Women and Voting in Kosovo
19 June 2015
This morning I woke up to the sounds of women and young girls chanting: ‘’Victory!’’. I was in Kukës, Albania, where the streets were filled with posters of local politicians running for the upcoming municipal elections. The hotel I was staying in is owned by an active member of the Partia Demokratike –PD, the Democratas in Albania. That day, the campaign seemed to be focused on women and their issues. For some reason, that vision of a room filled with women and girls actively engaged in not only politics, but local politics, made me think about women, voting, empowerment and engagement in Kosovo too.
In 2013, the Kosovar Gender Studies Center published a research report on ‘how women vote’ in Kosovo. One of the concerns expressed in this report is the decreasing number of young voters, especially amongst women. In the elections of 2007, despite the larger number of women voters in Kosovo, the percentage of women voting was lower than that of men. On average, for three men voters only two women voted. The phenomena of ‘family voting’ where the male head of the hosehold casted ballots for the women and young members of the family was also present.
A good way to meassure women’s political engagement besides looking at turnout statistics during election times, is to analyse the level of knowlegde of the political system and how different governmental institutions function. The above mentioned report tells us that a high percentage of women in Kosovo in 2013, did not know for example how many members the Assembly of Kosovo has or what percentage of the members within the Assembly of Kosovo are female.
Now these findings as such do not tell us much. However, it does inform us that political engagemen or involvement amongst women and girls in Kosovo is relativley low. However, in order to undertstand why this is the case, we need to conduct qualitative field research in which we sit down with women and talk about what politics means for them. Only in this way can we not only adjust campaigns and other political actions adaquately in order to increase the number of women and girls voting and try to put an end to the phenomenon of ‘family voting’, but also come closer to and inclusive political represenation way of political and democratic emancipation.