Why do we work in Kosovo?
Kosovo was the site of ethnic cleansing, mass rapes and looting during the Balkan Wars in the 1990s.
In 2008, the disputed area of Kosovo split from Serbia to become its own country. Although most of the country savors its hard-won independence, tensions between ethnic groups still run high, and the country is struggling to find its way as a new nation.
Persistent gender inequality coupled with an estimated 43 percent unemployment rate makes this nearly impossible. Unemployment disproportionately affects young women and those with a limited education. The average per capita income in Kosovo is just $2,800 a year–among the very lowest in Europe.
Kosovo has beautiful, fertile land that goes unused. It has rich natural resources that remain untapped. And its women are desperate to prove that they can contribute to their fledgling nation.
With your help, Women for Women International is working with women in Kosovo to help them rebuild their lives.
What you help us do in Kosovo
Our programs in Kosovo include direct financial aid, rights awareness classes, job skills training and emotional support. The one-year program was developed for Kosovo’s special challenges and demands, and includes vocational training that helps women earn an income and support themselves, through:
Graduate resources — through the opening of a Women’s Opportunity Center in 2011; Kosovo program graduates will receive additional business support and access to women-led support networks
Handcrafts — capitalizing upon program participants’ skills in embroidery, knitting and sewing
Other courses include:
- Dairy production
- Service industry (childcare, environmental services and retail)
Women for Women International has operated in Kosovo since 1999 and has served over 26,000 women in 33 communities. We are privileged to have Iliriana Jaka Gashi as our Country Director.
- Provided start-up packages with tools and materials for income generation as well as scholarships for further education to hundreds of program graduates, including those from minority communities.
- Mobilized several hundred women to take part in a debate on Kosovo’s first constitution.
- Assisted program graduates to form framing associations to support each other’s agricultural activities.
Sadije, her husband and their four children had a normal life on a small farm until the war reached their town. Soldiers terrorized the population, and Sadije fled to the mountains with her children. She lived there for months, separated from her husband, unsure if he was alive or dead.
When the war was over, Sadije was reunited with her husband. They returned with their traumatized children to a ruined home and fields, and no prospects for supporting their family.
Sadije enrolled with Women for Women International and received rights-awareness training and small business management courses. Now, Sadije no longer attends our meetings—she runs them. As a community leader, she holds programs in her own home. Women travel miles on foot just to hear her speak.
Sadije says, "I feel so good. My life has changed so much. I am so happy to work with the women that I don't ever get tired. Thank you to the people who have helped me so much."