Men’s campaign overshadowing women

Representatives of organizations working on protection of women’s rights told Radio Free Europe that female candidates running for election to the Assembly of Kosovo are not being given sufficient room in rallies held by their respective political parties.

They say the pre-election campaign is being dominated by men both in televised debates as well as meetings with citizens.

Luljeta Demolli, head of the Kosovar Gender Studies Centre, said it is absurd that all political parties pledge to promote women’s rights while the reality is different.

“Presence of women in the pre-election campaign is low. In television debates, we see a drastic absence of female politicians as well as of persons that analyze programs of parties. We have leaders that mention women or occasionally speak about women’s rights but they are superficially treated and not as gender equality issue should,” Demolli said.

Demolli also highlighted that what is evident in this pre-election period is that women candidates tend to have meetings only with women and men with men.

“On social media one can see in a daily basis how some women got together with some other women, while men met men, everything separate.”

Another concern raised by civil society organizations is the unequal representation of women in election lists. Political parties have already submitted the lists to the Central Election Commission and according to spokesperson Valmir Elezi, the gender quota has been respected. He said there is a total of 1068 candidates running for 6 October elections of whom 343 women.

However, Blerta Aliu from the “Democracy in Action” coalition of NGOs, said the gender representation in Kosovo is not equal due to inconsistencies in the applicable legislation. “We do not have lists with 50/50 ratio. Women are represented through the 30 percent quota,” she said adding that the Law on Gender Equality stipulates equal representation of women in all legislative, executive, judicial and other public institutions while the Law on General Elections sets the required level of women’s representation at 30 percent.