PRISTINA, Kosovo (March 20, 2018) – Retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Keith W. Dayton (right center), director of the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, Dr. Valbona Zeneli (right), Marshall Center’s Professor of National Security Studies, Arian Zeka (left), executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Kosovo, and the Honorable Dhurata Hoxha (left center), minister of European integration conduct a panel discussion titled "Corruption: A threat to Democratic Stability" during the inauguration of the Jahjaga Foundation. The Marshall Center supports the establishment of the Jahjaga Foundation due to its stated goals. This foundation is focused on creating just societies through women and youth empowerment. (Photo courtesy of the Jahjaga Foundation)
By U.S. Army Maj. Joshua Southworth
George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies
PRISTINA, Kosovo (March 20, 2018) – Retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Keith W. Dayton, director of the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, and Dr. Valbona Zeneli, Marshall Center professor of national security studies, travelled to Pristina, Kosovo to support the inauguration of the Jahjaga Foundation March 20.
The Jahjaga Foundation is an initiative of the former President of Kosovo Atifete Jahjaga, a Marshall Center alumnae. The Foundation’s purpose is to create a just society by empowering women and youth.
The inaugural event was part of Kosovo’s annual “Week of Women” and featured three panels focusing on reducing corruption, violent extremism and responding to victims of sexual violence.
“Kosovo must commit not only to gender equality, but also for overall social change,” said Jahjaga, during her opening remarks.
Jahjaga was the first female president in Kosovo and in the region. She is an advocate for human rights and transparent government and judicial systems, said Zeneli.
Kosovo’s demographics support a foundation with these goals in mind, as the society has more than 60 percent of the population is under the age of 30.
“Women are also largely underrepresented in the economy and leadership positions as a consequence of a post-war society,” said Dayton, during his opening remarks.
U.S. Ambassador to Kosovo, Greg Delawie, who gave the keynote speech during the inauguration ceremony, said that advancing women’s equality produces positive effects throughout a society.
“Security and prosperity in the Balkans cannot be achieved without inclusive participation of women, youth and minorities in this process,” Dayton said. “And seriously addressing internal and international security challenges, and fostering reconciliation in the region.”
These are all direct goals of the Jahjaga Foundation, said Jahjaga.
The Jahjaga Foundation is a Non-Governmental Organization established as a politically neutral organization through The United States Agency for International Development, the National Democratic Institute and the Turkish Embassy to Kosovo.
“President Jahjaga is a powerful advocate for women’s rights and is especially committed to protect the most vulnerable,” Dayton said.
The Marshall Center and the Jahjaga Foundation
The Marshall Center and the Jahjaga Foundation have natural overlapping issues such as women peace and security, Balkan security and fostering peace, stability and prosperity in the region.
Dayton said that the Marshall Center plans to collaborate with the Jahjaga Foundation in the future on these areas.
“Women’s equality has a direct impact on reducing corruption and increasing government transparency,” Dayton said.
He added that countries where more women are represented in government tend to have more functioning liberal democratic institutions, and a critical mass of women in a political system brings a shift in policy priorities towards transparency and greater democracy in action.
“Simply put, the more women who are empowered, the greater the democracy and the less corruption in the society,” Dayton said.
The Way Forward
The Marshall Center continues to incorporate women, peace and security topics, as well as countering corruption throughout all of its programs.
The Marshall Center will seek ways to collaborate with the Jahjaga Foundation for events planned for execution in Fiscal Year 2019, said Dayton.