Kosovo Joins National Property Rights Coalition

Enforcement of property rights protect a woman in many ways – her safety, health, and ability to support herself and her children all depend upon her ability to hold and inherit property.

Enforcement of property rights protect a woman in many ways – her safety, health, and ability to support herself and her children all depend upon her ability to hold and inherit property. In Kosovo, Women for Women International’s training program works to raise women’s awareness about their legal property rights, and is now also working with other groups to improve the protection of those rights.

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Women for Women International – Kosovo was recently invited to participate in a national coalition organized by the Agency for Gender Equality and the President of Kosovo to promote gender equality in property rights. This coalition has also launched a media campaign called Për Të Mirën Tonë (“For Our Common Good”), to promote better understanding and acceptance of gender equality related to property rights and registration. You can view a recent television advertisement that ran in Kosovo as part of this campaign

We recently sat down with Iliriana Gashi, Country Director of Women for Women International – Kosovo, to discuss the work of the coalition and the importance of gender equality in property rights for the women of Kosovo. You can also learn more about how you can help promote the protection of women’s rights Kosovo on our website.

How did Women for Women International get involved in Për Të Mirën Tonë?
Për Të Mirën Tonë is being organized by a coalition group of stakeholders committed to gender equality in property rights and registration in Kosovo. This group includes OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe), and EULEX (European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo), as well as government representatives, the office of the President, and key donors. The group meets monthly to strategize implementation of gender property registration in Kosovo. Women for Women International was invited to join the coalition because of our work to promote women’s rights in Kosovo.

Focusing on property rights for women is a new priority for the government of Kosovo. Why is this now an issue important for them?
Property registration is a big problem in Kosovo. In part due to ongoing political conflict, some property has not been registered with the government at all since the 1980s, and only 15% of all registered property is owned by women. This creates all kind of economic and social problems as a result – women don’t have collateral for loans, for example, or after the death of a husband or a divorce, women can’t claim rights to property. Many women suffer in marriages but cannot ask for a divorce because they do not have any legal rights to property they share with their husbands.

What barriers do women in Kosovo face when claiming their property rights?
Women have strong property rights under the law in Kosovo, but implementation of these laws is weak, and many women face difficulties in claiming their property. GIZ (the German development agency) is currently funding a project on Land Management that includes a study on women’s property rights in Kosovo. When this study is finalized and released it will tell us a lot about the barriers women face to claiming their property rights.

It can be very difficult and intimidating for a woman to assert her rights with a husband or partner. How does Women for Women International encourage women to do this?
Women for Women International’s training program works to raise the awareness of women about their rights. We also invite local leaders to come speak at our training sessions and explain the laws that protect their rights. We are also planning to use the Për Të Mirën Tonë campaign videos to generate discussion about decision-making, sharing property, and negotiation in our trainings.

Our program also encourages women to start businesses, either as individuals, or as part of a network, such as an association or cooperative. For many of them, participation in a business is the first step to understanding and asserting their rights to property. There is much more we hope to do to support gender equality in property rights for the women we serve, and that is why we are so pleased to have the opportunity to be involved in the Për Të Mirën Tonë project and the national advocacy effort to have more property registered in women’s names.

How do other women support each other in asserting their rights and becoming more involved in making decisions about issues that affect them?
During their time in the 12-month training program, the women become very close, and they encourage each other. During the last training module, they learn about how social networks give them ways to work together as well. Our monitoring and evaluation data confirms that their involvement in decision-making in the home and community increases as a result of participating in the program and connecting to a social support network.

Visit our Other Ways to Give section to find out how you also can support the women of Kosovo as they transform their lives.