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Kosovo Local Government Institute – Civil Society as a Promoter of Public Contribution

Kosovo Local Government Institute (KLGI) concluded the second module of the project “Civil Society as a Promoter of Public Contribution” from the component “Social Engagement” with a two-training in Albania. Participants included coordinators of thematic groups from eight municipalities – members of civil society and social activists. a two-day training in Albania.

The first study visit was conducted at TUMO Tirana (former Pyramid) to closely familiarize with the practices and processes that are being developed at the Directorate of Youth Policies in the Municipality of Tirana and witness the transformation of the former Pyramid into an innovation center. The revitalization of the Pyramid into an innovation hub with spaces for various cultural activities and business opportunities for youth has turned it into a prominent tourist attraction for foreign visitors. During the meeting, the coordinator group was introduced to advanced regional models in co-creating public policies in the field of local governance, simultaneously adapting them to provide the best services for citizens.

The following meeting was with IDM Albania representatives to get a closer look at the fields and programs of SMART Balkans; the role of local NGOs and social activists, serving as facilitators between initiatives of local communities and municipalities; as well as exchanging practices, encouraging regional initiatives, and promoting European integration processes.

Lastly, 24 coordinators from eight municipalities – members of civil society and social activists – have been certified. Now, in the municipalities (Ferizaj, Gjakova, Podujeve, Vushtrri, Lipjan, Kline, Dragash, and Viti)” the thematic groups (gender equality; equal access and opportunities, and the advancement of community rights) will apply their knowledge and practices to contribute to the community. In the intermediary role between marginalized groups and municipalities, the thematic groups will, over the nine months, identify, analyze, map, address, and monitor policies based on the sensitivity of interest groups. Alongside engaged experts, they will produce proposals and creative contributions for municipal policies and finances.

The participants of this module, divided into groups, simulated processes of identifying various issues, placing them in a logical table according to thematic groups: women, persons with disabilities, and vulnerable groups. Simultaneously, they practiced the process of discussing local public policies following the ‘British Parliamentary’ model.

Find out more her: “Civil Society as a Promoter of Public Contribution.”

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“The Hidden Shades of Feminism”

“The Hidden Shades of Feminism” project resulted in a podcast series with 14 episodes aiming to address a broad range of women’s issues. 13 distinguished guests engaged in open and honest discussions to stimulate public discourse and promote a deeper understanding of the complex landscape of women’s experiences in Albania.

In the Albanian context, feminism remains a highly debated topic. While there have been strong voices advocating for gender equality, the prevailing narrative often leans towards a conservative approach, emphasizing the need for quotas as a solution to women’s issues. Unfortunately, this perspective unintentionally contributes to portraying feminism as a distant and unattainable reality, hindered by cultural and political barriers.

“The Hidden Shades of Feminism” seeks to challenge the prevailing discourse that has considered feminism as unimportant, promoting a more nuanced and inclusive perspective on women’s rights and gender equality. In doing so, it aimed to counter the dominant narrative, which, in some cases, has reduced feminism to a simple symbol of neoliberalism.

Attention was drawn to gender inequalities in the media, where a considerable percentage of journalists are women, yet they remain underrepresented in panel discussions and public debates. Often, women are portrayed in traditional roles, reinforcing patriarchal norms and failing to showcase their expertise, leadership, or role model status. This underrepresentation is particularly concerning as it perpetuates the perception that feminism has already been achieved, sidelining the struggles and voices of marginalized identities.

The podcast series explores various aspects of feminism in Albania with diverse guests and interesting topics, such as: “Sexy or sexist” with Ema Andrea, actress; “Who does literature love more, the mother or the woman” with Enkel Demi, author “If patriarchy had periods” with Rita Behadini, activist etc.

Throughout these episodes, “Hidden Shades of Feminism” brought to the forefront aspects and dynamics that have not been comprehensively addressed before, allowing a journey through various stages of a woman’s life in Albania.

Catch some glimpses of the project here: “Hidden Shades of Feminism.”

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Monitoring visits in Albania, November 2023

During the month of November, out team successfully concluded the monitoring visits with regards to the Local Initiatives, Media and Creative Box grants. The SMART Balkans team conducted on-site visits to the “Albanian National Association of the Deaf”, “Albania FOKUS”, “Albanian Center for Quality Journalism” and “Youth Roma and Egyptian Movement”. The primary objective of these meetings was to exchange information and experiences within the framework of the grant scheme, addressing challenges and opportunities identified by the organizations.

Our team also conducted three monitoring visits online with “For Social and Environmental Welfare Berat” “SIRA” and “Social Inclusion for Development” organization. During these virtual encounters, we not only identified obstacles that local organizations face in project implementation but also uncovered best practices resulting from their continuous efforts to mobilize local stakeholders and address issues within local institutions and the community.

The overarching theme of these meetings seems to be inclusivity and diversity, encompassing not only the issues addressed through initiatives but also the diverse target groups involved. SMART Balkans continues to fulfill its mission by empowering civil society organizations to play a stronger and more active role in building peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development in the Western Balkans.

As we move into December 2023, SMART Balkans brings forth new opportunities. Stay updated through our communication channels for more information!

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The legalization of informal housing for Roma and Egyptian communities in Albania

Our Local Initiatives cooperating partner “Youth Roma and Egyptian Movement” is pleased to present the latest achievements regarding the legalization of informal housing for Roma and Egyptian communities. This is a well-known issue in Albania as back in time, in the absence of proper state regulation families built their constructions on any land they could. Despite the fact that the Albanian government started taking serious steps towards the legalization of informal settlements, this process was accompanied by loads of obstacles concerning the technical registration process in the cadastral system. When it comes to the Roma and Egyptian communities, they usually face additional problems such as: lack of information, ongoing discrimination and bureaucratic hurdles within public institutions.

Youth Roma and Egyptian Movement aimed to increase families’ awareness about the proceedings of legalizing informal housing and promoting institutional responsibility in implementing laws and measures to ensure equality and participation for Roma and Egyptian communities. It all started with the identification of the families that needed active support and involvement in following all the necessary steps to complete the process. The Kallku and Zerellari families were among the first ones to get this kind of assistance. They both stated that their houses were built with a lot of sacrifices and that they have been on the wait for the legalization process to happen since 2005. The Kallku family members pointed out that they are often overlooked and socially excluded because of the low level of educational attainment, high unemployment rate and low monthly income. They also added that because of poverty they can’t afford different services, including this one. In the same line, Xhevit Zerellari explained that “Youth Roma and Egyptian Movement” has helped him in drafting a request addressed to the State Cadaster Agency (ASHK) Elbasan to review his documents according to the relevant legal deadlines. The same process was conducted for several other families. “The social assistance is the only source of income that we get and this house is my life” said Zerellari. In response to these requests, the staff members of State Cadaster Agency (ASHK) in Elbasan contacted the Youth Roma and Egyptian Movement to facilitate the process and continue with the measurements of the apartments. As a result of continuous efforts, some families of the Roma and Egyptian community were able to receive their ownership certificates. However, there are still many families who are waiting for their files to be reviewed and hopefully they will be able to get them within the deadlines.

 

The legalization of informal housing for Roma and Egyptian communities in Albania

 

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Training: Strategic Communication and Content Creation for CSOs from Albania

📍SAVE THE DATE!
We are pleased to announce that SMART Balkans is organizing a training intended for CSOs from Albania focused on Strategic Communication and Content Creation. Here is your opportunity to learn more about the importance of effective communication, preparing a visibility plan and choosing the right communication channels to distribute relevant news.
🔍Topic: Strategic Communication and Content Creation for CSOs
🗓November 30, 2023
📌Tirana, Albania
The application period is open until November 24, 2023 and the number of participants is limited.
Sharing SMART opportunities – caring for the region!
Registration form – SMART Balkans Training in Albania
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Training: Strategic Communication and Content Creation for CSOs from Kosovo

SMART Balkans presents a useful training intended for 𝐂𝐒𝐎𝐬 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 Kosovo. Here is your opportunity to learn more about the importance of a Communications Strategy, crafting your key messages to resonate with the desired target group and using resources efficiently to generate effective results.

Topic:  Strategic Communication and Content Creation for CSOs
Date: November 24, 2023
Place: Pristina, Kosovo

The application period is open until November 21, 2023 and the number of participants is limited.

Sharing SMART opportunities – caring for the region!

Application form: Strategic Communication and Content Creation for CSOs

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“Fragments of Utopia”

The project “Fragments of Utopia” embodied the main topic of Mural Fest Kosovo 2023. It went hand in hand with the atmosphere and other activities celebrating the 150th anniversary of Ferizaj.  It all started with a white banner sheet that blended the dreams and needs of the citizens in one question: “What is your ideal city like?”

Firstly, it just drew a lot of attention and quick glances. Step by step, people at all ages started describing their ideal city. Over 60% of the writings, highlighted the lack of public spaces and the great need for the city to breathe and for citizens to have clean and green areas to spend time with their children.

Antika Veseli, the author of the mural, started her journey as a volunteer passionate about art. Once an assistant to international artists, today Antika is a young artist, with passion and vision to give more colors to her city.

“An ideal city, a utopian city, symbolizes dreams and ideas that do not stop, despite everything that is going on in the world. Regardless of how things turn out, we always end up at the relation between the human being and nature as an inescapable and undeniable source outside of everything. My vision for the ideal city unfolds with an illustration of what I feel and think. Buildings bring attention to human creativity, while humans to nature itself, bringing the two together in the same way time does. An atmosphere covered with green and a soft blue color that embraces it, bears witness to the traces of nature and life itself” – said Antika.

The mural was created on the walls of one the schools in Ferizaj, where ironically before it was surrounded by greenery and now it is being swallowed up by tall buildings. This mural is there to remind the new generations that the same mentality should not continue as we need nature, sun and spaces for socialization. After all, the city should belong to the citizens!

 

 

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REOPENED Call for NGOs: Facilitating the accreditation and development of the Financial Academy for Civil Society Organizations in Kosovo | Deadline: November 17

Call for NGOs

Facilitating the accreditation and development of the Financial Academy for Civil Society Organizations in Kosovo

Institute for Democracy and Mediation (IDM) is a non-profit organization that provides expertise, political analysis, applied scientific research, and capacity building for key social actors to promote reforms and engagement in evidence-based policy processes. IDM has issued a call for participation in a tender for NGOs registered and active in Kosovo to undertake the “Facilitating the accreditation and development of the Financial Academy for Civil Society Organizations in Kosovo”. This call aims to contract an NGO for the development of this task in accordance with the specifications outlined in the ToR.

 

The deliverables expected from the engaged NGO are:

  • Program accreditation: CSO engaged is responsible for accrediting the curricula in Kosovo, adhering to national laws on adult education or relevant legal frameworks.
  • Communication: CSO engaged is responsible will establish direct communication with relevant public authorities in Kosovo to facilitate the accreditation process.
  • Curriculum development in finance for CSOs: CSO engaged will collaborate with experts experienced in civil society sector, finance, CSO management, and adult education to develop the Methodology for curriculum development, the reflection of needs analyses, the curriculum, documents, and learning materials.
  • Delivery of education program: Educate a total of 40 attendees through accredited curricula. Select attendees from CSOs based on applications received through a public call. Aim for gender balance, with ideally the report 50/50. The educations will be conducted in two education cycles per year in 2024 and 2025. The CSO engaged will strive for 16 successful candidates per group to receive the certificate upon program completion.
  • Documentation: Maintain accurate documentation in alignment with national laws and donor procedures, including attendees’ files, attendee lists, entrance and final examination records, and satisfaction surveys.

 

In the application email, you should attach all the documentation listed below:

  • Extract from the NGO’s statute.
  • Annex 1-Methodology.
  • Annex 2 – Financial proposal of the bidder, in EURO, inclusive of prices for the listed service.
  • All additional costs related to the service provision should be included in the above-mentioned prices.
  • The proposed prices should be valid for the entire contract duration.
  • The price in the financial proposal must specify that all relevant legal obligations are included.
  • Curriculum vitae.
  • Statement of interest (explain how the NGO fulfills the requirements and refer to relevant experiences related to the results).

 

The evaluation of applications will be conducted according to the following methodology:

  • CV and/or NGOs experience – 35 %
  • Methodology – 35%
  • Financial proposal – 30%

 

Can apply only NGOs registered and active in Kosovo. The branches of international NGOs are not eligible to apply.

All interested applicants are invited to submit their application to the email address [email protected] with the subject “Application Smart BalkansFacilitating the accreditation and development of the Financial Academy for Civil Society Organizations in Kosovo”. Development of three tutorial videos” by November 17, 2023, at 17:00.

 

 

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GLPS Policy Analysis: (TWO) SOVEREIGNS ON A TRAIN

On October 26, Group for Legal and Political Studies (GLPS) organized a Roundtable Discussion on the topic: “(Two) Sovereigns on a Train: the few highs and many lows of Kosovo’s Sovereign Fund Initiative”, held in Prishtina. The aim of this event was to discuss the Government’s proposal for the establishment of its Sovereign Fund, from the viewpoint of its constitutionality and impact in economic policies.  At the beginning of the event, GLPS presented a Policy Analysis titled: “(Two) Sovereigns on a Train”, that provides a detailed analysis on the Kosovo Sovereign Fund proposal in general and the corresponding Draft Law with its precursory Concept Document in specific. It starts by briefly providing a general overview of Sovereign Wealth Funds and then narrows down to the mainstay of the paper, Kosovo’s Sovereign Fund initiative. The latter section is three-pronged: comprising legal arguments, policy perspectives, and theoretical examinations which push back on several grounds of the initiative. Afterward, the paper concludes with final remarks and recommendations, excised from the substantive parts of the paper.

The author of the Policy Analysis and Research Fellow, Mr. Levik Rashiti, argued that the main problem does not come from the relationship between the Fund and the management of public enterprises, but from the authorizations of the Sovereign Fund to invest in domestic companies, where the criticism was more detailed in the concept of national champions. Adding to this, he further noted that the aspect of public finances (as stipulated in the current Draftlaw) is also a constitutional violation in relation to the free market economy, fair competition, public finances (through derogation without legal alternative). For these, the arguments were built from the legal angle, but amalgamated with issues of politics and economic philosophy (competition rights and issues of monopolies and oligopolies, among others) and comparative aspects.

On the other hand, Mr. Emanuel Bajra, Member of the Working Group for the Sovereign Fund, put emphasis on the positive impact that the Sovereign Fund will have, stressing that a pragmatic approach is required when discussing for the Fund and its structure, a topic discussed since back in 2009. Among other things, Mr. Bajra emphasized the importance he sees in the creation of the capital market and offered his views in support of the aspect of national champions. He also emphasized that an important issue is the investment in foreign markets by the Kosovo Sovereign Fund. In addition, he offered clarifications on the issue of mediation in relation to the external investments of the Sovereign Fund of Kosovo.

Lastly, Ms. Rudina Nallbani Hoxha, Programme Manager at Friedrich-Erbert-Stiftung Office in Kosovo, emphasized the importance of the capital market for the economy and the aspects of the opportunity for investment by citizens as necessary for the latter (investments in startups as an example).

This Roundtable Discussion was organized with the support of the “SMART Balkans – Civil Society for Shared Society in the Western Balkans” regional project implemented by Centar za promociju civilnog društva (CPCD), Center for Research and Policy Making (CRPM) and Institute for Democracy and Mediation (IDM) and financially supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (NMFA).

You can read the full Policy Analysis here: Policy Analysis: (TWO) SOVEREIGNS ON A TRAIN

 

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Monitoring Visit in Kosovo

The SMART Balkans team visited Pristina and North Mitrovica to meet some of our cooperating partners in Kosovo. We were pleased to have a close discussion with Green Art Center, Udruzennje mladih-Mlada aktivna Gracanica, Community Building Mitrovica, and Advocacy Center for Democratic Culture, beneficiaries of #LocalInitiative grants.  Representatives from these organizations shared with the project team the progress of their initiatives, the achieved results and the challenges faced during this period. SMART Balkans project remains committed to promoting stability and sustainable peace based on cooperation and constructive dialogue among communities in Kosovo. Western Balkans need a SMART approach! #SMARTlyconnected