Giving girls in Kosovo a voice at the European Parliament

Thursday 20 February 2020

Rea Sylejmani is a fifteen year old child rights advocate from Ferizaj, Kosovo. Her devotion to improve the situation of child-rights in Kosovo motivated her to join Respect Our Right(ROR), a child-led monitoring group. She says that her motivation was to “be a part of activities that make a change and build a better future for the children in Ferizaj”. In 2019, Rea was selected by the child-led monitoring group Respect Our Right to participate in the “European Week of Action for Women and Girls” (EWAG) where through a speech[i] she was able to address Members of the European Parliament and be able to promote the importance of girl education and empowerment to influence positive changes in the community. Rea consideres herself a feminist and an activist for children and issues concerning girls in Kosovo especially girl education, as she puts it “in Kosovo, children and girls are denied of opportunities to reach their full potential. “I would consider myself an activist because I spoke for children and advocate for a lot of girls in Kosovo to reach their potential in education” said Rea. During the EWAG, Rea also had the opportunity to meet with child rights advocates from all parts of the world and was able to share ideas and experiences with peers from all over the world.  According to Rea, this was a unique learning opportunity and an experience of a lifetime. After her participation in the event, Rea was part of many Radio and TV interviews [ii] in the national news where she promoted child rights and raised awareness about challenges faced by girls in Kosovo. In addition, the media attention has created a buzz in her own community in Ferizaj who received Rea’s message in Brussels for child rights and girl education “In my neighborhood in Ferizaj, after I returned from Brussels everyone was telling me how they were proud with my message in the European Parliament as a young girl from Kosovo, which made me feel heard and it was something which told me that people heard my voice and embraced my message for a better opportunities in education for girls and respecting child rights” concluded Rea. This experience led Rea to exciting new experiences as in November during the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child she presented and led the discussion with high representatives in the Kosovo Government as well as ambassadors of Sweden, Austria, Luxembourg and the Special Representative of the EU in Kosovo where Rea as a child rights advocate asked for concrete commitments from them in terms of respecting of child rights in Kosovo.