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OPINIONMarch 8, 2024

Advancing Gender Equality in Kosovo: Challenges and Pathways Forward

This opinion was originally published by on March 8, 2024. Anna Fruttero is a Senior Economist at the World Bank Poverty and Equity Practice Group, and Massimiliano Paolucci is the World Bank Country Manager for Kosovo and North Macedonia.

As the world celebrates International Women's Day, it's crucial to reflect on the progress made and the hurdles yet to overcome in the journey towards gender equality. In recent years, Kosovo has witnessed notable advancements, particularly in education and healthcare, signaling a positive trajectory. However, significant challenges persist, particularly in the realms of employment, and political representation.

One of the most pressing issues facing women in Kosovo is the stark disparity in employment opportunities. While achieving, on average, higher education standards compared to men, women still encounter barriers in accessing quality employment. Many find themselves relegated to precarious, low-paying jobs, perpetuating economic inequality. Compounded by traditional gender norms that assign caregiving responsibilities primarily to women, the path to full-time employment remains obstructed.

Kosovo boasts a legal framework supportive of gender equality. However, the divide between legislation and implementation is yet to be bridged. Enforcement gaps undermine the efficacy of laws designed to protect women's rights and opportunities.

With the notable exception of few women in top leadership positions, such as the President of the Republic of Kosovo and several ministers in the current government, and despite increased participation, women are underrepresented in leadership roles across sectors. This lack of diversity not only deprives women of opportunities but also hampers societal progress, as diverse leadership fosters more inclusive governance and business practices.

Addressing these challenges requires a multifaceted approach from strengthening enforcement mechanisms for existing gender equality laws to enhancing women’s labor force participation.

Promoting women's participation in high-value economic sectors can bolster their economic empowerment. This necessitates not only educational and training initiatives but also sustained efforts to create the conditions for women to work and, in parallel, efforts to challenge societal norms limiting women's career choices.

Moreover, improving access to childcare and aligning educational schedules with work hours can facilitate women's participation in the workforce. Enhanced access to financial resources and support for women entrepreneurs are also crucial for fostering economic independence.

In conclusion, while Kosovo has made significant strides towards gender equality, persistent challenges demand sustained efforts from all stakeholders. By prioritizing enforcement of laws, promoting economic empowerment, enhancing political representation, and challenging societal norms, Kosovo can continue progressing towards a more equitable and inclusive society for all its citizens. International Women's Day serves as a reminder of the work yet to be done and the collective responsibility to create a future where gender equality is not just an aspiration but a reality.


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