President Jahjaga’s address at the “Women of Influence” conference organized by the American Chamber of Commerce

It is a distinct pleasure to address you at this year’s Women of Influence event hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Kosovo- to reaffirm women’s economic and political empowerment as essential for the progress of a society.

Honourable Mr. Zeka,
Honourable Ladies,
Dear Friends,

It is a distinct pleasure to address you at this year’s Women of Influence event hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Kosovo- to reaffirm women’s economic and political empowerment as essential for the progress of a society.

Ensuring equal opportunities for men and women is no longer a moral imperative; rather, it is a known fact that enables us to achieve sustainable development and long-lasting peace.

Through the empowerment of women – families and societies are empowered, because a chance offered to a  woman,  is  a  chance  offered  to  the  whole  society.  In doing so, we recognize that women exercise a powerful role within the society- the role of agents of change. When included in economic, social and political fronts, they unleash their talents and potential to towards progress of not only the family and society, but also to the state as a whole.

In our society women have been influential in so many ways. They have had the strength to safeguard the   fabric of our society in times of war as well as in times of peace. They have led efforts for  freedom, for  education, and access to health, ----often times in the face of great barriers and injustice which they presented themselves and they successfully fought them..

In all the positions that I have served, I have witnessed the important changes that the participation of women has brought- even in fields that were traditionally seen as reserved for men.

I have seen the progress when successful businesswomen-undeterred by obstacles-managed to pursue their entrepreneurial passion, and the best example are some of you present here today. I have seen it in women in politics, who have not stepped back but have become the voice of all citizens. I have seen it in the women in the security sector, who despite prejudices, have offered the necessary safety to all citizens.

These women of influence stand as a true testament to the progress that can be achieved when there is greater participation of women in all facets of life. The bold steps that these women have taken, have opened new chapters in how we perceive the role of women within their family, larger community and society in general.

We have made great strides thus far, but there is much more to be done, and all of you here know that. Today, only one in six senior officials, managers and legislators are women, and out of 21 ministers, only 2 are women. Women are still paid less for doing the same job as men. They still have limited access to economic and financial resources, and property rights. This unequal representation and participation is not unique to Kosovo, but it is part of the global struggle for gender equality that men just as women are responsible to carry out.

We cannot afford to deprive women of their rights, because we know too well that women and the society as a whole will bear the brunt.

Therefore, while we guarantee gender equality by law, implementation should not be optional, or left to us to choose to implement it.

Latest initiatives, such as responsible gender budgeting need to be embedded at all institutional levels so that developmental policies will rightly reflect the needs and contributions of women.

And, as we reflect on how to overcome the challenges, equality should continue to be our guiding principle. Women need to be equally present at the decision-making table, whether in political processes or at corporation boards. We need to further amplify the women’s voices for increased representation, and a greater role in establishing and maintaining the foundations of a just society.

I will continue to be dedicated in ensuring that men and women are treated equally, they enjoy equal access to life opportunities and that their abilities and potential are equally recognized.

Women and men- with their diverse experiences and roles- should maintain a unity of effort in building on the progress that has been made, and work towards furthering the gender equality agenda that paves the way for a more inclusive and sustainable world for the generations to come.
 
And I would like to end this meeting with you today with a saying of a great friend of mine, and also a friend of the people of Kosovo, former US Secretary of State, Ms. Hillary Clinton, who said: “The world is changing beneath our feet and it is past time to embrace a twenty-first -century approach to advancing the rights and opportunities of women and girls at home and across the globe.”

It is not only this saying, but many other sayings of this lady, and of many of you who are here today, in the region and beyond, have been a great inspiration to me. And they must also be an inspiration for you too, because if you do not encourage each other, irrespective of the place where you are, in politics, law and order, judiciary or entrepreneurship, our mission will remain incomplete , and I tell you that you must powerfully lobby for the rights of every single one, because wherever you become successful, it will guarantee a greater viability of our society and of our future generations.