The Law on Gender Equality aims at greater protection of women's and men's equal rights. But, despite this law, unfortunately there is still a lack of women's participation in politics and decision-making processes, both at national and at municipal level.
Either due to traditional ideas of the role of women in the family, the discriminatory barriers faced by them on the political scene or simply because of the lack of will to be candidates, the result is the same: lack of participation brings the lack of representation, which ultimately leads to dissatisfied citizens who feel that their needs are not taken into consideration.
Women have various methods available to (re) claim their place at the municipal table.
In order to strengthen gender equality within political parties and as a result within the municipality, both Laws on General and Local Elections establish that the list of candidates of a political entity “shall contain at least 30% of certified candidates of the other gender” (Article 7 of the Law on Local Elections and Article 27 of the Law on General Elections). The Law on Local Elections goes even further, pointing out in Article 8 that if the 30% requirement is not respected within a given political entity, i.e., “if the candidates of minority gender within a political entity have not been allocated at least 30% of the total seats for that political entity”, the last elected candidate of the majority gender will be replaced by the next eligible candidate of the opposite gender on the reordered candidate list until the total number of seats allocated to the minority gender becomes at least 30% of the seats of the minority gender within that political entity.
Moreover, another provision that seeks to enforce gender equality within municipal bodies refers to the composition of the Consultative Committees, comprising of 5 to 7 members. However, according to the Administrative Instruction on the Procedure for Establishment, Organization and Competencies of the Municipal Consultative Committees, the Consultative Committees should also "reflect the gender balance" (Article 7).
Although we may call these legal provisions an artificially motivated way to attract more women to assembly seats - even not to attain actual equality, as only 30% of seats are reserved for "the other gender" - such as the opposite gender, the law refers to the less represented gender - they nevertheless serve to put Kosovo as one of the few countries in the Balkan region where women have such a high level of representation in the municipal assembly.
As more influential women take key positions in public institutions, they can inspire others to follow their footsteps and change public opinion about women in politics. But another way to engage at the municipal level and feel that the voice of women is being heard, even if they do not run for election, may be a merger or a proposal for setting up an Ad-hoc Consultative Committee to address issues related to women. Those committees, comprised by citizens and representatives of NGOs, can be important to have more women within the municipal administration machine, but also to find innovative ways to empower them in their daily lives in their municipality.