At the beginning of September, the news website Kallxo published an article titled “Radio Television of Men” that investigated the recruitment process at public broadcaster Radio Television of Kosovo (RTK) for the positions of deputy director, radio director and head of Shared Services — all senior management positions.
According to the article, Ilire Zajmi, journalist and head of the Professional Training Center at RTK, culture editor Flora Durmishi at Radio Kosova and Mihrie Beiqi, manager for legal issues, faced discrimination in their workplace where they have been for more than two decades.
Although they all had the highest scores in the hiring process, none were selected when the voting reached the RTK Board, which the Kosovar Assembly installed at the end of 2021 with the promise of reforming the broadcaster. The board consisted of four women and four men, a fact that was seen as a step towards gender equality.
Despite the board’s equal gender representation, they did not elect the three women to leading positions. The roles for which they scored higher were given to their male colleagues. This was despite the fact the men received lower scores in the evaluations made by the recruitment commissions.
Almost a year later Zajmi, Durmishi and Beiqi decided to talk about their experience publicly. The three women spoke to Kallxo, which has closely monitored the hiring process, the work of the Evaluation Committee and RTK’s board and management.
While the article tells these three women’s stories and exposes a difficult and discouraging situation, it could have served as an opportunity for reflection and criticism of workplace gender-based discrimination.
Civil society responds — but the media?
Much like in other cases of gender discrimination, civil society organizations reacted within a few hours. The Kosovo Women’s Network, in their public reaction, showed support for Zajmi, Durmishi and Beiqi and said that RTK, as the only public broadcaster, “has an emancipatory responsibility and should be an example of respect for the law and the promotion of the gender equality values in Kosovar society.”
In response to Kallxo’s article, Edi Gusia, head of the Agency for Gender Equality, an executive agency within the Office of the Prime Minister, said: “With the Law on the Protection from Discrimination, the three candidates have the right to file a lawsuit for discrimination up to five years after the discrimination occurred, and at the moment when they realized that the discrimination happened.” Deputies from the main political parties in Kosovo also reacted.
Eight days after Kallxo published the article, the Association of Journalists of Kosovo (AJK) reacted. “AJK considers that this is a lost chance to promote gender equality in RTK, from the part of the Board of this institution, which in its composition reflects gender equality,” their press release says.
As a media outlet that is financed by citizens’ taxes, RTK has a role to play in promoting gender equality, human rights and the democratization of society. Unfortunately, the public broadcaster has failed to pass the test of equality when it comes to these values within their own organization.