Gender and Social Equality is at the heart of MFK projects
Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls are widely recognized as major dimensions of human progress. Studies show that countries embracing values of gender equality and social inclusion they also have sustainable economic development.
Therefore, Millennium Foundation Kosovo, the entity established to implement the Threshold Agreement with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), is committed to promoting gender equality and social inclusion in all its projects. Our dedication is rooted in the policies – and the very mission of MCC – which is “poverty reduction through economic growth”; always recognizing that women are important economic actors and that women’s inactivity and gender inequality may be a major obstacle to sustainable economic growth.
Kosovo in the last decade has developed a very comprehensive institutional and legal framework to ensure gender equality and equal treatment for all its citizens.
A World Bank study stated that Kosovo is one of only 18 countries among of the 173 economies of countries around the world, that do not have any of 47 measured legal differences between men and women.
This being said, the implementation of laws and policies on gender equality remains a challenge in Kosovo mainly due to traditional gender norms and stereotypes, which was historically inherited, putting women in a disadvantaged position in the Kosovar society.
A particular concern is the very low participation of women in the labour market which is the lowest in the region and among the lowest in the world. Based on the Kosovo Agency statistical data, only 20% of women are active in the labour market.
MCC has commissioned a Kosovo-wide “Labor Force and Time-Use Survey” to help fill empirical gaps in the understanding of labour market dynamics effect women employment and to understand better the challenges for greater women participation in the labour force.
This study which had a significant gender focus, found that women’s participation in the labour market was higher than the official statistics collected through the Kosovo Agency of Statistics (KAS) but men were still more than twice more likely to be in the labour force than females (67.9% and 31.3%, respectively).
The low participation of women in the labour market was also mentioned in the Constraints Analysis for Economic Growth for Kosovo, drafted by the Millennium Challenge Office, a Kosovo government team working on the preparation of Threshold program.
Although this analysis did not find low participation of women in labour market as a “binding constraint for growth”, the issue was still considered to be a critical cross-cutting concern that will impact the ability to ensure inclusive growth and job creation in Kosovo and maximize the country’s human and economic development.
MFK has recently developed a Social and Gender Integration Plan (SGIP) to systematize and ensure social and gender inclusion across Threshold projects and activities. The aim is to enable equal participation, opportunities and benefits fora broad-based section of Kosovar citizens, including women and men from different income groups, different ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, and other disadvantaged groups.
Furthermore, recognizing women’s low representation in the labour market and in the energy sector in particular, the Threshold Program investments include specific components to strengthen economic opportunities for women and girls of Kosovo to participate in the energy sector. These investments are focused on providing internships, scholarships and grants for women entrepreneurs.
This activity will target women and girls by strengthening economic opportunities for women, including through direct employment and entrepreneurship.
- Paid internships will be provided to support women’s employment in the energy sector, targeting female students and graduates from relevant universities by providing practical job experience.
- Scholarships will be offered for female students for relevant studies to upgrade their skills relevant to the energy sector.
- In addition, investment in energy will support also women entrepreneurs by providing technical assistance and incentives for women entrepreneurs as energy service providers to increase their activity in the energy sector or women entrepreneurs as energy consumers who could benefit from reduced electricity cost or greater economy productivity achievable through energy efficiency practices or technology upgrades.
photography by Armend Nimani and dhe Valdrin Xhemaj
Violeta Rexha is the Gender and Social Inclusion Specialist at the Millennium Foundation Kosovo. Opinions in this blog may not reflect necessarily policies of Government of Kosovo or Millennium Challenge Corporation.