Not split in Split, but very much united!

During one of the sessions in Split. Girls from Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kosovo and Serbia

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.

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Feminist Festival “Femmes Fatales” in Kosovo

The Feminist Festval “Femmes Fatales” was organized in Kosovo in the end of May by Kvinna till Kvinna’s partner organisation Artpolis. One the program was, among other things, the performance “Crossing the Line”, that evoked lots of emotions among the audience affected by the war. The play was set up by DAH Teatar, Serbia and deals with the past, showing stories from women during the Balkan wars. The stories are taken from the book “Women’s Side of War” published by Women in Black, also supported by Kvinna till Kvinna. The performance was well accepted and it received good comments.

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“Equality brings quality!”

“Just nu har jag världens bästa jobb”. Tanken slog mig i det kvalmiga konferensrummet på ett hotell i Tbilisi. Som sociala medier-nörd och genusbiten hade jag inte kunnat finnas i något bättre sammanhang. Drygt 20 peppade kvinnorättsaktivister från Georgien, Armenien och Azerbajdzjan träffades för workshop i sociala medier och påverkan.

Sociala medier får vissa att direkt tänka på vardagliga uppdateringar på Facebook. Andra tänker “branding” och “marketing”. För aktivister världen över har det revolutionerat möjligheterna att mötas och sprida information.

“För oss är det ett fritt utrymme utanför regeringens kontroll”, sade en av våra samarbetsorganisationer från Azerbajdzjan, under helgen. Samtidigt kan aktivism i sociala medier givetvis medföra risker i auktoritära länder, något vi diskuterade ingående under helgen. Men det säger något om kraften i verktygen, när en organisation kan ha över 12 000 följare på Facebook i ett land där demonstrationer på gatan sällan tillåts.

Jag missade feministiskt forum i Stockholm, men fick ett minst lika intressant i stället. Hbtq-perspektiv mötte frågor om mäns våld mot kvinnor. Yngre sociala medieexperter mötte äldre webbnybörjare. Vissa startade sin första Facebooksida.

Andra gjorde kreativa kampanjvideos. Här finns de, beskåda och sprid! Fler uppdateringar och foton från helgen kommer inom kort.


Summary in English:
I have the world’s best job! The thought hit me during a workshop in Tbilisi, about social media and advocacy. As a social media geek and gender freak, I couldn’t have been in a better place. 20 women´s rights activists from all over South Caucasus met for a workshop in social media and advocacy. For some, social media is short everyday updates on Facebook. “For us it is a free space out of control of the government”, said one of our partner organizations. And even though social media activities aren´t free of risks, it is rather powerful that an organisation can have 12 000 followers on Facebook, in a country where demonstrations seldom are allowed.

Younger social media experts met older beginners. Some started a Facebook page, others made creative campaign videos. Here they are, watch and spread! More updates and photos from the workshop will come!

Hanna Navier