January 21, 2019 | Monday
The first talk in a series of debates called ‘EU gender talks’ was held on 21 January at the European Union Information and Culture Centre (EUICC) in Pristina.
The talks will give people representing different groups of interest in Kosovo the opportunity to speak about gender issues. The sessions will include topics such as women in decision-making processes, access to justice, political representation and elections, and education to achieve gender equality.
Under the topic ‘Gender and people with special needs’, the first talk welcomed the Head of the EU Office/EU Special Representative, Nataliya Apostolova, and Elvana Shala, Ambassador of Goodwill for Kosovo, in front of an audience that was very engaged and was actively asking questions and presenting concrete solutions towards the sensitive issue of disability.
Apostolova stated that women who have special needs in Kosovo face double discrimination and encounter various challenges in everyday life, and that this needs to change and should be tackled institutionally.
“The rights of people with special needs, as any other human rights issue in Kosovo, suffers from the same illness: although legislation and strategies for the rights of people with special needs are adopted and in place, their implementation remains a challenge and the budget is not there. People with special needs face challenges in everyday life starting from non-inclusion, prejudices, problems with the education system, problems with public access spaces and access to the labour market, just to name few. Yet, all they want is integration, inclusion, acceptance, equal rights and opportunities”, said Ambassador Apostolova during her remarks.
Elvana Shala, Ambassador of Goodwill for Kosovo and herself part of the special needs community, highlighted in the debate that it was not easy for her to become an ambassador considering the fact that she had limited access to a lot of institutions in Kosovo, and yet she never surrendered.
“We shouldn’t hide these people from society. I know there is a lot of discrimination but our community should be more persistent towards regulating laws that will make our lives better in Kosovo. There is a lack of civic mindset but we need to have a voice”, stated Elvana Shala during the debate.
During the talk, the Ombudsman Hilmi Jashari, and Habit Hajredini, on behalf of the Office of Good Governance within the Office of the Prime Minister of Kosovo, joined the discussion by offering insight into what these institutions can do to help people with special needs, and how the government and the whole institutional spectrum in Kosovo can help so that people with special needs will be more integrated within society.
After the debate, the Ambassador officially opened the exhibition ‘Beauty begins with us’, with photos of people with special needs during a fashion show dedicated entirely to them, held in December 2018 in Pristina.
Eloida Alija is one of the children included in the exhibition, and she is extremely happy to be part of it as well as to share her view of the world using fashion shows and taking part in different cultural activities.
The exhibition will stay open for 15 days, until the beginning of February, at the EUICC premises in Pristina.