The importance of women’s political participation is recognized internationally.
The Convention to End Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) calls upon signatory
states to ensure women’s equal right to be eligible for and hold public office.
In its 2012 Resolution on Women and Political Participation, the U.N. General Assembly urges all states to: “Strongly encourage political parties to remove all barriers that directly or indirectly discriminate against the participation of women, to develop their capacity to analyze issues from a gender perspective, and to adopt policies to promote the ability of women to participate fully at all levels of decision-making within those political parties.”
Kosovo has made important strides in increasing the number of women in political
leadership. Though the number of women in executive leadership positions remains
low, the presence of influential women in a handful of key positions is changing public
attitudes about women and creating momentum for increased women’s leadership in the
future. The implementation of a legislative gender quota has opened greater avenues
for women’s political participation and assists women in overcoming barriers to political
participation. By increasing the number of women serving as public role models it also is
helping change public opinion about women’s ability to participate in politics.
In numbers, 32.5 percent of members of parliament (MPs) are women. A woman has been head of state. Several women ministers in government have and continue to hold key posts, and the head of the Central Election Commission (CEC) is a woman. In 2013 local elections, a woman mayor was elected for the first time. These are significant achievements that should be recognized. However, there remain many key leadership roles and sectors in Kosovo where women are not represented, and significant barriers to women’s participation still remain.
Many women do not see an upside to entering politics and taking on a political career
which makes recruiting women candidates for office more difficult. Some women mentioned the challenge of succeeding within male-dominated political parties, the impact of entering politics on their families, welfare or careers, fear of overzealous media attention, and a lack of confidence in their ability to serve effectively as reasons for a reluctance to run for office. Women perceive the political arena as biased against them.
Women from minority communities face additional obstacles to entering politics.
Many minority communities live in small rural municipalities with traditional values that do not support women’s political participation. As a result, there is a lack of family
support for women to participate in politics at any level. In this context, non-Albanian parties have even more limited space for women to gain exposure and prove their ability to run for office and govern effectively.
While campaign period women face a lot of challenges, such as low public profile. The European Union’s Election Observation Mission preliminary report notes that “Political parties continue to be dominated by men and media give much more extensive coverage to male candidates.” Another challenge is gender stereotyping and portrayal. In many cases, opponents use women’s age and gender as arguments against their candidacies. Therefore, citizens are more likely to give their vote to a man than a woman.
Political parties should make greater efforts to retain women to run for future office,
particularly during non-electoral cycles by including women in such activities as
training programs, policy discussion roundtables, and branch level party events.
Political party leadership should dedicate equal resources for women candidates,
including human and financial support, media exposure, visibility and in-kind
In harmony with the Law on Gender Equality, the Independent Media Commission should draft a regulation to provide for a fair gender presentation, including banning of the use of any sexist language and presentation of women as sex objects in the media.
Political parties should ensure gender-balanced leadership at rallies, meetings,
and media appearances.
Political parties should explore opportunities to provide continuous skills
development training for women members.
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