Ambassador Delawie’s Remarks at the Women in Business Reception

Ambassador Delawie’s Remarks at the Women in Business Reception, March 10, 2017

Good afternoon.  It’s wonderful to be here and I’m very happy to be here for such a special gathering.

I’ve said before that I cannot think of a more vital issue than ensuring that women and girls have access to the same rights, opportunities, and protections as men.  And that they have the same ability to participate in and contribute to their country’s growth.

Next week, as you know, we’ll have events kicking off the Week of Women, and all this month we’re highlighting the tremendous contributions of women to Kosovo’s communities, culture, and economic development.

In fact on Wednesday, I was able to join former President Jahjaga at an event marking International Women’s Day and highlighting the importance of women in business leadership roles in Kosovo.

All across Kosovo, women business owners, entrepreneurs and innovators just like you are taking on such roles, and I’ve met with countless women during my time here whose drive, talent, and sheer fearlessness are transforming Kosovo every day for the better.

We’ve also seen real progress on some of the structural issues that too often leech opportunity and agency away from women in Kosovo.

This year Kosovo moved up to 13th place for starting a business in the World Bank’s Doing Business Report rankings.  And a few months ago, we saw the launch of the Women’s Economic Forum, which will speak with one voice on women’s economic development, and embed women’s economic empowerment as a pillar of the national economic development agenda.

And just last month, I was proud to speak at the launch of your new National Strategy on Property Rights, which has tremendous potential to positively impact women’s economic inclusion and empowerment in Kosovo.

You all know better than I do that there are still far too few opportunities for women to own property or inherit wealth in their own names.

We may not know the full costs of this exclusion, but we do know that only 2% of women in Kosovo have a bank loan secured by immoveable property.

In this economic climate where women still need much better access to credit to start small businesses, 2% is not just inadequate and unjust, it’s a rallying cry.

Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, says that “Leadership belongs to those who take it.”  That’s all of you who are showing Kosovo’s daughters every day that there is no profession off-limits to them, no dream that exceeds the reach of their imaginations.  The example you’re setting is a critical part of the inheritance you pass to the next generation.

And it’s so important because the evidence around the world clearly shows that great participation by women in a country’s economy leads to greater prosperity, and stability. We see this in the work of the Multiethnic Network of Women Entrepreneurs, whose members exemplify how women can use their businesses to stitch together strong, prosperous communities.  This is what it looks like when the forces of women’s empowerment, economic development, and inclusion are all working together.

I’m also extremely proud of the partnerships we’ve created on women’s economic empowerment – proud that 50% of jobs created by the Empower Private Sector project have been for women.  That last year alone our AGRO project helped to create hundreds of new jobs for women.  And proud to support a loan portfolio guarantee with TEB Bank for women entrepreneurs, which in its first year issued 109 loans to women start-ups.

I’m demonstrating today my support for another project that we supported in the past: Girls in ICT and this is most appropriate button I had.  We’re going to keep working on these things.

And we’re not done yet.  We’ll keep looking for new ways to help unleash the talent and ambition of businesswomen and entrepreneurs and all those across Kosovo, who push themselves to tackle new opportunities and to face new challenges.

And I know you’re not done either.

My staff tells me you can never go wrong quoting Oprah Winfrey, who once said: “I believe that one of life’s greatest risks is never daring to risk.”

Everyone in this room has taken risks, has put a piece of them self on the line to make a contribution, to build prosperity, to create something new. So keep taking those risks and we’ll keep standing shoulder-to-shoulder with you when you do.

I commend you all, and I’m proud to be your partner.  Thank you.