The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) launched its second review of women’s participation as election officials in Kosovo – entitled Election Staffing by Gender: An Analysis of the June 2014 National Elections in Kosovo – at a workshop in Pristina, Kosovo on March 4, 2015. The 42 attendees included representatives of political parties, local and international civil society organizations, the Central Election Commission (CEC) and diplomatic missions in Kosovo. While the report shows a small improvement in election staff positions filled by women – from 17 percent in 2013 to 20 percent in 2014 – IFES Kosovo Chief of Party Alan Wall noted, “to increase the number of women nominated as polling officials it is not enough for political party leaders to say the right words or issue instructions without follow up. Actions and the creation of an environment in which women feel both comfortable and valued in doing so, are needed.”
Following opening remarks by Wall and U.S. Agency for International Development Kosovo Mission Director James Hope, speakers from a wide range of organizations, including the CEC, executives of major political parties, and representatives from civil society organizations, addressed specific challenges to ensuring gender representation in election staff.
IFES Program Officer Brikena Avdyli presented the key findings from the report, including:
- During the 2014 national elections, women comprised 20 percent election of election staff, compared to 17 percent during the 2013 municipal elections. The number of women employed as election staff increased by 16 percent between the 2013 and 2014 elections. However, this improvement is not equal across political parties or municipalities.
- Women have lower representation in management positions – for the 2014 elections, 11 percent of Municipal Election Commission (MEC) Chairs and 13 percent of the Municipal Election Commission Members and Polling Station Commission Chairs were women.
- The two largest political parties in Kosovo, Partia Demokratike e Kosoves (PDK) and Lidhja Demokratike e Kosoves(LDK), have the lowest proportions of women among their nominations to election staff positions, at 13 percent and 11 percent respectively.
- Geographically there are very wide variations in the proportions of election staff who are women. The proportion was highest in the municipalities of Mitrovice North and Zubin Potok (both 41%), Zvecan (38%), and Prishtine (35%) and lowest in the municipalities of Malisheve and Novoberde (both 9%), Strpce (8%) and Partesh (4%).
IFES’ key recommendations on improving the gender balance of election staff include:
- Political parties commit to a minimum of 40 percent representation from each gender in the people they nominate for election staff positions.
- LDK and PDK identify obstacles within their parties to women being nominated as polling staff and implement strategies to remove these.
- CEC members advocate within their parties to increase the numbers of women nominated as election officials and ensure that CEC appointments to both MEC Chair positions, as well as to training workshops for potential MEC members, include at least 40 percent women.