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 is that they 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 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 to bring this situation to the attention of the public and to prompt reflection and a change of attitude about the right of women to own and use property. PRP has begun these efforts with a media campaign in Kosovo using TV, radio and the social media, 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.
For this media campaign PRP has developed and produced in this Quarter a total of twenty media products. These include public service announcements (PSAs), news feature stories, and radio advertisements.
The media products have been designed for three different target audiences — women of ages 18-35; men of ages 18-35; and parents of ages 45-65 — because these groups have the most impact on attitudes and behaviors affecting women’s ability to exercise their property rights.
It should be noted that these media products target both the Albanian and Serbian communities within Kosovo, and feature interviews with Kosovo citizens as well as vignettes about Kosovo women who have used property to benefit themselves, their families and their communities. The appearance in these products of real citizens who speak their own minds and share their person experience gives their message an authenticity and a compelling appeal. These products are well received and have generated many positive responses and comments.
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.