Women in Kosovo own a disproportionately small share of property. The USAID Property Rights Program (PRP) conducted a national survey in 2015, which among other things, revealed that only 16% of women in Kosovo own real property. Other research has corroborated these general findings. This situation poses a number of potentially negative consequences for women in particular and for Kosovo society in general. For the women, this can mean complete economic dependency on others; lost opportunities to pursue personal dreams and ambitions; and a reduced ability to help others in their families and in society. For the society, this means that women lack the opportunity to become entrepreneurs and create new businesses, to help the economy grow and to generate employment for others.
The reason why women own little property can be traced to patriarchal custom and traditions. Property has traditionally been passed on to male heirs only, and a daughter has traditionally been viewed as passing to their husband’s family. As a result of these practices, women in Kosovo typically do not inherit property from their parents, or they renounce their inheritance in favor of their brothers and sons. According to the same survey, only around 4% of women inherit real property from their parents. The most common reasons cited in the survey for this are adherence to traditional patriarchal values and accepted views on the appropriate roles for women (68% of women surveyed affirm this); a lack of knowledge of one’s legal rights; a reluctance to assert one’s rights; and a reluctance to deal with formal institutions.
To help address this, PRP is undertaking a number of activities designed to change common practices using legal reforms and public advocacy. Here is one example of these efforts: PRP worked closely with the Agency for Gender Equality to draft an administrative instruction under the Law on Gender Equality that makes it possible for spouses to register their property jointly. PRP also facilitated discussion and coordination between the AGE and other relevant government bodies, such as the Kosovo Cadastral Agency and the Ministry of Finance. In addition, PRP produced an animated video (in Albanian and Serbian versions) for Kosovo television to inform the public about the administrative instruction and provide guidance on how they can register property jointly.
The animated video was unveiled at a round-table on the administrative instruction that was sponsored by the AGE and chaired by the Prime Minister, with remarks by USAID Mission Director James Hope.
This work, and the production of the animated video, complement PRP’s media campaign underway, for which PRP has developed a total of 24 media products for television, radio, and social media, under the rubric, For Our Common Good, under the auspices of the Office of the President of the Republic of Kosovo and in close cooperation with the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Kosovo.To complement this national media campaign PRP is developing a variety of other kinds of public outreach activities to help reshape the attitudes about women’s property rights, including local grassroots advocacy, connecting small business women with local role models and mentors, and other forms of outreach designed to gain the attention and interest of local communities.
To complement this national media campaign PRP is developing a variety of other kinds of public outreach activities to help reshape the attitudes about women’s property rights, including local grassroots advocacy, connecting small business women with local role models and mentors, and other forms of outreach designed to gain the attention and interest of local communities.