Post-2015: The voice of young Kosovo*
Of the estimated 1.8 million inhabitants of Kosovo (*hereafter referred to in the context of UN Security Council Resolution 1244/1999), approximately half are under the age of 25, and the majority of authorities are under the age of 40.
This immense youth population matters: this demographic will make up tomorrow’s voters, labour force, business and civil society leaders, and ministers.
And soon, young Kosovans will reap the benefits—or consequences—of the work initiated today to prepare Kosovo to listen when its young population assumes the responsibility of making its voice heard.
Over the summer, our Post-2015 team travelled across Kosovo, meeting with young people to get their feedback on issues ranging from social problems to their dreams and aspirations.
Thoughts and opinions differed, but all of the communities we traveled to had one important thing in common: a multitude of passionate personalities keen to be involved in the project, determined to voice the concerns and the hopes of their communities.
The enthusiasm and determination of the team was mirrored in the reception received in each town.
"It was refreshing to see young people across Kosovo raising their voice and participating in this meaningful global debate."
Yllza Haliti, post 2015 campaign volunteer
The concerns most eagerly voiced were those we identified in the findings of the consultation phase held in December 2012:
● Poor quality in education and healthcare standards
● Restriction in freedom of movement through Mitrovica and Gracanica
● Visa liberalization
● Equal opportunities
● Integrity of governance
● Security and rule of law
The aims and desires of young people in Prishtina spoke of a yearning to travel abroad and experience cultures outside their own. In Dragash we heard of the endemic lack of entertainment, culture, and sports.
In an effort to enable young people to express their ideas to the world, Innovations Lab Kosovo hosted a five-day OneMinutesJr filmmaking workshop from 30 September to 4 October, addressing multiple themes emerging from the Post-2015 debate in Kosovo.
“I know about cases where young people turned the virtual violence into real violence…they have fallen asleep in school and when the teacher woke them up, they started acting as if they were straight out of Counterstrike."
Birken, one of 13 aspiring filmmakers, who produced a short film about peer violence.
Another young participant, Albulena, made a movie about her hopes and fears about living in her divided city, Mitrovica:
“I was five years old during the war in Kosovo. I’m 20 now and I’ve never crossed the bridge to the northern part of my city.”
The online presence for our Post-2015 debate in Kosovo was a vital strategy, especially our Facebook page, which proved a popular and easy way to encourage young people to participate. Young people were also encouraged to become more actively involved by writing blog posts or participating in Post-2015 sessions.
Held in Prishtina’s stately Red Hall, our campaign’s capstone event was attended by the head of the UNICEF office, as well as other UNDP and United Nations representatives in Kosovo. The endorsement of these individuals and organizations reflected that the voices raised throughout our journey were being heard by key institutions and stakeholders.
“I was startled to see the extent of awareness among Prishtina’s youth concerning Kosovo’s real problems. The young people have taken a sense of ownership for the issues. They do not just complain but rather propose actions to address those issues. They do not just demand accountability, they also offer it. Way to go!”
Shpend Qamili, Communications Analyst, United Nations in Kosovo
Current plans are under way to collaborate with the Faculty of Arts at the University of Prishtina, for students to create an artefact symbolizing the rights of young people to have their say in decision-making processes. It will be used to represent young people in public institutions in Kosovo, and abroad.
“We hope that together we promoted a quality debate, fulfilling our civic responsibility of discussing issues that surround us every day, in turn shaping our future and the future of our communities," says Saranda Hajdari, who headed up the campaign for Innovations Lab Kosovo.
“It didn’t suffice to simply provide our Kosovan youth with the chance of representing themselves. Rather, they should be in a position to promote and nurture public debate in our region, to be at the forefront of positive change.”