The Future is Women at OSCE Trade Fair
Homemade food, traditional clothes and artisanal jewelry showcased the possibilities of female entrepreneurship at the OSCE Trade Fair on July 13th and 14th.
Held on Zahir Pajaziti square, bustling crowds stopped by the OSCE tent housing the fair to sample Baklava and connect with a new generation of women entrepreneurs and tradespeople. The fair emphasized the potential young women have to make meaningful change and create a thriving economy in their home communities.
“We have to encourage the full participation of women throughout the economy,” Ambassador Jan Braathu said at the evening’s opening.
With a persistent female unemployment rate of 82%, Braathu argued that women are the key to a strong Kosovar economy where no one is left behind.
“It’s not political correctness. It’s just smart.”
Ambassador Gernot Pfander agreed, encouraging the women present to have “the courage to take things into your own hands.”
“There’s simply no profession that a women can’t do as well as a man,” he added.
In addition to the entrepreneurs, OSCE offered a Dialogue Caravan that presented photographic profiles of Kosovar women. Photographers captured multiple generations of women at work, with striking depictions of rural life and resilient female workers.
The fair was an opportunity to encourage more women to join Kosovo’s formal economy, while inspiring and facilitating networks that can make their goals a reality.
One such woman at the fair, Selma Imeri, made Bakllava for 30 years before she started selling it.
Imeri explained that it was difficult for her to raise the initial investment for her business because women rarely receive their family’s inheritance. She got 120 euros — a gift — and turned it into a thriving business.
“I had one container in the beginning,” she said, describing her early business materials. “Then I bought 2 more and now I also have 15 people working in my firm.”
Meanwhile, Sabina Llocani was also blazing a trail in Kosovar business.
Llocani sells handmade jewelry with the support of RONA — a local NGO that assists women’s rights. While she’s in a wheelchair, her determination and RONA’s support have made Llocani a role model for Kosovar women breaking into business.
She’s proud to remember her greatest achievement: making 250 Euros in 5 days thanks to customers paying extra for her products to support her dreams.
Llocani hopes trade fairs like this can form a foundation for more women and NGOs to partner and build a more equal society.
“For the future, I would want the businesses of women and people with special needs to expand even more,” she said. “We need to value the fact that these groups of people can and will succeed. Also, we need to cooperate with the NGOs as much as possible. We should work as one because we can do it!”
This story relates to the following Sustainable Development Goals: