Speech by Katharina Stocker, Director of the Swiss Cooperation Office at the Third Edition of Multicultural Festival, "Women, architects of society"


Switzerland works with different organizations aiming to advocate for change, supports the creation of inclusive policies, women empowerment and combating anti-gypsyism. 

© NGO Voice of Roma, Ashkali and Egiptians

Your excellency President of Republic of Kosovo Mrs. Osmani,

Your excellency Finish Ambassador Mrs. Pia Stjernvall,

Ladies and Gentlemen, good morning everyone,

It is a pleasure being here attending the 3rd edition of Multicultural Festival organized by our partners “Voice of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians”, “Terre des hommes” and HEKS (Das Hilfswerk der Evangelischen Kirchen Schweiz).

For the third year in a row, this Festival assembled institutional representatives, donors, civil society activists and citizens from different ethnicities to promote artists, businesses and to discuss issues that concern members of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities.

This year we get-together here to celebrate and appreciate Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian women. In today’s society, women have achieved a more active role. Still there are a lot of challenges ahead and issues to be improved.

Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian women in Kosovo are particular disadvantaged because they experience a gender gap in many aspects of live particularly when it come to their socio-economic rights and possibilities.

Unemployment among women is not only about lack of jobs. Informal norms such as professional or other stereotypes hinder women employment in Kosovo and elsewhere. Women should break these gender stereotypes and seek careers in sectors, which traditionally are not perceived to be for women in general or women from the RAE communities. Beyond searching for a job on health or education sector, women could also consider careers in manufacturing, tourism or self-employment. Further, high ranking jobs are not only for men, but also for women and for RAE women too.  By shifting beliefs and attitudes, new opportunities would open. However, this call is not only for women, also men should encourage women to seek such careers or to be open to hire women in “non-traditional” sectors. I am aware that change of attitudes is a complex and long-term process, which requires involvement of many stakeholders.  

Precisely for these reasons, Switzerland for years now work with different organizations aiming to advocate for change, support the creation of inclusive policies, women empowerment and combating anti-gypsyism.

Therefore, I am more than happy to see today in front of us women entrepreneurs who have started their own businesses and for sure had to fight hard to become competitive in the market. With your example, you show other women and girls who want to follow their path that success is possible.

This event it is a chance for all of us, but most importantly for policy makers and policy influencers to share experiences, ideas and raise discussion on inequalities, racism and discrimination.

Finally, in order to have a more equal society let me take this opportunity to ask all of you to support and encourage women to become economically and politically empowered.