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On 1 March, the world marks the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The Day is a symbol of the global fight to end discrimination based on income, age, health status, occupation, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, ethnicity and religion. For UNFPA Kosovo, it marked a culmination of a wider initiative through which we promoted public discussion on issues faced by the Kosovo Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities and worked to facilitate solutions.  

On the occasion, UNFPA Kosovo supported NGO Roma in Action and the K10 coalition committed to sexual and reproductive health rights as they organized a major public roundtable in Gjakova/Djakovica, one of the major centers for these communities. Importantly, in addition to community politicians and civil society, the widely followed event was attended by institutional, youth, media and civil society representatives of the majority, Kosovo Albanian community. A wide range of inclusion and wellbeing challenges were discussed and options for policy upgrades were identified, in particular in terms of inclusive education. 

Gjakova/Djakovica Mayor Ardian Gjini was present to stress Kosovo’s successes in the struggle against discrimination, but also to express unwavering commitment to further action to “make all citizens feel and live equally.” Community activist and deputy culture minister Sejnur Veshall noted that not only demanding integration, but also cooperating with the majority to achieve it, is the cornerstone of success. Another community activist and member of parliament Fridon Lala appealed for a collective acknowledgment of the phenomenon of discrimination, but also for individual effort to treat each other as equals. 

While widely promoted and acknowledged, the roundtable was not an isolated activity. Rather, it came as part of a comprehensive package of awareness and advocacy activities devoted to enhancing the rights and position of these communities, spearheaded by NGO Roma in Action and supported by the K10 coalition. This included a radio show, sustained street campaigning, social media engagement and other targeted activities. 

UNFPA Kosovo will continue to monitor, promote and facilitate the rights of vulnerable communities throughout Kosovo.