Remarks at the Inauguration of the New Center for the Promotion of Women Rights for the Women Civilian Survivors of War, Friday, April 15

President Thaçi, Former President Jahjaga, Ambassador O’Connell, Ambassador Kilic, Dr. Rushiti, Ms. Kadiraj, and honored guests, particularly the brave war survivors who are a testament to Kosovo’s hope for a brighter tomorrow.  I am proud to join you today to congratulate you on yet another successful step in your long journey.

The opening of this new center represents tangible support for the promotion of women’s rights in Kosovo.  I applaud you for raising your voice to demand inclusion and respect as civilian victims of war — both under the law and in society.  I also commend the government for including you; this is an effort everyone can be proud of.  It is my hope that the days of stigmatizing victims are behind us.  All survivors should know the United States stands with you.

I am pleased that the United States has been able to make contributions to your success.  Since 2013, our Department of State’s Global Women, Peace, and Security office has helped KRCT to provide survivors of war with counseling, legal assistance, medication, treatment, and modest economic assistance.  I am delighted that USAID’s Empower Private Sector Support Program has also helped to train several survivors through this center.  I am particularly pleased that some of those trainees have since found employment to help them strengthen their families, their communities, and Kosovo as a whole.

I want to especially thank the remarkable work of the Embassy’s Civil Military Support Element, who heard about this opening just two weeks ago at then-President Jahjaga’s Council.  CMSE, with the support of the Spirit of America NGO, KSF’s CIMIC soldiers, and Blerim Hyseni from the B. Bavaria Construction Company, did a fantastic job coordinating renovations.  Their work helped ensure that the facility was ready for the opening.  This is an outstanding example of how civil-military cooperation can help advance an important cause.

The advancement of women’s rights is critical to economic and political progress around the world.  This is especially true in Kosovo where women have played too small a role as partners in economic development.  As Secretary Kerry said, “No country can get ahead if it leaves half of its people behind.  This is why the United States believes gender equality is critical to our shared goals of prosperity, stability, and peace, and why investing in women and girls worldwide is critical to advancing U.S. foreign policy.”  I could not agree more.

Congratulations once again.  I am looking forward to continued partnership and cooperation.  Thank You.