On February 21st, 2017, Women for Women International – Kosovo became Kosova - Women for Women, a locally registered organization. This is an exciting evolution for Women for Women International and part of our global mission to create sustainable local affiliates in stable countries, so we can focus on increasing the numbers of women survivors of current conflict such as Syrian and Yezidi refugees. Where the local people cannot be served by their governments or local organizations, that is when international solidary and action is most necessary, and where we intend to focus most of our work. This next stage of evolution comes from our belief that where there is peace and stability, local organizations and people are best at meeting the needs of their community.
The transition of the Kosovo office to a local affiliate is a step towards that goal as the global operation of Women for Women International takes a step back to allow Kosova - Women for Women to run its own operation. “We are proud to have served over 32,000 women since 1999 through our yearlong program and look forward to our new yet continuing partnership. Kosovo women have always taken the lead - it is core to our work everywhere that local staff lead. The change is that it is governed locally and sustainable financially,” says Laurie Adams, Women for Women International.
Women for Women International first opened its doors in Kosovo in 1999, to help the women survivors of the Kosovo war when an estimated 20,000 Kosovar women were subjected to systematic rape. Since then it has trained over 32,000 women in its 12-month core program. Women for Women International also leaves behind a Women’s Opportunity Center in Kosovo for the continued use by the Kosovar women. We gifted this building to Kosova- Women For Women that was designed by Sharon Davis and funded in large part by Private Equity Foundation.
This transition marks the coming of age of Kosova - Women for Women as it becomes a self-sufficient entity. They will continue to be part of the Women for Women International family and benefit from opportunities created by the international organization.
At the inauguration event on February 21st, Director Iliriana Gashil presented future plans for Kosova - Women for Women to women graduates from the program, Former Kosovo President Jahjaga, Michael Stambaugh, Vice President, Human Resources and Support at Women for Women International and Brita Fernandez Schmidt, Executive Director from Women for Women International – UK.