It is with great pleasure that I participate in this 2014 Global Summit of Women. An event aimed at our continual push for the full participation of women as powerful beings within all of our societies.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is with great pleasure that I participate in this 2014 Global Summit of Women. An event aimed at our continual push for the full participation of women as powerful beings within all of our societies.

I proudly address you, for you all represent the types of ideals, beliefs, and visions which will encourage the world to recognize the importance of empowering women and realizing the immense impact that gender equality has on the economic growth, social welfare, and the democratic development of any country.

First and foremost, I would like to congratulate Irene Natividad for this global platform that brings us together each year and thank her on behalf of all women, especially the women of Kosovo, for providing us with a chance to utilize our voices while establishing that the progress of women is essential to the progression of the society.

This year, the Summit captures the core impact that women’s participation has on how we project our economies and leadership, and how we aim to ensure sustainability and maintain peace.

Each of us must consider how we can work together to change the global perception towards women, the power and roles we have within our societies, and reflect upon our abilities to truly improve the position of all women.

We are confident that through the empowerment of women – families and societies are empowered.

Women have the power to redesign policies, strategies, and open doors which will guarantee greater development, prosperity, and ensure harmony across communities and nations.

Our aim is to ensure that our actions are a reflection of our respect for the individual rights of women - their right to life, their right to progress and their right to a voice.

Next year we mark the 2015 end-point of the Millennium Development Goals which is directly linked with the achievement of gender equality. We mark as well the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

Two decades have nearly passed and we should ask ourselves - have we accepted that the quest for women’s rights is a quest for the human rights?

How far have we gone within these two decades to lower the level of violence in our families, to lower the level of poverty, and to provide every girl with access to education?

Today we live in a world where young girls and women are guaranteed more rights and offered more opportunities than they were two decades ago.

Change is happening and opportunities are constantly being created to unleash the talents of women, and break barriers.

I am a living proof of that change as I stand here before you as the first Female President in the whole of Balkans.

Despite these important gains, we still face fundamental problems, especially when it comes to the full participation of women in society; their access to resources including health care, education and the overall freedom to flourish.

Today we also bear witness to the plight of our Nigerian sisters. In northern Nigeria the terrorist group Boko Haram, kidnapped nearly 300 schoolgirls and they are still being kept hostage.
Bring back our girls!

There are many other women and young girls who suffer similar fates whose stories do not make the headlines, whose injustices remain unheard, whose names remain unknown to us.

Yet if there is even a single victim, it deserves our full attention and our global quest for justice.

And here, I would like to draw your attention on how these experiences are translated into local context and share with you how we are transforming these overarching principles to make a difference in Kosovo.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
As many of you know, women of Kosovo have been part of the tragedy inflicted by aggression in my country nearly two decades ago. They were an inseparable part of the national struggle to survive. This long battle of the women of Kosovo has turned them simultaneously into the most devout fighters for freedom and every individual’s right to life, as well as the biggest victims in the society.

Women continue to strain and internalize the visible and invisible signs of their victimization. They have been victims of sexual violence in Kosovo by Serbian forces that sought to repress their dignity, that of their families and of their children. Of rape as a tool of war.

Every time I have met them, I have seen the signs of their suffering and their inhumane treatment in the form of sexual violence used for political gains.

The struggle to bring justice, to break the barrier of their stigmatization in the society has been a very important struggle. A struggle that should include each and every member of the society so that the victims can be offered a sense of normalcy, a life different from what the perpetrators of these horrendous crimes designed for them.

Amid competing priorities related to the creation of a new state, as well as much debate that at times was insensitive to the traumas lived by the victims, we have tried to change their surroundings.

Because their peace is our peace. Without their peace Kosovo found no peace.

Finally, a few months ago, we promulgated a law that recognizes their status as a victim of war that recognizes their sacrifices and a law that ensures that the burden on them would not be heavier than it already is because of the silence that surrounds this episode in their lives.
Because their rights are human rights.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
For over fifteen years, from when I began my career with the Kosovo Police, wherever I went, I have taken with me the need for gender equality and the right of the woman to be an integral part of the society. For over three years, since I was elected as the head of state in Kosovo, I have become the voice of the woman in our society, and the voice of equality for every citizen in my country.

I was elected as a President in a very critical time for my country, while alongside its international consolidation we faced a major internal challenge – the creation of an inclusive country based on democratic values, respectful of cultural and ethnic diversity.

Internationally, my election as the head of state, as the first woman President of my country and beyond in the Western Balkans, embodied a change of perception about the societies of the region which are often perceived as patriarchal, places where women do not have much to say.

Internally, my election meant hope for each and every woman, a chance to prove that we are fully capable to lead our countries and lead important processes.

My country is one where tradition has often times deprived women to enjoy their equal rights and freedoms as guaranteed by the country’s constitution and laws.

Yet as a country with a difficult past, we have witnessed how women have safeguarded the fabrics of our society and protected our families. We have witnessed how women have found the strength and courage to rebuild a society torn by war and give their children hope for a better future.

Foremost, we have witnessed how the sustainable peace, the developed democracy and prosperous country we have pledged to build, can only be achieved by fulfilling the human rights of women, their right to justice, their right to equal participation in the decision making tables.

We have broken the standard that the head of state should be a man by electing the first woman President. We have broken the standard that women play only marginalized roles in their government by having women lead the most important political processes for the country, the technical dialogue process with Serbia in search for stability in the region and the European integration process of the country. And we have broken the standard that only men can run a city by electing the first woman mayor.

Yet despite of all our achievements, this was not an easy journey. It has not been easy to change the perception towards us – towards the women who lead with these processes and certainly it has not been easy to demonstrate that our abilities and our strength is based on the human love, on the dialogue with one another, on the compassion towards every citizens and understanding we show for the others.

Above all it has not been easy to show that we give power to the society!

Despite of all the achievements, we the women in Kosovo who today are barriers of the most important processes of our country, as many other women in all parts of the world beyond the region of Balkans, have not still been able to change the perception towards us, towards our knowledge and our strength.

But we are determined to move on and move forward. To consolidate these gains. To make our societies more democratic, more just, more equal.

Despite the fact that we live in Europe, our societies in the region of the Western Balkans continue to face the trend of preventing girls from going to school, denying them their fundamental rights to acquire education and knowledge.

Since the very first day that I took office, I have raised the voice of support for all women and young girls, whose rights for education and acquiring knowledge have been denied by old family traditions.

Yet we continue to remain a patriarchal society, regardless of the changing occurring around the world and regardless of our continuous efforts to change the perception of citizens toward the roles entitled to every member of the society.

The difficult past, the continuous conflicts in the region, the prolonged enmities and the level of development of our societies, especially the economic level of development, have denied women their rights for equality in the society.

Therefore it is high time to change the world and value women not only for the work they do within their own households and within the walls of their houses, but we need to value them for the level of their education, for their knowledge and especially for their courage to face challenges.

We have to believe in the empowerment of women, in the quest to guarantee them independence in their lives, access to all resources and offer them opportunities for advancement.

Since I believe that an educated woman presents a greater opportunity for her family and for the whole society, and for an empowered woman is the strength of the society itself.

Therefore today we raise our voices once again for the rights of women as human rights!

Since the right for life is the same for every human being.
Since the right for education and the right to work is equal for every citizen.

Since the right of women to be part in every facet of life is as much a human right as it is a right for freedom.

Dear ladies and gentlemen,

Last year President Obama at the University of Cape Town stated: “one can measure how well a country does by how it treats its women”.

Indeed in many countries around the world we have seen how leadership has determined the pace of achieving gender equality and how countries development has been linked with the social, economic and political empowerment of women.

As my dear friend and as a dear friend of all women and young girls worldwide, Honorable Hillary Clinton by breaking barriers and setting new standards has made gender equality central to all her work, engagements and activities, leading countries and societies to acknowledge that investment in women guarantees prosperous economies, meaningful democracies and welfare in all societies.

She made it clear more than two decades ago that the rights of women are human rights, by changing once and for all how the world perceives gender equality.

While in countries like the United Arab Emirates we have witnessed how women leaders have played a crucial role in making gender equality an integral part of their national development agenda.

It is upon the support of Her Highness Sheika Fatima bint Mubarak, a visionary leader and a role model for young girls and women worldwide, whose dedication for the empowerment of women and increase of agency of women, has aided the country to drop the illiteracy rate to 1% and for 66% of women to be employed within the public sector. All societies are in need of these inspiring leaders.

Dear Summit Participants,
We must once again reaffirm that our differences are smaller than the similarities we share and our common goal to achieving our rights is human and just, regardless of challenges which stand on our way.

We understand that there is fundamental link between the economic, social and political empowerment of women. In order for us to achieve gender equality we need to progress in all three fronts.

Our policies and behavior should recognize that women when empowered change access to healthcare, access to education, and the DESTËNI of their children.
Once and for all breaking the vicious cycle of discrimination.

It is the mission of our generation to change the course of history and eradicate all types of discrimination against women and girls.

Together we can build an inclusive world where gender equality will no longer be a topic of discussion.

I would like to leave you with a quote from the recently deceased Maya Angelou, the poet, author and civil rights activist “Courage is the most important of all virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently”.

Be Courageous. Thank you!