we will transform jointly, I hope very much with the cooperation and support of each of you, we will transform our country into an example for the augmentation and equality of women in every sector and in particular in sectors of peace and security. Thanking you all for the cooperation so far, I hope that in the next recruitment within the Kosovo Security Force we will have as many girls and women as possible and as you have made each of us proud so far, the new recruits make you proud too!

Thank you!

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