The colour of freedom – Visare’s story
Visare Gorani is a gender equality and human rights worker who has lived in Kosovo for most of her life. In this illustrated animation, she reflects on her personal experiences before, during and after the conflict in Kosovo in the late 1990s. This video conveys the details of Visare’s own story, but it also speaks to the shared experiences of countless other women and girls who have lived through conflict. NATO stands with all the women and girls, in Kosovo and elsewhere, who are affected by conflict, regardless of their ethnicity, religion or nationality.
"There are many shades of security. It is being able… to talk publicly and not being labelled. Being able… to pursue your dreams and ambitions... Being able to make choices in life, choices that will make you happy. So, basically, for me, security is pursuing yourself, your dreams."
Visare Gorani is a gender advisor, analyst and activist from Kosovo. An economist by profession, she has worked for multiple civil society organisations with a particular focus on gender equality. She currently works as a Senior Gender and Social Inclusion Advisor at the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS).
Visare was born in Peć/Pejë, a town in western Kosovo, when it was still part of Yugoslavia. Her father was a university professor and her mother was a stay-at-home mom, and the family would often have discussions about big ideas like equality and integrity. As a teenager, Visare was more concerned about finding like-minded friends with common interests and values than she was with grand histories or ethnic differences in her community. But as she entered adulthood, her society became increasingly split along ethnic lines, with rising tensions eventually leading to open conflict.
For more than 10 years, Visare described her life as “living in a limbo” as public institutions in Kosovo shut down and civil society was disrupted. She had to put her academic and career goals on hold indefinitely, and she worried every day about the safety of her children. During this period, Visare tried to participate in public life and contribute to her society, but found that her views were often dismissed and her role reduced to simply being seen as a mother, wife or daughter.
In 1999, NATO established the Kosovo Force (KFOR), a multinational peacekeeping force mandated under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 of 1999 to ensure a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all communities in Kosovo. This intervention helped restore stability, allowing Visare and her family to live their lives free of fear and embrace new opportunities. During this period, Visare began working for non-governmental organisations that documented and fought against human rights violations and abuses, including for the OSCE’s Kosovo Verification Mission and the Humanitarian Law Centre Kosovo. She had very little prior knowledge of human rights work, but these experiences sparked a lifelong passion that continues to this day.
Over the past two decades, Visare has contributed to human rights and gender equality activism both in Kosovo and internationally. She has worked with the Embassy of Sweden in Pristina and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in Kabul, where she drew upon her own experiences to help women navigate the challenges of a post-conflict society. Ultimately, all of these experiences have shaped her understanding of security as being more than just the absence of danger or threats, but as the possibility for people to pursue their dreams – including for women to participate as equal citizens in society.
NATO and Women, Peace and Security
NATO recognises the disproportionate impact that conflict has on women and girls, the vital roles women play in peace and security, and the importance of incorporating gender perspectives in all that the Alliance does. To that end, NATO supports United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 and all related Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security (WPS). The Alliance is also committed to applying WPS principles in numerous ways, including by encouraging women to share their stories and empower their communities.
Gender equality is an important focus of NATO's cooperation with other international organisations – in particular the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the United Nations (UN) – as well as with civil society. This close cooperation allows NATO and its partners to learn from and build on each other's experiences, both in member and partner countries and in areas where NATO is leading operations like Kosovo.
Read more about NATO’s support for the Women, Peace and Security agenda.
NATO and Kosovo
NATO has been leading a peace-support operation in Kosovo – the Kosovo Force (KFOR) – since June 1999. KFOR was established when NATO's 78-day air campaign against Milosevic's regime, aimed at putting an end to violence in Kosovo, was over. The operation derives its mandate from United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999) and the Military-Technical Agreement between NATO, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Serbia.
KFOR's original objectives were to deter renewed hostilities, establish a secure environment and ensure public safety and order, demilitarize the Kosovo Liberation Army, support the international humanitarian effort and coordinate with the international civil presence. Today, KFOR continues to contribute towards maintaining a safe and secure environment in Kosovo and freedom of movement for all communities.
Read more about NATO’s role in Kosovo.
- Please note that Visare Gorani went by the name of Visare Gashi at the time of recording for the video.