7-10 June, we – Sevda Jahangirova, from YUVA, Azerbaijan and Elvira Meliksetyan from WRC, Armenia, and together from Young Women Network South Caucasus, were invited to take part in the regional meeting in Split, Croatia. There we had a chance to meet women from Kosovo and Serbia and discuss the chance of creating the similar network in Balkans. Apart from that we discussed a diversity of topics: diverse themes, such as feminist solidarity, feminist curiosity, the role of power in the organization, LGBT rights and challenges that people from LGBT community face in Balkans and Caucasus, meeting activists from Croatian Association LORI.
We are both similar and different…
Sevda: The situation on different problems is different in both regions. For example, if in Caucasus the LGBT rights are more sensitive issue in Balkans human rights defenders and LGBT community can have a safe pride parade. Also as far as I observed and some participants mentioned as a region we are more open to cooperate but women from Balkans need to get stronger to widen the cooperation.
Elvira: I notified that domestic violence is an important issue to fight against for both regions. The women are supposed to be under the control of their husbands. Some girls are brought up in a very conservative way. The boys, vice a versa, are given a power and freedom.
Sevda: In both regions there are still the same problems as gender based violence, domestic violence, the enemy image which is created by misinformation spread in society. In both regions women role in conflict resolution is at the same level not so high.
Elvira: Seemed that for the both regions the misinformation, stereotypes and prejudices were among the main causes for hate-speech movement in the region. Though the activists were active in breaking them, still they are minority.
… but we want to stick together!
Sevda: On the last day we had an opportunity with my colleague from Armenia Elvira, to represent our network, the need and work of network, our future plans, challenges and success in cooperation. I strongly believe that in our example the women from Balkans would be able to create such a strong and needed network of young women, who are really engaged in problems of women in society and I hope with their work they will have an impact on the situation in the region.
Elvira: Together with my college from Azerbaijan we made a presentation on the situation in the South Caucasus and YWN SC’s activities. Some of the participants were not informed about the conflict situation in SC. We tried to make it clear and after all had a conversation on the essence of conflict and how it can affect the society living in the conflict region.
And final remark:
Sevda: And the important commitment I did, was, we should go back to our region and work hard in order to develop our situation, to implement the projects that we are thinking of, and to have a great success in our work which could be real example for not only to the women from Balkans but to all women organizations. I do believe that with support of our all members and Ktk we will manage to do so.
Elvira: I loved the time spent with the women of W. Balkans: a group of strong, motivated, active and lovely women. I do believe they will manage any project they go for, any activity they take responsibility for. I am grateful for having an opportunity to be a part of Split pride which was very well organized and hold.
Though I am very grateful to organizers for all staff being done for us, I wish one day there won’t be a need in creating cooperation between conflict regions, because there won’t be ones.
Sevda Jahangirova, from YUVA, Azerbaijan
Elvira Meliksetyan from WRC, Armenia
Slightly edited by Julia Lapitskii