In 2018, thirty outstanding participants from NDI Kosovo’s 2018 Week of Women were selected to take part in an intensive six-month skills-building academy called the Women’s Leadership Academy (WLA), which focuses on issue identification and policy development. This program is part of NDI’s long-term assistance, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), to building responsive, effective and accountable political processes and institutions in Kosovo by fostering greater political participation among women, youth and minorities, including as political activists, party members and elected representatives. WLA provides a series of training sessions and mentorship meetings to equip participants with the skills they need for effective political engagement and advocacy. In addition, WLA provides crucial opportunities for participants to network and connect with one another across ethnic, geographic, and party lines, learning about common concerns and developing shared strategies to approach them.
In 2018, WLA participants hailed from 18 ethnically diverse municipalities across the country and represented nine different political parties. Participants joined forces to create four cross-party and cross-sector initiatives on priority issues they wanted to address in their communities: quality of education, domestic violence, drug abuse among minors, and women’s representation in local-level institutions. NDI coached participants through months of research and consultations with community members, local government representatives, and national non-governmental organizations working on each of these issues. Participants then used the data and knowledge they collected to create policy briefs on each topic. With further support to hone stakeholder analysis and presentation skills, participants organized a series of roundtable events to share the findings and recommendations of their policy briefs with civil society organizations, political parties, and the Women’s Caucus in the Kosovo Assembly, including as part of the Assembly’s series of events celebrating the International Day of Democracy on September 15, 2018.
By working to empower new leadership and establishing links with political representatives, NDI encourages national- and local-level leadership within Kosovo’s political parties to be inclusive of people, especially women, who are organizing at the grassroots level and ensure they are fully engaged in political processes.