Volunteering for gender equality in Kosovo
by Clare McCrum
Pristina, Kosovo: In November, to mark the 16 Days of Activism to End Violence against Women in Kosovo, UN Women together with members of the Security and Gender Group, launched an online campaign to raise awareness of gender-based violence. As a UN Volunteer Intern for Gender and Advocacy with UN Women in Kosovo, I was able to participate in this great initiative, which is part of the global UNiTE campaign to end violence against women.
Since its establishment in 2008, the Security and Gender Group has gathered representatives of UN agencies, international organizations, government institutions and civil society organizations to promote, enhance and coordinate efforts for gender equality and the empowerment of women in Kosovo.
During the 16 days of activism, women and men across Kosovo came together to discuss gender-based violence, how it affects society and what can be done to prevent violence, and protect those who suffer from violence. The online campaign is an innovative approach to engage young people in Kosovo with gender-based violence prevention, and offer ideas on how people can individually and collectively make a difference in their communities, speaking out against violence and joining a global network of people united to bring an end to this violation of human rights. The website can be viewed at www.16days-noviolence-ks.com, and offers valuable information and advice related to gender-based violence, both in Kosovo and across the world.
As part of the activities during the 16 days of activism, UN Volunteers also organized an inclusive dialogue between members of the Kosovo Albanian, Kosovo Serb and Kosovo Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities to discuss the problem of gender-based violence as it affects all communities in Kosovo. This was a great platform to discuss how volunteer actions can make a real and lasting contribution to the lives of people in our communities, and how volunteering for gender equality can help to build bridges between groups regardless of age, race, ethnicity and geography.
The website that has been created to mark the 16 days of activism is a resource that can be used by members of all communities, and is a valuable contribution to sharing knowledge, building partnerships and learning from best practices across Kosovo. This website will continue to be active after the 16 days of activism come to an end, and can be built on year after year to reflect the growing developments, both in Kosovo and globally, in the fight to end gender-based violence and ensure that a clear message is sent to everyone: that violence against women and girls should not, and will not, be tolerated.
For me, the experience of being a UN Volunteer was a great way to share my skills and experience, helping to have a positive impact on the lives of women and girls in Kosovo. During this time I was able to work with, and learn from, some inspirational women and organizations who endeavour to work towards the development of their communities, and this demonstrated to me the values and impact of volunteerism.
Clare McCrum is a UN Volunteer Intern for Gender and Advocacy, UN Women
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