President Jahjaga’s speech at the opening session of the ministerial panel of the Global Summit of Women

President of the Republic of Kosovo, Mrs. Atifete Jahjaga, held a speech today at the opening of the ministerial panel of the Global Summit of Women, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on the subject of empowering of women and importance of Public-Private Partnership. This panel was also attended by the Vice President of Vietnam Nguyen Thi Doan, the First Lady of Namibia Penehupife Pohamba and the First Lady of Zambia Christine Kaseba.

Mrs. Mimoza Kusari-Lila, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade and Industry of Kosovo, was also in attendance.

President Jahjaga is attending the proceedings of the Global Summit of Women in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, together with other representatives of Governments and civil society from all around the world.

Below, in full, is President Jahjaga’s speech, delivered at the opening of the ministerial panel;

Honourable Irene,
Honourable Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is with great honour that I address this global summit of women that starts today and I would like to pay high respect for the wonderful job that Irene has done throughout these years in making the economic empowerment of women a reality. You are a role model and an inspiration for women and girls all around the world.

For over a century, we have galvanized our societies to acknowledge that women are the cornerstone of our progress.

As we start today our discussion as representatives from public and private sectors about ways how we will continue this journey together, we look back at the success that we have reached so far under visionary leaders who have set bold goals and have seen to it to treat each member of the society equally.

Every inch of rights that we enjoy today as women, has been won through hard work and through continuous persistence. The fight for women rights in all corner of the world has the same face, including the region where I come from – South East Europe. With hard work we are changing the stereotypes within our societies. I proudly represent a country which only fourteen years ago ended one of the most bloodies wars in the Western Balkans, which regenerated itself in peace by creating an inclusive society, ensuring that every citizen is guaranteed equal rights and freedoms.

In Kosovo we have pioneered some of the most effective, sustainable initiatives towards transforming gender norms. It is our belief that a sound democracy and an inclusive system is the best tool towards sustainable development.

Women in Kosovo today are in key positions and are increasingly becoming an influential part of the decision-making process. Kosovo has a woman for a President and two women deputy prime ministers, a woman who runs the trade and industry ministry and a woman who leads the EU integration process. In the Assembly women represent more than thirty percent of the members. 

Women have yet to earn their equal share in the society and the right to decide for their lives. But we remain determined and united more than ever, as this Summit demonstrates, in making sure that every individual is given the same chances and opportunities.

The empowerment of women and girls should be a priority for all leaders who want to see their countries progress. It is a paradox to talk about progress if half of the society is left behind, offered less opportunities and discriminated against.

We have a challenging road ahead of us. Obstacles will continue to block our way and slow down our progress - but we will succeed in making women empowerment a reality everywhere, in every country, in every city and in every village.

Because, when we talk about women economic empowerment, we are talking about strengthening our families, we are talking about strengthening our communities and we are talking about strengthening our state.

We have seen it over and again how by investing in women we are in fact investing in a better future for all citizens. For investment in women is not only investment in an individual, it is a direct investment in the type of education that our children acquire and type of health care that our children are offered, effecting their future and the wellbeing of the whole family.

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

When talking about women’s rights we are not talking about favours or special privileges for women. We are talking about what is fair, what is smart, what should be the norm which should guide us all.

It is fair for women to participate in all fields of life and offer their perspectives when policies are designed and strategies defined which affect every single member of the society, men and women, young and old.

Women are the engines of our society and have transformative powers. It is through their tireless work that we have seen our society’s progress.

It is by investing in the fifty percent of the human capital of our societies that we add to our economies new growth generators, a diversity of ideas and perspectives, which will change the economic models of development forever and rapidly increase the pace of the global economy.

We are witnessing the transformation that is happening everywhere, whenever women are participating as active members of our economies.

Change is evident as women are becoming the engines of economies in developing countries by utilizing their talent and skills in opening and owning the majority of small and medium sized enterprises.

It is evident in the developed countries which have lower level of gender gap and experience better rates of development.

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is the responsibility of every member of the society to consider this fight as his and her own. For this fight is not isolated to only women and girls, it is our common challenge. Thus we need to look for solutions together through bridges of cooperation and partnerships in many levels, among different agents.

We have to break the trap of economic dependency where women have seen themselves for generations. By offering them equality in labour market, access to resources, access to education and training.

Women are a powerful resource of an economy. The talent and the skills that women bring are crucial for public and private sectors. And indeed we have often seen how this partnership has resulted in creating innovative ways to economically empower women.

While we have built legislation we still see that women are still stopped by customary law.  Women still participate less in the workforce than men and own only a few percentage of world’s property.

We should rethink how we draft legislation, policies and how we do business to accommodate the needs and the constraints of women.

We need to ensure that we are drafting legislation that treats women as equal, guaranteeing their rights of inheritance and the rights to own property.

We need to create the mechanism which will close the gap of resources between men and women, by offering women access to financial resources and bank loans to start up their business.

It is by building bridges of cooperation between the private and public sectors that we will utilize our means and resources to support the initiatives which aim to accommodate their talent and skills in the country’s economy.

We need to create a platform of concrete measures to sustain the will and goals we all set. We need to create a chain of cooperation and tackle this problem in all different levels.

I can share with you the example of Kosovo where with the support of my office and the office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Trade and Industry and USAID that we have pushed for the creating of the first Women’s Chamber of Commerce.

We have approached successful women entrepreneurs who have broken all types of barriers and glass ceilings and ask them to select other women, to become their mentors, to become their guide and supporters.

And we see positive results every day. It is the role models who give the courage to women to be fearless to participate in the labour market, to start up a business, to go to school or to speak up against injustices.

Dear summit participants,

We should make it the mission of our generation to continue to pave the road for the next generation and the next one after it, when we will no longer make a difference between the rights of women and men but when we will talk about opportunities and possibilities for each member of the society regardless of gender.

The empowerment of women should be the social movement of the 21st century. It is right, it is smart and we should act upon it.

Thank you!