Trina Hoti is 17 years old, was born in and lives in Prishtina, the capital city of Kosovo. She is currently a girl delegate at the European Week of Action for Girls in Brussels where she is campaigning for girls’ rights.
Trina leads the Respect Our Rights group in Kosovo as their elected chairperson. She has advocated for child rights with decision makers at a local and national level, and participated in two parliamentary sessions, where she led the sessions that resulted in an approved resolution for children’s rights. She also met with the Prime Minister of Kosovo to discuss the national strategy on child rights and current implementation of child rights in Kosovo.
What do you think are the main challenges for girls in Kosovo?
The issues which affect girls in Kosovo are interlinked. Being a girl in Kosovan society is not easy. The first issue is education: Kosovo is, in some areas, is still a patriarchal society. Many families do not prioritize or value girls’ education. In these cases, girls are expected or encouraged to get married or to have a family more than they are encouraged to go to or to stay in school. Many girls are forced to drop out of school because of poverty. And in these cases, girls are forced to find a solution, for example to get a job, learning skills like tailoring, or to marry. This situation particularly affects girls in the Roma community: they don't know how important it is to have an education and the many benefits that education can bring.
The next issue is employment. There are still issues with employment of girls with veils and those who come from minority communities such as those in the Roma community, and the participation of these girls in school is low.
Even employed women face several challenges in Kosovo, especially in changing the perception that “a woman is only capable of putting on make-up” - and not doing a job.
The importance of employment for women and girls is crucial for both their financial independence, and in the way it can also lead to eliminating violence against girls and women. If a girl is financially independent, she won’t have the psychological pressure of being dependant on anyone else.
The third issue feeds into the other two: strengthening the role of girls cannot happen unless girls are strong themselves. Girls can do this by investing in themselves, in their health, their education, and by prioritizing their own needs.
Trina at a meeting with the Kosovan Government on the International Day of the Child
Tell us about the work you do in Kosovo with girls' rights?
I work with children’s rights, which also includes girls’ rights. I first heard about the International Convention on the Rights of the Child when I participated in Save the Children trainings about it in Prishtina.
At 14, I represented my school at the Assembly of Child Rights in Prishtina. After that, I was elected as the President of the Assembly by the other child representatives. The assembly is supported by both the Local Council of Pristina and Save the Children. It has different activities aimed at improving child participation in decision-making.
I am now 17 – and a member and current President of Respect Our Rights Group . ROR Group is the first group in Kosovo made up of children who will now monitor the implementation of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child in our national laws. Aiming to protect and respect children’s rights, it was created by Save the Children in 2014.
How did you get into this area?
I always wanted to become an agent of change in my society and when I got this opportunity organised by Save the Children in Kosovo, I slowly got familiar with this area and fell in love with it. I take real pleasure in participating in these activities which aim to contribute to improving girls’ and children’s rights in my country.
What have you learnt from your visit to Brussels for the European Week of Action for Girls?
What I really liked during this week is that I’ve learnt about the situation for girls in many countries around the world, and in particular - the African countries.
I better understand how it’s not only the developing countries which have problems surrounding girls’ rights, but also developed countries. So these issues for girls are global issues which we all need to work on.
Trina meeting the Rule of Law Expert from DG NEAR colleagues at the EU
The meeting we had with Kosovo’s Rule of Law Expert from the European Commission’s Kosovo team was very useful. I learnt first-hand about the EU’s commitment to Kosovo. I knew about the commitment, but it was so interesting for me to talk to someone who doesn’t live in Kosovo- but still understands our issues. I really liked the interest the officials showed towards us and the commitment they promised in the field of education, an area we presented to them on and of which we are strong advocates.
What do you think the EU can achieve for girls?
I think the EU can achieve a better implementation of laws- so they are not just beautiful on paper, but alos as effective in practice. The EU institutions have an extremely important role in our society, both internally and externally and the contribution of the EU will be crucial on important issues for girls, such as education and employment.
If you could make one lasting change for girls, either in Kosovo or elsewhere, what would that change be?
I would like to see girls better support each other, and as a consequence, I believe boys and men will then better support girls.
I believe that this co-operation and solidarity is needed in order for things to change in the future.