September 3, 2021 | Friday

Kosovo women should demand their seat at the negotiation table – Milica Radovanovic

A growing body of evidence shows that when women participate in peace processes, parties are more likely to reach sustainable peace agreements that are more durable and better implemented.[1]

In the last two decades, Kosovo has been at the negotiating table three times. Rambouillet peace negotiations (1999) and Vienna talks (2007) were not successful. When it comes to the currently active one – Brussels negotiations which started in 2011, the possible ending is not even in sight.

What is typical for all three processes, women have not been significantly represented at the table. However, the results of those negotiations had/have an equal or even more significant impact on their lives.

The number of seats at the negotiating table is limited. Women stepping in requires someone else to step aside. The logical question is why some men at the table would give over their seats to women?

“To be included, there must be a high enough cost of exclusion – it has to cost them more not to let you in than to keep you out” / Karin Hernmarck, ambassador of Sweden in Kosovo (at the NSI conference on the inclusion of women at the negotiating table in Pristina)

If women in Kosovo want to have a seat at the negotiating table, it looks like they now have the perfect momentum to demand it.

On the 10th anniversary of the start of the negotiation process between Belgrade and Pristina in Brussels, based on a survey conducted by NSI, about 50% of respondents do not believe that the negotiations will result in a final agreement in the next five years.  Around 30% of them do not think they will ever achieve a comprehensive agreement at all.

On the other hand, 90 percent of respondents believe women should be included at the negotiating table.

With the second women president, 44 female MPs (out of 120), five women ministers in the Government (out of 15), Government’s gender equality program that foreseen lobbying for women’s inclusion in negotiations with Serbia, it is reasonable to expect from them to raise this issue.

Lest we forget, president Vjosa Osmani was the most voted MP candidate in Kosovo’s history in the last elections. Most female candidates (33) won seats in Kosovo’s previous parliamentary election without gender quotas. All of this shows the great support women representatives have among Kosovo citizens.

Now is the time for the women in institutions to start using their voices to pursue a more feminist agenda and demand equal representation in every decision-making table, not only the negotiating one. It is now up to them to show their male colleagues the costs of that exclusion and why it is crucial to have them at the table.

Inclusion of Women at the Negotiating Table in Kosovo is the EUSR project, implemented by NSI. During the previous months, NSI conducted 6 round tables in different regions of Kosovo and a survey on this topic. NSI also organized the conference in Pristina with the Swedish Ambassador Karin Hernmarck and the DSRSG Barrie Lynne Freeman and women in academia.

Milica Radovanovic – Researcher at New Social Initiative