Gender equality is central to EU membership (Romania) and accession treaties (Albania, BiH, Kosovo, Montenegro, and Serbia). Nonetheless, women in political life in SEE face many obstacles, including gender-based discrimination and stifling traditional gender roles. Women are politically underrepresented in all SEE countries, and in all decision-making bodies. Women from ethnic minority groups as well as LGBTQI+ communities face further marginalization and exclusion.

On October 17, 2021, Kosovo’s voters went to the polls for the fourth local election in 13 years since independence in 2008. The vote elected the mayors and members of assemblies in 38 municipalities, with the post of mayor changing parties in thirteen municipalities. The Self Determination Movement (LVV) did not capitalize on its support gained in the parliamentary elections in February 2021. The Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) and the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) won the most mayoral posts and seats in the local assemblies, reversing their decline seen in the February elections.

Ending Online Violence Against Women in Politics

NDI believes all people have the right to live in a world that respects their dignity, security, and political rights—and the digital world is no exception. A critical investment to advance democracy is to create an internet that enables all people to be politically engaged. This is why, for years, NDI has worked to address the gendered attacks, including disinformation, faced by 50 percent of the world’s population when attempting to engage online. 

After 20 years of civil war between the region of Bougainville and Papua New Guinea (PNG), Bougainville voted for independence from PNG in a 2019 referendum conducted as part of a peace agreement ending the conflict. Since then, the PNG National Government and Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) have embarked on a post-referendum consultation process to decide the political future of the province. However, ample public consultation, including by women, youth, and interest groups, would be needed to guarantee buy-in and lasting results of the peace process.

A strong and vibrant democracy is dependent on information integrity to enable citizens to hold their government accountable on the basis of accurate information. Since independence in 2008, Kosovo has made great strides in developing strong democratic institutions. However, the country faces deep partisan divides, unresolved ethnic tensions, marginalization of women, frequent electoral campaigns, and low government responsiveness to citizens’ concerns. This environment makes Kosovo susceptible to anti-democratic narratives which spread quickly and widely, affecting public opinion.

The internet is a tool that can simplify and encourage democratic engagement, but the rise of online disinformation challenges even the world’s most robust democracies. While the most recognizable disinformation campaigns are related to national politics, disinformers frequently employ narratives targeting women’s gender and sexuality in order to disrupt democracy. This is often then amplified by media agents and the general population, who may not have the intent to drive disinformation nor the capacity to discern it.

Changing The Face Of Politics Podcast

Final Episode: Maria Ressa interviews Julia Gillard

September 1, 2021

In April 2021, Kosovo citizens were more optimistic than in the fall about the direction of the country. Economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and vaccination against the virus joined longstanding concerns related to unemployment and corruption. Concerns about the safety of the vaccine were high, and belief in false Covid-19 narratives remained, just before Kosovo began its broader national vaccination campaign.

NDI cautions that opinions from this research represent a snapshot from April 2021 only.

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