PRISHTINA, October 28, 2015 – The Government of the Republic of Kosovo and the World Bank are working to include more women in the digital economy. By catalyzing funding for a “green jobs” pilot project, both institutions seek to develop Kosovo’s digital economy, including by equipping 100 under-/unemployed women in rural areas with technical and soft skills to connect them to online work. The “Women in ICT” initiative launched by the Ministry of Economic Development aims at opening doors for women to find well-paid employment in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector.
Only one in eight women are formally employed in Kosovo (compared to two in five men), highlighting the fact that female job-seekers face many specific challenges in the labor market, including in the ICT sector, calling for a particular focus. This asymmetry is even more pronounced in rural areas, where the combination of the lack of market-oriented skills and education, poorly developed infrastructure in fixed internet, public transport, and child-/eldercare institutions have amplified a generally unsupportive culture, creating disincentives for women to contribute to growth and wealth creation.
“In a small and landlocked economy such as Kosovo’s, employment of every single person counts, and therefore our Government is making every effort to activate more adult women into labor force, especially into sectors with a high growth potential and strategic to our country’s development, such as ICT,” said Besa Zogaj-Gashi, Deputy Minister of Economic Development of Kosovo. “We view the sector development holistically, in relation to other sectors of both the domestic and global digital economy. Through our new initiative we aim at raising awareness of existing possibilities in the traditional ICT market as well as abundant opportunities presented by global online work. Our goal is to facilitate creation of a sufficient number of full-time, part-time, and freelance jobs to cater to women of different age groups, places of residence, employment status, educational attainment, and family obligations.”
The “Women in ICT” initiative will launch this “green jobs” pilot activity to test whether online work could address some of the challenges faced by women living in rural areas to find formal employment opportunities. The project will link Kosovo’s young, language- and technology-savvy workforce into the rapidly growing global online work industry. Already, over one-half of Kosovo’s software firms are competing for global online contracts, and there is potential for rapid growth and job creation.
“Much of online work can be done anywhere, at any time, and very flexibly,” said Jan-Peter Olters, World Bank Country Manager in Kosovo. “As such, any—potentially very rapid—growth momentum in this sector would benefit particularly young women in rural areas, allowing them to enter into formal employment despite remote locations and/or additional family obligations.”
The World Bank catalyzed funding for this pilot—together with a series of feasibility studies identifying rural broadband connectivity gaps and providing recommendations for solutions—under the technical assistance program “Innovative and Green Growth for Rural Kosovo”. It is being financed through a Korea Green Growth Trust Fund grant, covering the period July 2014 to June 2016.
“We are encouraged to see that the Korea Green Growth Trust Fund is supporting Kosovo advance to the forefront of leveraging ICT for economic growth in the region,” said Eun Joo Allison Yi, Korea Green Growth Trust Fund Coordinator. “Mainstreaming online, or green, jobs for Kosovo’s unemployed women residing in rural areas will prove, among others, that economic and environmental sustainability and social are compatible.”