The feminist lesbian activists study visit to the Anne Klein Award Ceremony took place from the 27th of February to the 3rd of March 2013 and there were 22 lesbian feminist activists from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina present in Berlin, Germany. The atmosphere and the energy that connected us all was incredible and it was one of those energies that is found only in solidarity and support between women.
Lepa Mladjenovic won the Anne Klein Frauenpreis for all the hard work she put in over the years wanting to create safe spaces and support for women in Serbia and the region. Lepa is one of those women who is there for every single woman, and who stands behind all of us, one hundred percent, supporting us and encouraging us to step out, and change our surroundings into safe spaces for all. This award was given to her, because she changed our worlds, and she is an inspiration to all of us, and to all the women who meet her, to keep fighting because hard work is awarded, regardless of the time it takes to come.
While visiting Berlin, we all had the opportunity to visit different feminist and lesbian organizations, and talk to people who work with a variety of different cases of violence, discrimination, misogyny, homophobia, etc. and we realized that even though Germany is one of those countries whose anti-discriminatory laws are regulated, it is still hard for the LGBTTIQ community, and women in general to get their full freedom. We visited the Lesbian Counseling and LesMigras, Spinnboden-the Lesbian Archive and Library, Schokofabrik, Feministisches Gesundheitszentrum, Weiberwirtschaft, Interkulturelle initiative, etc. which are all organizations which want to improve the general position of women in the society, but also create job and living opportunities for women immigrants, who come to Germany to seek help and encouragement.
We heard a lot about women’s health, and the way we are supposed to take care of our organism, and it was extremely important for us to acknowledge these facts, so we can encourage other women to start taking care of their bodies in a good way, and not in the way the society dictates. All the women we met were very inspirational, and made us see that all of our hard work is paying off, because we directly or indirectly help thousands of women find their safe spaces, wherever they may be.
A feminist tour of Berlin was also organized, and it was amazing to have a feminist, lesbian activist from Germany come and tell us all the stories Berlin has on human rights fights, and to show us places which made an important mark on the history of the women’s movement, in general. At the evening time, we had the opportunity to visit cafe’s and clubs which were important for the LGBTTIQ community in Berlin, and it was wonderful to be able to feel safe in a public space, with a huge number of people which do not discriminate or question your lifestyle. We also had the opportunity to visit the Heinrich Böll Foundation building in Berlin, and to hear about the new, ecological methods they are using in their offices, and in their work.
The ceremony itself took place on the 1st of March, in the Heinrich Böll Foundation building, and there were around 300 people present. In her speech, Lepa Mladjenovic talked about the situation in the Balkans regarding feminist activism, and how solidarity and support are the forces that keep us all moving in the right direction – hate, discrimination, violence and homophobia free countries.
It was a great pleasure for all of us to be a part of this historic event, and to feel the energy of Lepa in all of us. It was important for us to see that we all can do it, and that all our, maybe small, efforts are important when looking at the bigger picture, because even though Lepa is just one woman from a relatively small country in the world, she has managed to make enormous changes, and that is precisely why she received the Anne Klein Award. When putting a personal note to the whole ceremony, it was very emotional to see our friend, sister and supporter finally be awarded for all the amazing things she does every day, and we are all immensely proud of her and support her unconditionally. Lepa Mladjenovic is an everyday inspiration, and there are no words to say how much she changes people’s lives. Together with all of us, Lepa is creating history, and that is why this award was a once in a lifetime experience for the whole group.
In the end, we would like to thank Kvinna Till Kvinna for their support, because without them we would not be able to accompany Lepa Mladjenovic to Berlin, and be a part of this amazing experience.