On their way forward, Kosovo women pause to celebrate their successes

Ms. Gezime Rexhepi, Owner of Bardha Kindergarten, addresses the gathering, 3/8/13.
Ms. Gezime Rexhepi, Owner of Bardha Kindergarten, addresses the gathering, 3/8/13.
Dina Cernobregu, USAID

For Immediate Release

Friday, March 8, 2013
Victoria O'Hara, Xheraldina Cernobregu

On a day dedicated to women everywhere, approximately 50 of Kosovo’s most accomplished women entrepreneurs gathered to share stories of their successes, as well as the challenges they still face.

The March 8 International Women’s Day networking event highlighted the significant contributions women have made in the development of Kosovo’s economy, including in the arts, agriculture, education, and manufacturing.

“Today we are celebrating successes,” USAID/Kosovo Mission Director Maureen A. Shauket told the crowd. “Yes, we all have challenges, we all have obstacles to overcome. But if we work hard, if we believe in ourselves, if we support each other, we can overcome them. And you all are shining examples of that.”

Shauket later encouraged the audience to keep pushing the envelope, in demanding not special opportunities, but equal opportunities to succeed through hard work.

In Kosovo, just one in three women actively participates in the labor force—a rate that is roughly half the European average. That low rate hinders both the progress of Kosovo’s women and the overall productivity of the country.

Blerta Zeqiri, an award-winning director and screenwriter, shared a story about how her parents raised her and her sister in a home free of any tradition-bound gender distinctions.

“They always made me believe in my dreams. In fact, they worried we would grow up to become brides and spend our lives serving tea. When I was relieved of this burden, I was free to pursue my dreams,” said Zeqiri, whose film The Return won a jury prize for international short filmmaking at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.

Florina Skeja, owner and general manager of a consulting company, said progress requires educating both women and men about the benefits of equality.

“We want to change the mentality of people—not only of women, but men too,” said Skeja, in encouraging women to engage, not fight, those who hinder their progress.

The event was organized by USAID New Opportunities for Agriculture, a three year project that works in part to raise the profile of women in agriculture across Kosovo, helping to ensure the sector can reach its full production potential.

Last updated: September 15, 2014

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