Launch of the project “Removing the Ceiling for Equal Opportunities”

Ambassador Delawie’s remarks at the launch of the project “Removing the Ceiling for Equal Opportunities”, March 8, 2017

Thank you, Shkendije.  And thank you for your leadership and hard work to get this project started.  Thank you as well to the staff and members of the Kosovo United States Alumni—KUSA—for coordinating this project.

President Jahjaga, distinguished guests.  It is my pleasure to be here today with some of Kosovo’s most talented female business leaders – especially on International Women’s Day.

As you know, our Embassy has many programs to promote women rights in Kosovo.  We support many projects connected to women’s property rights, as well as female entrepreneurship and small business.  We engage on regular basis with the government, civil society, the business sector and all other relevant stakeholders to create positive change.

You’ve probably heard me use the analogy before:  you won’t win many games with half of your players sitting on the bench.  Kosovo’s progress depends on the full inclusion of talented women in government and in the private sector.

This is why I strongly support the goals of this project.  Simply put, the representation of women in leadership and corporate governance positions in both public and private institutions in Kosovo is not at the level that it should be – especially on the boards of these institutions.

This is concerning because we know the intellectual and professional skills and capabilities of women in Kosovo– and we know that you will be an asset to these institutions.

That is why we support this project, and why we will continue to support initiatives like this.  Professional development opens the door to greater gender equality.  Greater gender equality supports economic empowerment, and economic empowerment will bring a brighter future for Kosovo.

I am confident that through this project you all will have the skills and experience necessary to be successful board members, and I hope that in time many of you will get that opportunity.  When you do, I know that you will use your knowledge and experience to make well-informed, important decisions that will shape the future of Kosovo’s institutions, and bring positive change.

In fact, the State Department’s global theme for International Women’s Day today is “be bold for change.”

In that spirit, I will add that we not only look to each of you to boldly stand up as female leaders, but we also look to you to find your own ways to give back—to inspire the next generation of female leaders and to ensure they have the same equal opportunities that you deserve.  Together, you can boldly change the future of Kosovo.

Good luck to you all.