Women’s Empowerment to Environmental Justice
Environmental issues such as climate change, clean water, air pollution and preserving natural resources are important to women and their families, and women have the opportunity to inspire and lead others to act consciously about how their actions can help or harm the earth.
In the modern world, women fight against global trends, and their mutual cooperation will effect change. Ideally, with the support of national/international non-governmental organizations and other relevant institutions, women should have recognized themselves and acknowledge to the world that they not only have the right to participate in environmental issues but they have different relationship with environment including different needs, responsibilities, and knowledge about earth resources. This is why women are affected in a different way compared to men by environmental problems and challenges.
Environmental issues such as climate change, clean water, air pollution and preserving natural resources are important to women and their families, and women have the opportunity to inspire and lead others to act consciously about how their actions can help or harm the earth. Women make up the majority of the earth's population and are vulnerable to detrimental changes to the planet therefore we have a vested interest in taking care of it. Women should be empowered so that their actions lead to a healthier, more peaceful planet. Because women are in particular vulnerable to the earth's sustainability, their involvement with environmental efforts is crucial.
Hence, in order to strengthen women's role toward environmental justice, REC is implementing a project "Women's Empowerment to Environmental Justice" which is funded by UNDP Kosovo / Advancing Gender Justice Project. Referring to the Millennium Development Goals 2015 (Goal 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women, and Goal 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability), this project aims to strengthen women's access on environmental justice by providing proper information on Legal recourse/advocacy, stimulating her for any official action to be undertaken when necessary.
Specific objectives include:
• Raise awareness on using opportunities to appeal in responding to derogations (violation of rights) regarding;
• Raise awareness on case development, involvement of legal professionals, and bringing the appeal to court.
The Project has started its implementation on November 2012 and will end on May 2013. REC has developed a research about the base knowledge of women in particular for the environmental right and environmental issues that preoccupied women in Kosovo. Results were used by REC to shape the training that was held recently "Environmental Justice for Women". Training contributors who were mainly representatives from women run NGOs informed closely the participants about Legal Resources/Advocacy, legal and administrative procedures of Kosovo, in order to trigger an official action in response to the derogations with regard to: Public access to information and right on the association/campaign and demonstration of environmental issues and participation in decision-making processes.
Recommendations suggest that:
- Women in Kosovo can play a powerful role in democracy consolidation in Kosovo, especially in terms of access to environmental information, participation in decision making and access to environmental justice.
- NGOs and civil society should strengthen efforts to further advance legal awareness about environmental rights as a precondition for the realization of environmental rights.
- NGOs through donations / support from foreign institutions must be more demanding in terms of media, publications, seminars and trainings to send the message of the importance of environmental protection, including, but not limiting to the women's section.
- To empower the capacity of women run NGOs to strengthen their influence in environmental policy as well as in drafting the legislative agenda that affects the environment.
- Women should be treated equally with men as an important strength for promoting sustainable development and a healthy environment.
- Public authorities in Kosovo, including Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning and other executive agencies should intensify efforts to develop a broad campaign with public consultations with women's NGOs so that their impact is tangible in the decision making process.
Kosovo Law on Gender Equality translated into Braille (DG/Women Empowerment)
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) continues support to people with disabilities or special needs. Law on Gender Equality has been translated into Braille alphabet for the blind and visually impaired people.
Association of person's with children paralyses "Handicap Kosova", one of the 10 beneficiary NGOs of the UNDP Advancing Gender Justice Project, organized, on 10 April, the last roundtable on "Law on gender equality and legal institutions" regarding the implementation of the law in accordance with particular needs of people with physical disabilities or special needs.
During the roundtable, UNDP Advancing Gender Justice Project team has distributed the Law on Gender Equality in Braille alphabet to the heads of Republican Committee of Blind Women of Kosovo, Ms. Bajramshahe Jetullahu, and to the Association of Blind and Visually Impairment of Kosova, Mr. Bujar Kadriu.
Roundtable discussions were held with representatives of other organizations of disabled people including the Down Syndrome Kosova, Kosovan Association of Deaf and Handikos. In addition, representatives from different institutions have joined to discuss means of ensuring the applicability of the law, including representatives from Commission on Human Rights, Gender Equality, Missing Persons and Petitions, Office for Good Governance, Human Rights, Equal Opportunities and Gender Issues, Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, and Directorate for Education and Directorate of Health and Social Welfare of the Municipality of Prishtinë/Priština.
There was a very productive interaction and discussion between all participants on the main issues and problems concerning the law implementation for the persons with disabilities, the gaps in the same law, serious concerns raised on the non implementation of the law, and high discrimination of the same community when it comes to their social, health and employment and their reintegration in general. In this respect, findings, conclusions and recommendations were drawn on what needs to be done and what are the immediate actions needed to be undertaken in order to overcome the problems.
Round table on “Law for gender equality and legal institutions” with women with dissabilities (DG/IG/Women Empowerment)
UNDP Advancing Gender Justice Project aims to provide a significant contribution towards making the justice system more accessible for women and ensuring protection of their rights and to bring a gender perspective in the formal and informal institutions of the justice sector
“Advancing Gender Justice Project” AGJP /UNDP – Round table on “Law for gender equality and legal institutions” organized by Handicap Kosovo in the frame of AGJP grant provision scheme to NGOs
Round table on “Law for gender equality and legal institutions” with women with dissabilities
UNDP Advancing Gender Justice Project aims to provide a significant contribution towards making the justice system more accessible for women and ensuring protection of their rights and to bring a gender perspective in the formal and informal institutions of the justice sector. The micro grants component is being implemented to engage NGOs/CSOs to put into practice projects that address access to justice needs of all communities in Kosovo, with a special focus on women rights and empowerment.
One of the NGO beneficiaries, the Association of Persons with Children Paralyses ‘Handicap Kosova’ is implementing the ‘Law for Gender Equality and Legal Institutions’ project. The project aims to raise the awareness of women with disabilities for their rights and to facilitate their access to legal institutions as guaranteed by the law. The activities include an analysis of the problems or barriers to access women with disabilities in legislative institutions; organize round-tables in three municipalities in Kosovo: Mitrovica, Gjilan/Gnjilane; Prishtine/Pristina, and establish focus groups
On 28th January 2013, Handicap Kosova organized a round table in Pristina. In this session, 10 women with disability were present, representing the main Disabled People's Organizations (DPOs): Kosovan Association of Deaf, Association of Blind and Visually Impairment of Kosovo, Down Syndrome Kosovo, Civic War Invalids, and Republican Committee of Blind Women in Kosovo. Ms. Suzana Novobërdaliu, the Deputy of Kosovo Assembly Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights, Gender Equality, Missing Persons and Petitions was present jointly with other participants from local institutions as Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, Social Political Institution, UNDP representatives as well as.
Joint session with sexual tortured victims under ‘Empowerment of Human Rights Platform of Sexual Rape Victims in Kosovo’
In the frame of its continuous efforts in providing a significant contribution towards making the justice system more accessible for women and ensuring protection of their rights and to bring a gender perspective in the formal and informal institutions of the justice sector, the UNDP's Advancing Gender Justice project has also launched the micro grants component to engage NGOs/CSOs to implement projects that address access to justice needs of all communities in Kosovo, with a special focus on women rights and empowerment.
One of the UNDP NGO beneficiaries, Kosova Rehabilitation Centre for Torture Victims, is implementing the project: 'Empowerment of Human Rights Platform of Sexual Rape Victims in Kosovo'. The project aims to empower vulnerable women/sexual rape victims through the provision of legal aid and increasing their awareness on their rights through provision of legal aid and advocacy activities. It will provide free legal aid services with a focus on procedural and clinical legal assistance to known women who were raped, information dissemination on legal aid services, organizing a national conference to raise awareness and promote the rights of war raped women.
On January 23, 2013, the KRCT organized a Joint Session in "Villa Germia" with sexual rape victims with 32 participants - rape victims from different areas of Kosovo, Nina Pelkonen (Prosecutor of EULEX, War Crimes Unit), Feride, Rushiti (Executive Director-KRCT), Adem Demaçi (former political prisoner, KRCT honorable member), and other women representatives.
Nina Pelkonen and Feride Rushiti focused on the rape phenomena and its consequences, procedures to access the judicial authorities and called women rape victims to actively cooperate in addressing and denouncing their case at the police and investigative authorities.
Women participants were encouraged to approach investigative authorities by saying that even thought there are 13 years after the war, followed by so much sufferings, now it is enough and there is the right time... "You've your right in your cause and you have support to do that. You have support from NGO's in Kosovo such is KRCT to approach to concrete cases and support them. The first step we need is to have two or more women's who support stories of each either. As much as we have supportive statements as strong the case will be".
Women, who were sexually abused during 1999, are very thankful to the UNDP for the support to assist this vulnerable group.