Engaging the Youth in Discussions on Human Development and Gender Equality

Jul 24, 2015

In order to increase knowledge about Human Development (HD) among students, UNDP in Kosovo was invited to organize a workshop as part of the International Summer School at the University of Prishtina (UP). This educational program aims to bring together local and international professors and lecturers to contribute their knowledge in the field of humanities, social and natural sciences, engineering, etc. through courses, workshops, public discussions and lectures. 

“The workshop on Human Development organized by the UNDP Kosovo was really useful for me because I learned more about the organization itself and how it functions on both a local and global level. I gained new knowledge about the private and public sectors in the context of Kosovo. I also developed new personal skills through doing a presentation in front of a group of people without being under stress. Another great benefit is that I met new friends during the workshop,” says Gazmend Ibrahimi, an HD workshop participant from Macedonia.

Mr. Denis Nushi, Human Development Project Manager for UNDP, led the workshop, where over 60 students from different countries participated in five interactive lectures that included discussions, presentations and group work. The main theme throughout the workshop was the importance of HD and how to relate it to the context of Kosovo, which naturally resulted in interesting debates surrounding the core problems and possible solutions. The lectures examined the concepts of measuring and reporting on HD and how the UNDP works within this field. The presentations were divided into a series of different topics, such as migration as a force for development, social inclusion, private sector and employment to emphasize the different parts that make up the whole of Human Development. The students engaged in open discussion with each other and posed challenging and thought-provoking questions. In addition, they offered their personal reflections on some of the issues examined in the lectures. 

After a successful week of Human Development teaching, which ended with submission of essays and final presentations on HD topics, UNDP and UP organized a forum on Gender Balance in the context of Kosovo. UN Development Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Andrew Russell, joined UP professor, Ms. Hasnije Ilazi, in leading the forum. UNDP Kosovo has adopted gender mainstreaming as the strategy for promoting gender equality throughout our work. Consequently, UNDP is always looking for ways to engage with the community in discussions surrounding gender equality and inclusiveness in Kosovo. 

Professor Ilazi discussed the current system of liberalism as it applies to the situation in Kosovo. “It is too focused on individuals and does not take family and other cultural institutions into consideration. Saying we need equal possibilities for women and men is too abstract.” She discussed splitting the public and private spheres and creating legislation based on value systems. Presently, there is a very clear imbalance between women and men, particularly when it comes to professions that have been traditionally regarded as a “man’s job”.

Andrew Russell’s lecture complimented Professor Ilazi’s by challenging the students to think about the discrepancies between de jure and de facto gender equality. “Although Kosovo’s legal framework offers de jure equality for women and men, de facto discrimination against women continues to result in the inadequate protection of several basic human rights guaranteed by Kosovo laws.” Put more simply, although women and men are treated as equals on paper, they are not treated equally in practice. The reality is that women face underrepresentation both quantitatively and qualitatively in decision-making processes at all levels in Kosovo. Perceived traditional gender roles pose a barrier to women’s participation in the decision-making processes. 

Burbuqe Dobranja, UNDP Kosovo Communications Associate, summarized the issue of gender inequality perfectly when she made this statement at the end of the forum: “There is no such thing as more or less equality. There is just equality or not. It is simple.” 

The workshop and the forum stimulated a dialogue that is beneficial to both the participants and UNDP because Human Development is centered on improving the lives of the people. UNDP highly values the ideas and opinions of the youth because they are the ones who will be facing these issues in the future.

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