PRISHTINA, February 13 2017− The World Bank and the Ministry of Economic Development ofKosovo have concluded the Women in Online Work (WoW) pilot project, which helped train over 150 young, unemployed and underemployed women in skills demanded by the ever-growing online, freelancing market.
The one year WoW pilot, created with funding from the World Bank-Korea Green Growth Trust Fund and implemented through the Green Growth in Rural Areas of Kosovo Technical Assistance program, was implemented in five municipalities in Kosovo, with successful graduates now competing globally for jobs in web development, graphic design, digital marketing, writing and research, and data entry, among others. The first two phases of the pilot, conducted in Gjakova, Lipjan, and Prishtina and surrounding areas, resulted in 77 beneficiaries securing at least one online work contract.
“The IT sector is an area of real opportunity for women in Kosovo to join the workforce. The Ministry is seriously committed to advancing this sector and placing it at the center of our country’s economic policies. Increasing participation of women through programs such as WoW is a crucial component in this strategy,” said Blerand Stavileci, Minister of Economic Development in Kosovo.
Online work can help women in Kosovo by showing them a convenient way to connect to a great number of higher-paying and greener job opportunities. Across the country, women lag behind men in labor force participation, while facing wage discrepancies, as well as sector and occupational segregation. Online work can help alleviate the burden of unemployment wherever women have access to broadband internet. Based on the success in Kosovo, the World Bank is working towards expanding the WoW project in the Western Balkan region.
“I would call WoW an experience of a lifetime because it changed my life in so many different ways. This training enabled me to learn graphic design and strengthen other skills. Most importantly, I am now economically independent and have superb, long-term clients,” noted Dafina Haziri, a 24-year-old computer science student from the Prishtina municipality, who participated in the pilot because she was struggling to find a job in her major due to the lack of practical experience.
“I still can’t believe that six months ago I was desperately looking for a job”.
The Government of Kosovo is now planning to build on this success by scaling-up the online work program for women through a USAID-funded USAID EMPOWER Private Sector Project and USAID Advancing Kosovo Together – Local Solutions Project.
“We remain very thankful to the World Bank and the Korea Green Growth Trust Fund for the design and implementation of this pilot and hope to count on their support as trusted advisers moving forward. I would also like to acknowledge the vision and support from USAID’s EMPOWER Private Sector Project and Advancing Kosovo Together – Local Solutions Project that committed to take this pilot to new heights,” said Deputy Minister of Economic Development, Besa Zogaj-Gashi.
“In the short term, we hope to extend this pilot to all municipalities, so that as many young and underemployed women as possible can benefit. Our ambition here is to support impactful initiatives as well as demonstrate Kosovo’s leadership on female economic empowerment in the Western Balkan region, where there are many countries with similar development issues.”
Even where cultural and religious barriers constrain traditional employment for women, online contracts present a ‘safe harbor,’ by allowing flexible and home-based work arrangements, while facilitating engagement with domestic and foreign employers alike.
“Not only did this pilot prove the feasibility of the training concept and impact lives, it showed great potential for scalability and replication of this green jobs pilot across the world. The handover to a reputable donor for further scale-up is a foundation for the sustainability of the project and interest from the countries in the region, should be regarded as achievements on their own,” said Eun Joo Allison Yi, Korea Green Growth Trust Fund Coordinator in the World Bank.
The Korea Green Growth Trust Fund (KGGTF) – is a single Donor World Bank Group program. The 88 million dollar program was established in 2011 in partnership with the Republic of Korea. KGGTF finances the uptake of operational Green Growth technical know-how to influence investment project design of clients of World Bank and IFC.
Economic pathways and solutions that integrate multi-sector needs, technological innovation and social inclusion are green growth approaches. KGGTF leverages real-world experience of policy makers and green growth technical practitioners to promote and integrate green growth concepts into investment decisions.
USAID EMPOWER Private Sector Project, which started in July 2014, is a five-year project designed to stimulate large-scale job creation by elevating the competitiveness of Kosovo firms. The project is funded by USAID and Sida.
USAID Advancing Kosovo Together – Local Solutions (AKT – LS) is a USAID funded program which is implemented by Community Development Fund Kosovo – CDF and aims to foster positive and constructive inter-ethnic communication, centered on common problems, needs, and solutions. The Advancing Kosovo Together Local Solutions activity will focus on opportunities to get people thinking, talking and engaging with members of the other communities.