“Power no more flowers”

Igår var det fjärde gången jag var med på Internationella Kvinnodagen i Kosovo. Fjärde gången jag såg kvinnorörelsen här samlas och manifestera för rättvisa och kvinnors rättigheter: för ”power no more flowers”. Temat i år var mödrarnas kamp för att hitta sina saknade familjemedlemmar från kriget för femton år sedan. Man framförde krav till regeringen att göra mer för att hitta de saknade och för utökat samarbete med den serbiska regeringen. En av de jag talade med förklarade att “våra regeringar kan inte bara fortsätta att arbeta för EU-närmande och bygga infrastruktur, när vi fortfarande inte vet vad som hänt med våra söner”.

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Visit to Roma community in Giljan, Kosovo

“Newborn” it says with proud and big letters, painted with the flags of all the states that have recognized Kosovo, on the monument in the centre of the capital Pristina. For that is exactly what Kosovo is, newborn and on her way forward as a country and identity. The air is filled with vehicle emissions and I can feel a dim smell of lignite from Kosovo’s main energy source, the lignite power plant located just outside Pristina. Dust from the endless road constructions flows in the air as Pristina´s young inhabitants move back and forth between a wide range of cafées and restaurants. The street ahead of me is suddenly filled with laughing, eating, teasing and nonstop talking kids, bubbly of joy, on their way back to school after a lunch break.

The country, with an area of 11000 km², is sandwiched in Balkan between four countries in southern Europe, north of Macedonia and south of Serbia and is estimated to be one of Europe’s poorest countries.

Women at the streets of Gjilan

Women at the streets of Gjilan

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BeFem 2013 edition

BeFem – the yearly feminist festival in Belgrade!
BeFem – where you meet the coolest crowd of Balkan feminists!

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BeFem – where else in the region could you attend a lesbian talk show or a feminist poetry slam performance?

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BeFem – where activism against patriarchy is nurtured.
BeFem – the place that welcomed the performance “Internally Displaced” about war rapes in Kosovo.

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BeFem – my first experience of Qeer Salsa dancing and activist knitting!
BeFem – so cool, refreshing, inspiring and empowering!
Befem 2014 – I’m telling you – be there or be square!

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Check it out yourself at Facebook!

Text and photos: Lina Andéer/Kvinna till Kvinna

A broad movement against nationalism

Nationalists around the world are currently attacking many of the rights that I am fighting for. They want to limit LGBT rights, women’s rights, the rights of migrants and the rights of different minority groups. They try to silent peace activists and feminists.

This development makes me scared, but at the same time I’m even more convinced about the need to find ways for groups and people targeted by nationalists to gather in resistance. A broad movement working against nationalism and for a world where human rights are not limited and reserved for a few.

LGBT activists from South Caucasus

LGBT activists from South Caucasus, invited to Sweden by RFSL, visited Kvinna till Kvinna’s office in Stockholm. Photo: Kvinna till Kvinna/Julia Lapitskii

But the road ahead is long, which is something I’ve been reminded of recently, during meetings with peace- and women’s rights activists from Serbia and LGBT activists from South Caucasus.

Last week, eight LGBT activists from South Caucasus visited Kvinna till Kvinna’s office in Stockholm. They represent organisations that work for LGBT persons’ human rights in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.

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Young feminists in Kosovo set a good example

“Mrs President we ask from you to implement the recommendations we have written during the Regional Young Feminist Forum” said a student, Fjolla Vukshinaj in a confident voice at a meeting hosted by the President of Kosovo, Atifete Jahjaga. Sometimes, the strength that comes from within the young women is surprising and inspiring at the same time. And I thought to myself, this is the new spirit of the women’s movement, this is what we should continue focusing on, support and empower.

 

Photo by the Photographer of the Kosovo Presidency

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The Green Mountain

“Gendering the Egyptian Revolution” was not an easy subject to talk about. We had to tell the stories of women who fought before the revolution, who paved the way to things to happen” Doa Abdelaal Mohamed Mostafa. Photo: CURE

When I first got the invitation from Marija to attend PitchWise 2013 in Sarajevo I sat for 10 minutes starring at my screen. I had millions of thoughts in my head, which included of course issuing the visa, taking days off from work, but what topped my thoughts was how come I still feel this pain when I hear or read the name of the city.

Back in the 1990’s when I was an undergraduate student in Cairo University, the war in what is known then as Yugoslavia was one of the preferable topics for our professors to discuss. I remembered the endless discussions, the papers and the exams but mostly the pain.

What we were discussing was WAR, people dying, tortured and raped. The fear that thousands of women lived in and faced was scary for me. In a war, you are a killing machine or a victim nothing in between and either this or that you seize to be a human and your instinct to survive suppress any other feelings.

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