Dear Ms. Spence,
Dear Ms. Gojani,
Dear girls and you gentlemen who are fewer in number today,
March 8th remains a date of great value because it is the day when girls and women are the focus of every discussion in every corner of the country. However, I would really like that the dedication and engagement towards the advancement of the rights of girls and women were exactly at these levels on a daily basis 365 days of the year, by everyone without distinction. However, until this happens, we must not cease lining up to work together for the rights of girls and women and for unconditional gender equality.
Throughout history, the journey of girls and women has not been easy at all. Each of our achievements in different chapters of history has been accompanied by numerous sacrifices and countless challenges. While many factors have had an impact on shaping this journey, innovation and technology have had a tremendous impact on making the lives of people around the world easier, including that of girls and women.
What seemed impossible to achieve perhaps not more than 50 years ago is now easily achieved through advanced technology. Professions that were thought to belong only to men and boys now have women and girls around the world as success models. This is the transformative power of technology and innovation.
But, as is the case with almost everything else in life, technology and innovation are characterized by not necessarily glorious sides in terms of their contribution to the advancement of women’s rights and gender equality.
Therefore, this International Women’s Day is rightly cantered on the theme “Innovation and technology for gender equality” and as such calls for reflection on the important role that technology plays towards the empowerment of women and girls in general in all spheres of life.
But, at the same time, it presents an extraordinary opportunity to discuss the negative effects and the various challenges that girls and women face in the digital space.
Sexist insults, violent threats, online harassment, defamation, lynching, distribution of intimate photographs and many, many more are a bitter reality faced by 73% of women and girls worldwide. And this is intolerable!
We really need the opening of new opportunities for girls and women, but we absolutely do not need additional risk for additional violence against them, neither at home nor at work or in public spaces or digital spaces. In fact, we don’t need violence at all. It must be fought and eliminated as a whole, therefore we must narrow every space that allows such a thing.
Today I say once again, that every life is sacred. The integrity and well-being of girls and women must be protected at all costs. Their rights must be continuously advanced and their skills must be developed more and more.
Therefore, you who today are the epicentre of this event, my message is: Never stop, never stop dreaming, but most importantly never stop believing!
There will be many people crossing your path who will try to test this belief, don’t let them win. Because you will not only do this for yourself, but also for the women and girls who surround you, and above all for the women and girls who will follow you.
Never stop believing that tomorrow you could be in charge of the largest digital company in the world; never stop believing that tomorrow your project can become the most successful project in Kosovo and beyond; never stop believing that one day you can give direction to the country’s policies but also more widely in the field of technology and innovation and not only.
Just as there is no limit to a person’s ability to dream, I equally strongly urge you to never limit your ambitions towards success.
On such days we often talk about statistics that help us have a clearer picture of the situation on the ground. But, I want to tell you that every statistic in the field of gender data does not represent only a number, it represents a woman, a story of challenge, a story of success, of an undefeated champion in the neighbourhood, in the village, in the city, in the school or in the office who never stopped believing.
You are all daily champions for gender equality and you have the opportunity that through your work and commitment to help these statistics, these numbers at the world level, benefit the daily lives of girls and women; for the benefit of advancing gender equality and raising the general well-being of our society.
Today I am extremely happy to see the commitment of everyone, institutions, schools, universities, civil society organizations, the media and the private sector to promote opportunities for girls and women in the sectors known as STEM, respectively in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This is the wisest thing, this is the right approach because it is already confirmed that by 2050, 75% of jobs globally will be mainly related to these fields.
Therefore, only by working in this direction, we work towards a safer, more equal and more promising future for everyone.
But as we work to empower girls and women, as we invest in and advance their skills and knowledge, let’s also work tirelessly to ensure the safety of digital spaces as equally as the physical ones, which should be safer for our girls and women.
Because work requires security. Success is then guaranteed by meritocracy when you give the opportunity to our daughters and women. Whereas, our present and future will be more promising when the voice, life and work of every girl and woman are treated with the respect they deserve and when we all commit to gender equality together.