UN Women hosts first youth consultation as part of UN’s ‘Youth 4 Inclusion, Equality & Trust’ initiative.


Some of the participants at the regional youth consultation
Some of the participants at the regional youth consultation

More than fifty young people from the region engaged virtually in a constructive dialogue addressing the root causes of gender inequalities and its implication for social cohesion. This was the first regional consultation organized by UN Women as part of UN’s ‘Youth 4 Inclusion, Equality & Trust’ project supported by the UN Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund, contributing to promoting gender equality as a driver for social cohesion and reconciliation in the Region.

Participants in academia and civil society from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Kosovo , shared their firsthand experiences as well as their own perspectives on gender equality and social cohesion challenges.

“It’s unfortunate for women or vulnerable groups to remain silent just because they don’t have proper means and mechanisms to speak up for themselves. So, when we try to modernize our societies, we need sustainable mechanisms for these groups to build up confidence and speak up about issues that really matter to them”, highlighted Esmeralda Doku from Albania.

With traditional gender norms still playing an active role in the region, including fueling divisive narratives and deepening persisting gender inequalities and forms of discrimination, UN Women has taken the lead on confronting gender equality dimension to social cohesion challenges. Still young people believe that there is a lot to be done, as they believe that the “patriarchal system they are living in teaches girls to be good girls, to be submissive, to take care of their families; do the house cores etc. and boys are never asked doing that. As Una Milic from Serbia stated, “this form of patriarchal education affects us since we are little until we are adults”.

The youth ideas and perspectives emerging from this initial consultation will contribute to the regional research being conducted to advance the project’s overall goal in educating, empowering, engaging and encouraging young men and women to be a catalyst for social cohesion.

Studies demonstrate that expectations of new generations of young, educated women significantly surpass traditional societal norms. In the UN’s September 2021 youth consultation that polled 450 young people, an overwhelming 96 per cent of respondents indicated that gender equality and rights and opportunities for both women and men is important for good relations between and within communities, institutions and youth.

UN women hopes that youth will be the drivers in gender equality, mutual understanding, constructive narrative and respect for diversity in the Region.