Leaving no one behind UN Women and the British Embassy intensify efforts to reduce school dropouts of young women and girls from non-majority communities
UN Women and the British Embassy have distributed laptops to young women and girls from Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities to facilitate their online learning. School closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have had a greater impact for young women and girls who are now taking more chores at home, cooking and caring for the elderly. To tackle this, UN Women is applying an intersectional to reach those left furthest behind, including young women and girls from non-majority communities and those with disabilities.
Young women and girls from the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities represent one of the most vulnerable groups at all times, further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Most young women from these communities do not own Information Technology equipment or have access to the internet and are thus excluded from the new online education system. Coupled with increased domestic care duties at home, young women and girls are at risk of losing their academic year and to ultimately drop out of school. In fact, a Rapid Assessment conducted in Kosovo in May 2020 by UN WOMEN, UNDP, UNFPA and UNKT found that the pandemic has exacerbated the burden of women and girls’ unpaid care work, hindering and limiting their professional and educational performances.
During the event, British Ambassador Nicholas Abbott stated “Girls’ education is central to this project. Together with UN Women and the UN Kosovo team, today I am happy to support girls with laptops in order to facilitate their access to education. I hope you enjoy these computers / laptops and use them to learn and expand your knowledge. You are the future of Kosovo and we will not stop championing our efforts for your fundamental right, education.”
Opening remarks were also held by Ulrika Richardson, United Nations Development Coordinator in Kosovo who stated “As a result of the pandemic, women and girls are spending more time now with chores at home, cooking and caring for the elderly and other family members. This also means that many girls, particularly from disadvantage households are missing out on education. They do not have the time nor can they access online and distance learning. Thanks to UK and with this IT equipment and training, we want to work with girls and young women, particularly from marginalized communities, and send a clear message to decision makers that more must be done to ensure that all girls and young women have access to quality education and other social services irrespective of ethnic group or income level. Leaving no one behind must be the motto going forward as we build back better!”
Vlora Tuzi Nushi, UN Women Head of Office stated “Even before the pandemic, girls from non-majority communities, and those living in poverty had low school attendance rates, whilst now, due to the pandemic, young women and girls in Kosovo have been disproportionately burdened with care work in the household, and an increased occurrence of gender-based violence. Together with our partners and supported by the British Embassy, we are working to ensure that young women and girls from most marginalized groups have equal access to education and are not left behind as we respond to COVID19.”
On February 22, twenty laptops were distributed to the young women and girls from these communities, and 170 more will be distributed in the following weeks. "The laptop UN Women donated to me, serves me for online learning and now I can finally have access to full online learning. I am really thankful" said Rabie Berisha, one of the young women who received a laptop. Senada Gashi, who also received a laptop stated “this assistance of a laptop from UN Women facilitates my learning in this pandemic and makes everything much easier for me.”
The young women and girls who received laptops on Monday, will use these as a tool to increase their knowledge and remain connected through the training they will receive by UN Women partner IPKO Foundation who will be implementing activities related. The activities are part of the $2.5 million project entitled “Return to (New) Normal in Kosovo: Strengthening resilience through a safe and inclusive return to normality in health and education in the wake of COVID-19” which is implemented by UN Women, UNFPA, UNICEF, and the World Health Organization.
Aggravating pandemic effects may be expected for an increase in child marriages, associated primarily with Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian ethnic groups and rural areas where traditional influences may be stronger, which in turn may lead to lack of education, domestic violence, and lack of access to future employment opportunities.