Women have historically faced significant barriers when entering the legal profession and advancing in the judiciary, both globally and in Kosovo. However, the Kosovo Judicial Council, along with other legal organizations supported by USAID, is dedicated to promoting gender diversity and equality within the legal field. Efforts include providing training and mentorship opportunities for women lawyers and working towards eliminating gender bias and discrimination in the profession.
Despite the challenges, Kosovo has made remarkable strides in achieving gender diversity within the judiciary. Currently, women hold a significant number of judicial positions in the country, accounting for approximately 34.5% of judges, as per data from the Kosovo Judicial Council. Furthermore, women comprise 61.6% of the legal professionals working as support staff in Kosovo courts. Over the past three years, women have filled 241 out of the 455 new positions created, representing 53% of total new hires. This increase in women's representation in the judiciary is an encouraging development for gender equality in Kosovo, underscoring the nation's commitment to promoting women's rights and equal opportunities.
“Women have a right to fair representation in the judiciary, not because they are exceptional, but because they stand on an equal footing with men,” states Saranda Bogaj-Sheremeti, the vice president of the newly established Commercial Court. More and more women like Mrs. Bogaj - Sheremeti are holding leadership positions in Kosovo’s judiciary.
A key factor contributing to this progress has been the implementation of measures to ensure gender representation in judicial appointments. Starting in 2010, Kosovo introduced a requirement that the composition of the judiciary align with the gender equality principles enshrined in the Constitution, as outlined in the Law on Courts. This requirement remains in place under the current Law on Courts, which was passed in 2018. Such measures have facilitated the increase in the number of women within the judiciary and have helped ensure their representation in decision-making positions.
“We are working to ensure gender equality in all public institutions, “ says Adelina Shabani-Rama, President of the Prishtina Basic Court. “ As women take on more leadership positions, we can use our influence to invite and inspire girls and women to join the judiciary and work towards greater gender equality in the legal profession, “ she added.
Increased representation of women judges in the judiciary ensures that justice is accessible to all, rather than being limited to a privileged few.