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news 08 Nov 17

Kosovo Equality Laws Remain Dead Letter, Report Says

A policy paper concludes that although most directives and concepts from the EU gender equality 'aquis' have been transposed into Kosovo legislation, the laws are not being put into practice. 

Die Morina
Launching of Policy Paper: Kosovo’s Progress in Aligning Its Laws with the European Union Gender Equality Acquis. Photo: Kosovo Women's Networ

A report by the Kosovo Women’s Network, assessing the extent to which Kosovo's laws are aligned with the EU "acquis" on gender equality, says domestic gender-related legislation is not being implemented.

The report warns that it is unknown even if Kosovo is meeting its own legal standards in several areas, due to the lack of hard data.

Although Kosovo law now requires employers to pay men and women equally for the same work, it is unkown how Kosovo scores in this area due to the non-existence of a gender pay gap index, for example.

An additional problem is the common use of three to six-month working contracts. “If women become pregnant in the interim, they do not have employment protection as foreseen by the EU gender equality 'aquis,'” the report read.

The report also says there is no information on whether the EU concept of occupational social security schemes is being implemented in practice.

Nita Luci, a university professor on gender studies, said that in addition to institutional shortcomings – the lack of mechanisms for implementing the law – the major obstacle is simple disrespect for gender equality laws.

“Most leaders in institutions and most decision makers are men, and they function based on patriarchal values – the same values that placed them in those positions," she told BIRN.

"They [decision makers] take for granted that they deserve their positions, and see women as unworthy but as a numerical fulfillment, which then undermines the law,” she added.

“There must be a political will to implement laws. This issue is not seen as very important. This is one of the problems,” Luci noted.

She referred by way of example to women's need to have their own property, if they are to be any position to take out loans.

“Even in educational institutions there are many prejudices, there are many gender-based exemptions,” she observed.

The report says Kosovo’s equality body needs to be strengthened. “The Agency for Gender Equality does not seem to have sufficient power and adequate resources for its work,” it reads.

The report also underlines the need to train legal actors on the meaning and implementation of EU gender equality laws, with a special focus on judges, lawyers and civil society, and particularly on associations focusing on gender equality and law faculties focusing on labour laws.

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