President Jahjaga’s speech at the meeting of Kosovo Women’s Network and Gender Equality Lobby

I am extremely touched to have here with us today mothers of our martyrs. A very big thank you for coming here today.

Greetings everyone,

Especially you dear sisters and friends,

I am extremely touched to have here with us today mothers of our martyrs. A very big thank you for coming here today.

It is a great pleasure to be here with you today, to spend this before noon together with you, my dear friends. Initially I would like to thank Safete , for a great poem, which carries an exceptional message, and in the lines of which poem each and every one of us can find themselves, in various periods of our history, in various periods through which  we have gone through, as individuals and as a society.

Before I commence with our deliberations, I would like to express my felicitations and gratitude to Igballe Rugova,Igo, for her work, her dedication, and her passion, which is an inspiration, a strong activist for human rights and freedoms, one of feistiest activists who has brought down many barriers in our society and has been a powerful voice of women in our society, in all its municipalities. Igo, thank you for all your work and dedication during all these years, and I would also like to add that we have still work left to do together.

Dear friends,

Kosovo women’s network has always been an important partner of mine, in all the functions I have held so far. This support and this strong partnership between the Women’s Network and myself and my office, has had only one aim, realization of projects, concepts and respective ideas, aiming to advance  and strengthen the role of women in our society.

It is true that not very often there is such good relationship between institutions and civil society organisations, but this time, relations between the Office of the President and Kosovo women’s Network has proven the opposite, because initially we are women, and we sometimes step outside the lines, and second, we believe in the strength, potential and capacity which each one, every single woman in our society has, and we channel this towards the benefit of our country, of our state.

I congratulate you, new friends of the Gender Equality Lobby, and I consider this as a very proper initiative. I have already heard good words about your platform, and I would like to congratulate you for the work undertaken so far in order to increase the cooperation among each other and to empower the movement for advancement of girls and women, in bith local and central level.

Each one of you is an inspirational role model for young girls, they find strength and courage in you, to ask for all the rights which are theirs, but which are not realized as they should have been, and for this they find good example in you.

We know very well that only by working together we can achieve changes which we desire so much, we know very well that we still have a lot to do, as representation of women is as yet not satisfactory, in local and central level.

You know that there are many successful women among us, powerful women in politics, locally and centrally. There are also women successful in business, media, powerful assembly members, as you, in local level. There are also many strong women leaders of many non-governmental organisations. But we still have a lot to do to arrive were we wanto to, where many other countries are, after reaching the zenith of democracy.

Problems which we face are many, but I would like to focus in some of them.

You know that for these four years, for as long as I have served as President, in each task I have had a single aim, advancement of the role of women in our society.

You probably know that in 2012 I have organised the International Women’s Summit, for the first time both in Kosovo and in the South-Eastern Europe, attended by participants form over 100 countries of the world,  with a considerable number of principles arose at this summit, which have in these two and a half years post summit been transformed into laws, different guidelines and operating regulations, inclusive of the resolution of the Parliament of Kosovo, to, by 2050, achieve the 50% inclusion rate of women in civil service as we consist over 50 % of our society, and we ask for an equal treatment of more than half of our society.

I would like to address two issues with you today, issues which we still face today, First one is the education of girls and the second one is access to property ad inheritance. Education is the key to barrier braking, to have your voice heard, and we must work incessantly to not allow our girls to drop out of schools.

You know very well that Kosovo, our country; our municipalities are still statistically at the top of the girls illiteracy tables, not only in the region but beyond, and we must not allow this to continue. I ask of you to, at local and central level, become my strongest voice, the voice of each other, for girls to have the right to education, as investment in them is not an investment in an individual, it is an investment in the future of our state.

Access to property and inheritance is a challenging issue for our society and is a priority one issue, as women and girls must have their economic independence. We know that economic independence is a very important factor for the wellbeing of the family, and in treating of women within the family, and this is directly linked to woman’s independence and her economic sustainability.

You have heard me say it often, that investment in women is not just an investment in an individual, but it goes one in three. To invest in a woman is to invest in a child, and in a family and in a society, followed by the best investment, in the state and the future of our country.

I see in you powerful women which will be contributing to your communities, strengthen other women and girls as well, and thus demonstrate to them that with hard work, faith and dedication all the barriers can be overcome. Challenges will always be there, for all of us, in every facet and level of life, as we continue to be facing a patriarchal mentality and gender prejudice. You must encourage them to not backtrack, because there is no challenge which we have not demonstrated that we cannot overcome if we are together.

A subject which also unites us today is the handling of a very sensitive issue for our post war society, a long time a taboo, and was purposefully held to be a closed painful chapter of lives of our sisters, our mothers, our daughters, for 16 years after the end of war, the issue of survivors of sexual violence during the war. You have heard me often say that guilt lies not upon them, but upon those who committed this macabre crime; and we, only by sticking together, by supporting each other can rid them of this guilt, by placing it upon the perpetrators. They seek only one thing, justice, and we must provide this justice, both within our society and outside our borders, by internationalizing this issue.

Igo and all you members of the Kosovo Women’s Network have offered an exceptional and unreserved support to this part of our society and have undertaken incessant endeavours to make their voices heard and to bring justice to them. Path to the rehabilitation of the survivors was not an easy one, delayed as well. But, last year we took an exceptional step, We now have an institutional mechanism, a mechanism lacking for 15 years, the National Council on Survivors of Sexual Violence during the War, in which the Kosovo Women’s Network is an active member since its establishment, fully committed to legal recognition, psycho-social rehabilitation, access to healthcare and justice as well as awareness raising of our society. I would like to in your and our behalf express gratitude to the Lobby for exceptional work during these 16 years for these women, being their sole voice for many years.

As you know, in one year we have managed to achieve a lot together, and these achievements no doubt incite us to believe that by working together we can achieve to offer them a dignified treatment, as they deserve, and not to be treated as they have been until now.

Sensibilisation of our society about this war crime continues to remain essential for all the processes we want to move ahead, starting from law implementation, access to justice and community treatment, but above all they need spiritual peace and that can be provided by justice and non stigmatization by our society.

I know that each one of you has brought with them today dresses or skirts to contribute to the artistic installation “I think of you” of Alketa Xhafa Mripa, who among many artists, has endeavoured to through their works of art, their initiatives, raise awareness of the society on an experience of a large part of our society, and we are not dealing with a small number here, we are dealing with 20.000 women, with 20.000 mothers, sisters and daughters, who’s voices have been silent for so many years. You have heard me say often, we are not US and THEM, we are US and we are ONE!

At the very end, I would like to thank each one of you for your work, your engagement, your passion and devotion, in your jobs and your posts. In me you do not only have a President, but one of your strongest friends. You have in me a powerful lobbyist of the role and position of women, and a strong ally in empowerment of our common role, in Kosovo and worldwide.

Thank you.