- Pain Hassoun
- BBC Arabic – London
The Kosovar parliament elected a law professor, Fiosa Osmani, as president, and this is not the first time that a woman has been elected president of Kosovo – it is the second.
The media was interested in this news coming from a small republic in southeastern Europe, which is predominantly Muslim, and is often mentally linked to the memory of a conflict that plagued the Balkans in the 1990s.
Approaching The new President of the Republic from her thirty-ninth year; She began her political activity as a teenager, and she studied law in the capital, Pristina, then pursued her master’s and doctoral studies at the University of Pittsburgh in the United States of America, and mastered four foreign languages.
Her age, and her pursuit of a graduate degree in law in the United States, details made international headlines.
It is remarkable that Kosovo has been elected a second time as the president of the country, as the society there, according to what the Kosovar journalist Davina Hilleli told me, is still under the control of the patriarchal mentality.
But Davina also told me that the election of a president does not necessarily mean that we will witness a societal development or new policies that improve the conditions of women in Kosovo. She believes that the political representation of women in senior political positions is one thing, and ending the discrimination faced by groups of women in society is another thing.
Davina told BBC Arabic News: “Of course, as for the representation of women in politics, this is a remarkable achievement and it can give hope to young women who want to enter the world of politics. But this does not mean that society will witness a development because of this election. We must see if she is Ottoman.” Whether or not she will follow a strong feminist approach. Unfortunately, I doubt that because I have followed her conservative discourse.
Journalist, Davina Hilleli, is from the new president’s generation – she is only three years her junior. When both of them were born in the 1980s, Kosovo was not an independent republic.
Unlike President Fiosa Osmani, whose memory preserves what she and her family went through during the war, Davina at the age of five left Pristina before the outbreak of the war with Serbia, and in the early nineties she went with her family to her grandfather’s house in neighboring Montenegro, where they stayed for about 10 years. .
NATO launched air strikes on Serb positions, and in June 1999 Kosovo was placed under United Nations administration.
In 2008 Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia – and so far, many countries such as Russia, China, India and several European Union countries such as Spain do not recognize this independence (due to separatist concerns).
So Osmani’s most notable achievement is her participation with a legal team in 2010 before the International Court of Justice to prove that Kosovos declaration of independence did not violate international law – and that was an important milestone in Kosovos history.
Journalist Davina says Osmani’s popularity among the people has also increased because of her fight against corruption and her opposition even to those of her own party, the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), if necessary.
After the war, Osmani joined Kosovos oldest party, the Democratic League (LDK) Conservative traditional. I respect her because she had to deal with a lot of biased attitudes just because she was a woman. I respect her for her tough stance on her male colleagues in the same party; More than once, she expressed her independence in making decisions based on her individual political principles and opposed her party when she believed that its members were participating in committing political mistakes related to the state – so people loved her. “
She adds, “Othmani also built her image as a fight against corruption, and as a politician without previous mistakes. This is a unique individual achievement. The culture of patronage and corruption has been prevalent for more than two decades.”
So her victory in early April was expected, and she received 71 votes from the 120 parliamentarians, thus succeeding the former president, Hashim Thaci, who resigned in the fall of 2020 after being charged with war crimes.
“A good politician is a wife and a mother.”
The journalist, Davina Hilleli, asserts that she does not underestimate Ottoman’s achievement as a politician who succeeded in reaching this high position “because it is very difficult to be a woman working in politics in Kosovo and be able to make your voice heard,” but her problem is related to the messages that Othmani addresses to society; It views the president’s speech as an “elitist and traditional” rhetoric.
She cites an example from the inauguration, during which Othmani said that she is now a role model for all girls who dream of becoming president.
“But which girls are able to dream such a dream? It only addresses those who are able – like her – to enter good schools, to travel abroad to study in English and pursue higher studies – and this is only available to a very small group,” comments Davina.
As for her second example, it is about a speech by Othmani when she was speaker of Parliament, and she went on a visit to the maternity ward in a public hospital and said at the time, “Life is born here.”
Davina Hilleli says, “I respect her choice to marry and start a family (she is a mother to two daughters). But she often stresses the importance of motherhood – sending a message that understanding that a good politician is a wife and a mother. I see in this speech an exclusion of many groups of women who do not fall within this ideal image. For women and the traditional family image. “
I ask Davina, who studied media in London, if a large proportion of young Kosovars share these views.
“No,” says Davina.
But she added, “These may be progressive ideas, but how can you make a change if your ideas are not very progressive? Kosovo needs politicians with progressive ideas. Merit-based discourse does not lead to equality. No, not every girl can dream of being president. There are women.” Minorities, working-class women, poor women, lesbians and rural women all cannot dream of becoming leaders, because what they think about every day is fighting various forms of oppression. The president must help them overcome these difficulties. ”
Therefore, you see that in Kosovo, “we should focus on empowering Kosovar women instead of becoming obsessed with building strong political images.”
But Vesna Stansk, BBC Balkan analyst (Media Monitoring Division), sees it from a different perspective.
Vesna focuses on the importance of the timing of the Ottoman election, which comes at an important turning point in the country’s history, as talks are taking place between Kosovo and Serbia to normalize relations after the signing of an agreement to normalize economic relations between the two countries in September 2020 in the presence of former US President Donald Trump.
She says, “Othmani has already managed to achieve a real achievement, as she is a smart and outspoken politician and has stood against corruption, and presented an image of a successful professional woman in her work and in building her family.”
“But due to her country’s turbulent history, Othmani realizes that she must be strict political first, and championing women’s rights issues in the second degree, in order to achieve political success at this stage in Kosovos history.”
It is still too early to say what Othmani will present, as she has only been in her position for about 12 days.
Knowing that the post of President of the Republic in Kosovo is symbolic; The real executive power is in the hands of the prime minister.
But it seems that even with such symbolic power, a number of issues related to women can be brought to the attention of society, as did the previous president, Aatifa Yahya Agha.
Atifa Yahya Agha, who studied law, worked in the police service and was elected president in 2011, is known for her support for a cause that society has been avoiding talking about for 15 years, which is the case of rape of 20,000 women during the war years.
During her reign, a work of art was held on the grounds of the capital’s stadium; 5,000 skirts and dresses were placed on clotheslines across the capital’s stadium, to remind the survivors.
“In the nineties, women were silenced under the pretext of focusing on the national struggle for liberation, and the efforts and demands of women during that period were absent on the pretext that the time was not appropriate. But there has been talk for twenty years until today about the relationship with Serbia, the file of missing persons, and the membership debate. With the European Union, then when would the time be ripe to talk about women’s issues?
“Therefore, we place our hopes on political women to advance women’s rights and deal with them as a political issue,” adds Davina.