Women’s economic empowerment in the Western Balkans - Meeting 3

Past event Pristina, Kosovo

Peace, Security & Defence
Women’s economic empowerment in the Western Balkans - Meeting 3

What happened?

Prevailing gender roles in the Western Balkans cause unequal economic opportunities for women and men. Women often face the burden of caring for the household, children and the elderly, and thus, engage in unpaid labour.

The third meeting of Friends of Europe’s Working Group on women’s economic empowerment in the Western Balkans set a special focus on women in rural areas and in the agriculture sector, who are likely to engage in unpaid labour in businesses, which depend on them but are typically not legally owned by them. The meeting welcomed over 30 experts, including national and local government representatives from the Western Balkans, European and international institutions, civil society, academia and the private sector.

The Working Group reached several conclusions on how to empower women in rural areas, including through the enhancement of networking opportunities, strengthening digital literacy and the establishment of online markets to support women entrepreneurs in their commercial endeavours. Involving men, such as fathers, brothers and husbands, was found to be essential for challenging patriarchal norms and increasing awareness of women’s rights in rural areas. The members also recommended strengthening women’s ownership rights through legal provisions and promoting equal access to finance and free legal aid to ensure that women from rural areas have the necessary support and resources to prosper economically and realise their rights.

Women's economic empowerment meeting - 2023





Photo of Fjoralba Caka
Fjoralba Caka

Professor of EU Law at the University of Tirana, former Albanian deputy minister of justice and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Fjoralba Caka

Fjoralba Caka is the former Albanian minister for justice covering European integration and anti-corruption policies. Having started her career as an academic teaching EU Law, she has maintained an ongoing cooperation with civil society organisations. She also served as a lawyer on issues related to strategic litigation and offered legal aid for people in need and for marginalised communities. In addition, she has led projects focusing on youth and national anti-corruption campaigns, including ‘Fighting Corruption in the Higher Education System’ and ‘Bookworm Project – outdoors mini-library’.

Photo of Mila Carovska
Mila Carovska

Former minister of education and science of North Macedonia and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Mila Carovska

Mila Carovska is the former minister of education and science, as well as of labour and social welfare, in North Macedonia. She has also previously served as the deputy prime minister responsible for economic affairs during the transition government in 2020. Carovska is an avid proponent of human rights whose professional career to date has been marked by a commitment to social work on behalf of the most vulnerable and threatened citizens, whether it be Roma, disadvantaged youth, drug addicts or victims of domestic violence. Projects she has managed over the years include organising drama workshops with children housed in institutions, hosting educational workshops, offering consultations for drug users and their families, and conducting field research. Carovska has used her platform to advocate for gender equality, the elimination of violence against women and anti-discrimination.

Armin Cerkez
Armin Čerkez

Founder & CEO of Youth Power and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Armin Čerkez

Armin founded Youth Power, an influential Bosnian NGO which pushes for non-violence, human rights and tolerance in the country. The inspirational work he did on Program Y led to the inclusion of gender-based violence prevention in school curricula. Coming from a region that has historically suffered from religious violence, Armin has championed the need for more inter-faith dialogue. He has also brought his message directly to citizens, providing lessons to prevent alcohol abuse, sexually transmitted diseases and violence in schools.

Photo of Nicole Farnsworth
Nicole Farnsworth

Programme Director and Lead Researcher at the Kosovo Women's Network

Show more information on Nicole Farnsworth

Nicole Farnsworth leads research teams and co-authors reports at Kosovo Women’s’ Network, a network that advocates on behalf of women of all ethnic groups in Kosovo at the local, regional and international level. Originally from the US, Farnsworth has been living and working in Kosovo for 16 years, primarily with local civil society organisations. A sociologist, researcher and gender equality activist, she has written several influential reports on gender equality, gender-based violence, gender-responsive budgeting and integrating a gender perspective in the EU Accession process. Farnsworth is the Team Leader for an EU-funded Action to ‘Empower CSOs in Combatting Discrimination and Furthering Women’s Labour Rights’, implemented by a coalition of six women’s rights groups in the Western Balkans.

Liza Gashi
Liza Gashi

Kosovar Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, and 2022 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Liza Gashi

A Kosovar innovator and entrepreneur, Liza is shaping public discourse around diaspora and civic engagement. As Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, she advocates for the advancement of Kosovo’s policies, legislation and institutional approaches regarding diaspora engagement. She founded the Kosovar committee for the United World Colleges (UWC), a global movement that promotes education as a force to unite people, nationals and cultures, where she served as chairwoman for over a decade. Liza is well known as the Founder and former executive director of GERMIN, an NGO that uses technology and virtual channels to connect and engage with the diaspora community to advance the socio-economic development and democratisation of the Western Balkan region. Additionally, Liza is also the Co-Founder and former managing director of KosovoDiaspora.org, a crowdsourcing digital engagement and diplomacy platform that connects Kosovars to the world and vice versa to promote Kosovo’s statehood internationally.

Dharmendra Kanani
Dharmendra Kanani

Chief Operating Officer and Chief Spokesperson of Friends of Europe

Show more information on Dharmendra Kanani

Prior to joining Friends of Europe, Dharmendra Kanani was director of policy at the European Foundation Centre (EFC). He was the England director at the Big Lottery Fund, the largest independent funder in the UK and fourth largest in the world. Dharmendra has held senior positions in the public and voluntary sectors and advisor to numerous ministerial policy initiatives across the UK.

Photo of Vlora Nushi
Vlora Nushi

Head of Office at UN Women Kosovo

Show more information on Vlora Nushi

Tuzi Nushi serves as the Head of Office at UN Women. She has worked for international organisations for over two decades, specifically with UN Women and UNIFEM for the past twenty years, during which time, Nushi has led multi-sectorial programmes and acted as a driving force behind some of the biggest UN Women initiatives. She has contributed to the women, peace and security agenda, gender-sensitive transitional justice, as well as ending violence against women, women’s economic empowerment through gender-responsive budgeting and promotion of decent work and gender-sensitive occupational, safety and health standards at the workplace. 

Photo of Marija Risteska
Marija Risteska

Founder and Executive Director of the Centre for Research and Policy Making (CRPM)

Show more information on Marija Risteska

Marija Risteska is the Founder and Executive Director of the Centre for Research and Policy Making (CRPM). She also served as the Policy Coordinator for European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Western Balkans Women in Business programme and Co-Chair of the working group for Chapter 19 of the National Convention for the EU Integration 

Maria Suokko
Maria Suokko

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative for Kosovo

Show more information on Maria Suokko

Prior to this she held posts as a Senior Advisor at the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Helsinki 2012-2014 and senior posts in the UNDP. She was a UNDP Programme Specialist at the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific 2006-2010 and Assistant Resident Representative at UNDP China 2001-2005.



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