Every March, we celebrate women and International Women’s Day. On this landmark day in the calendar, we celebrate all women and their diversities. Women around the world deserve to live in a world where they have a sustainable future with equal rights and opportunities.
This year, we celebrated an incredible effort by women and girls globally who have worked hard to shape a better and equal future and also to recapture life from the COVID – 19 pandemics.
As we know, the situation with COVID – 19 pandemics has had a huge impact on everybody’s lives for a whole year now. Besides disrupting every part of the society, this situation has wreaked havoc on the lives of students and youth in general. This has greatly affected young girls and women from Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities as well.
To tackle this issue, this year, IPKO Foundation together with UN Women Kosovo and supported by the British Embassy in Kosovo, have joined together to implement the “Return to (New) Normal” project. Through this project, we have identified Prishtinë, Fushë Kosova, Gjakova, Peja and Mitrovica as five municipalities with the lowest rate of school attendance by young girls and women and also with high rates of vulnerability to dropping out of school due to the impact of the COVID – 19 pandemic. The main objective of this project was to identify this issue by helping young girls and women through raising awareness of the importance of education. During the implementation, we have held training for teachers. This training helped the teachers identify their students who show signs of losing interest at school and those who are prone to drop-out of school.
The lockdowns that were happening across Kosovo and worldwide have made the situation hard for students. Because the institutions are trying to minimize the transmission potential of COVID – 19 to the communities, the online system of learning became a critical point of education world-wide.
But, the inequality for the young girls and women from the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian Community regarding the access to technology and to educational resources have affected their education. The schools closing down intensified the previous existing inequalities and now the young girls and women were at a higher risk of getting a quality education. The Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian community in Kosovo is particularly vulnerable to exclusion and also from discrimination from the society and institutions. The youth have little motivation to get involved because of the challenges they face – inequality, discrimination, knowledge, low education attainment and poverty amongst others.
Through “Returning to the (New) Normal” project, we have carried out the distribution of 190 laptops to young girls and women from the five municipalities. As digital literacy is very important during this situation, we have held training on basic IT skills. Through these laptops and training, we are pushing these young girls and women to increase their awareness on the importance of education. During this project, our aim was not to only give laptops and teach the young girls and women how to use them. Another important factor was raising awareness to the parents on the importance of education and attending school. This aim was achieved by the door-to-door campaign, where our teams informed each parent for the girls’ future to attend schools.
The partnership between IPKO Foundation, UN Women Kosovo and British Embassy in Prishtina will continue to increase awareness on the importance of young girls and womens’ education and also stop the drop-out of school rate at vulnerable communities such as that of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian Community.
As 2020 was a dramatically different experience, we are committed to build these girls’ skills, prepare them for future endeavors in their education and offer them a teaching experience where they will have a chance to broaden their knowledge, adapt, and return to the (new) normal.