After an almost ten-month-long negotiation, a memorandum of understanding has been signed between the University of Pristina and the Agency of Gender Equality, whereby the university will offer the subject Gender and Economics as part of a degree programme.
In a significant victory for the process of ensuring gender equality in Kosovo, the Agency for Gender Equality (AGE) in the Office of the Prime Minister signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of Pristina, for the latter to include a syllabus on the subject of Gender and Economics as part of the Bachelor’s Degree of Economics. The signing represents the culmination of a months-long process by the NIRAS-led long-term consultancy to AGE, which worked towards cementing closer relations with academia and introducing gender into tertiary education in Kosovo.
Funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), NIRAS’s consultancy project with AGE began in 2016 and will run until May 2020. Together with consortium partner CPM International, NIRAS is working with AGE staff to enhance their knowledge on gender equality mainstreaming in the Kosovan public policy framework as well as in public administration organisational culture and structures. To date, the project has been instrumental in introducing and training civil servants on conducting a Gender Equality Impact Assessment for all proposed legal frameworks, as part of the Government of Kosovo’s Regulatory Impact Assessment Initiative. The project also supported AGE in conducting its first ex-post exercise on the Law on Gender Equality (LGE), and is currently working to establish a comprehensive monitoring system for the LGE. Further, the project was responsible for crafting AGE’s communication strategy and ensuring its roll-out. A key part of the project’s activities has been strengthening AGE’s network with other institutions, particularly academia, to enhance collaboration on and advocacy of gender equality and combat gender stereotypes in school textbooks in the pre-tertiary level.
The signing of the memorandum.
AGE’s Executive Director Mrs Edi Gusia and Professor Dr Marjan Dema, Rector of the University of Pristina, signed the memorandum in a ceremony on 13 November. Prof. Dr Dema shared his joy upon signing the memorandum, saying that he has been interested in cooperating with AGE for some time, and the new subject will be of great service to both students at the university and, eventually, society at large.
“Every year, we have about 10,000 students coming from all around Kosovo – urban and rural areas alike," explained Professor Ardiana Gashi, a young and highly esteemed professor of economics in the Pristina University, who has also been instrumental in bringing this initiative to life as a consultant to the project. "One day, they will become policymakers and parents, and gender equality will be one of the key and fundamental principles on how they propose and defend their policies, and how they will bring up their children. The Introduction of Gender Economics course is an important milestone for the Faculty of Economics, and it is the right school to start with educating our students on the topic. Our hope is in the youth. Therefore it is of the utmost importance to educate young people, so they properly understand gender inequality and become informed of means to redress it. Doing this, we will be able to influence the mindsets of their relatives and friends. I am happy and grateful to be part of this initiative.”
In the past two decades, Kosovo has made notable progress towards gender equality and ensuring women’s rights. The country has comprehensive and advanced legislation, strong institutional frameworks around gender equality and women’s rights, and civil society organisations that work hard on those issues. Yet progress is hard to come by. As Project Team Leader Blerinda Idrizi noted, “Kosovo has, since the end of the war in 1999, been a fertile ground for the international community to institutionalise models, ideas, and norms that aim to advance the cause of human rights as a whole and gender equality in particular. However, the models that will survive and that will be embraced are those that remain embedded in the initiatives of local people. The project has introduced the idea; the University embraced it. There is commitment to the causes of gender equality and human rights and, with this commitment, change is inevitable.”
Staff from the Faculty of Economics of the University of Pristina, AGE, and the consultancy project attended the signing ceremony.
Supported by NIRAS, AGE and the University of Pristina will be taking further steps to execute the memorandum of understanding. AGE is currently in the process of procuring copyrights to and translations of four textbooks that will be used as part of the syllabus. One of the textbooks' authors has agreed to license their copyright free of charge. If all goes smoothly, the University of Pristina Faculty of Economics will be the first institution in the Balkans to offer gender economics at a tertiary level.