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

Not just another day at the office…

So right now I am in Kazbegi participating in the Gender Theme Group Retreat arranged by UNWomen and Asian Development Bank.

Today I and Mariam Gagoshashvili from Women’s Fund of Georgia facilitated one of the sessions; Brainstorming on how to strengthen partnership with civil society organisations working on gender equality and women’s rights issues. A very important and appreciated element in our presentation were the findings of the small survey which we conducted in our networks of Kvinna till Kvinna partner organisations and Women’s Fund of Georgia grantees – so many thanks to each and everyone who took the time to respond to our small survey.

The discussions were lively and we hope that it will lead to increased cooperation between International organisations and local women’s organisations/groups in order to strengthen women’s organising and a women’s movement.

Mariam Gogoshashvili, Women’s Fund of Georgia and Sara Laginder, Kvinna till Kvinna.

The peak of Mount Kazbeg, view from hotel.

Barbed wire, beach and new roads…

So I am just having a small break in Zugdidi, Georgia after a very interesting week of meetings here in Zugdidi and the breakaway region Abkhazia.

The contrasts are many; first thing I noticed was hundreds of meters of new barbed wire, fences and a longer and more complicated procedure to enter the breakaway region Abkhazia. The Russian military is now controlling enter and exit of the breakaway region Abkhazia, and as I heard today some Russian military officers are telling local people, living in Eastern Abkhazia, that they need an Abkhaz passport to enter – however far from all inhabitants of Eastern Abkhazia have an Abkhaz passport – it is a long and complicated bureaucratic procedure to get one. Many of the inhabitants of Eastern Abkhazia depend on Georgia for health care and medical service.  From barbed wire to the stunning beauty of nature – the black sea and the mountains while travelling to Gagra.

All women I have spoken to during my intense trip, on the Georgian as well as the Abkhaz side, ethnic Georgian as well as ethnic Abkhaz women, witness that women during the conflict got a new role – as breadwinners of the family and that they also were caring so much for the wellbeing and health of their families – that women simply forgot about themselves. Women might have been in need of health care and medical service – however they didn’t prioritize themselves – which resulted in poor health status of women. Moreover as a consequence of the conflict domestic violence has increased.  In Abkhazia there are no mechanisms protecting women subjected to violence, and it seems like our partner organisations are alone in talking about domestic violence. Our partner organisations are working on increasing the awareness of domestic violence and its consequences and trying to prevent that gender stereotypes  hindering women’s equal participation in private and public life are maintained. A very important and hard work in the conflict affected communities.

Aneta, Maia and Nani, Avangard, at ther portable ultra sound which they bring to villages all over Eastern Abkhazia where women have little or no access to health care.

Better late than never – people living in Gali has been waiting for the road to be fixed for about 20 years now. Today was a historical moment when the road in front of Avangard’s office was fixed.

I en ny verklighet, i en ny verksamhet

Tillbaka i Tbilisi igen, efter våra veckor i Abchazien. Denna gång ska vi vara två veckor på Kvinna till Kvinnas partnerorganisation WISG (Women´s Initative Supporting Group) och göra vår praktik i deras verksamhet. I en lägenhet mitt i Tbilisi ligger det: kontoret och samlingslokalen för ett okänt antal LBT-personer. Hit kommer de för att ses, samlas, prata och andas ut. Mitt i ett homofobiskt samhälle krigar dessa människor dagligen med sina egna och andras normer, värderingar och fördomar. Inne i WISG:s lägenhet anordnas filkvällar, women’s club, fikakvällar samt konsultationer med sexolog och psykolog. Igår kväll var vi här på filmkväll med ett tjugotal av medlemmarna. Via en hemlig facebook-grupp hade medlemmarna fått veta att det skulle vara filmvisning i lägenheten under onsdagskvällen. Vid sjutiden droppade de in, och en befriande känsla la sig i lokalerna. Par som kom tillsammans kunde äntligen få sitta bland andra människor och hålla varandra i handen, och för många var det kära återseenden med vänner som de har inom organisationen. Utåt sett sker allt detta i en helt vanlig lägenhet, utan namn eller skylt på dörren. Men innanför den stora dörren in från trapphuset, flödar den här lägenheten av energin från kreativa, vackra, starka och modiga människor som tvingas slåss för sin kärlek. Under våra veckor här kommer vi bland annat att göra intervjuer och observationer med medlemmarna, för att få en uppfattning om hur de upplever sina liv som LBT-personer i ett land där 90 % av befolkningen tycker att deras sexuella identitet är oacceptabel.


Medlemmar på WISG – Tbilisi.
På återseende! /Marlene & Cecilia

“Make an input – make a change” part 2

Brussels with Malin

Kvinna till Kvinna and partner organizations representatives met with Malin Björk, policy adviser at European Parliament  on 23rd May 2012.

Malin Björk is policy adviser for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality.  In addition, she is part of the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee and member of the European United Left / Nordic Green Left  – European Parliament Group.

Overall the meeting was very useful, and to the point – she gave us some really good examples and ideas how to reach out to the Parliament. Along with the fact that she was very transparent and feminist herself, this meeting was a really great place to get information how women organizations can directly communicate with the parliament, and get their support.

Some of the ways she suggested are: to send written questions, but also to try to meet joint parliamentary committees when they are coming to the country, as well as inviting some MP’s to attend our activities. In her opinion it is not so hard to get the signatures and support from the MP’s, as long as we are clear with our demands, provide them with all relevant information and find person among the MP’s willing to advocate for our issues.

With regards to the progress reports, the Parliament’s role is to give comments to the progress report. The Committee for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality is open to read inputs from the organizations in the field, but, she emphasized, that the European Commissions in the countries are key actor – it is more important to send our inputs to them, as they are they are the ones writing reports, and the Parliament is commenting on a final product. Therefore her suggestion is that in this process we communicate with our Commissions the best we can.

Representatives of the partner organizations also had numerous questions all related to their field of work. Therefore at this meeting we got good insight into the policies on women rights recently adopted by the Parliament, and we got much clearer picture on the mandate and roles of the European governmental bodies.

For us, who were present, all of this information’s were more than useful. We are sure we will use it well to make long lasting change! Thank you Malin!

Elmaja and Maja

Also read: “Make an input – make a change” part 1

“Make an input – make a change” part 1

Brussels

For the fourth year in a row, during this week, representatives of Kvinna till Kvinna and ten partner organizations from Balkan are visiting Brussels regarding this year Progress report input/consultations between EC Enlargement DG and representatives from international and non-governmental organizations.

Based on our areas of expertise and after more than 15 years of support and cooperation in the Balkans, Kvinna till Kvinna created space and opportunities for advocacy trough strengthened focus as a political partner to our partner organizations combined with the increased presence and importance of EU in the region (both for funding and as an external actor with influence to change on national level in the countries where we work).

Also, the accession process provides entry points for us and our partner organizations to use to try and create a change. The purpose of the increased efforts are to improve capacity for partner organizations and Kvinna till Kvinna to lobby the EU both on policy and financing, influence the EU to include and fund women’s organizations to a higher degree and improved capacity for partner organizations to access EU funds.

Kvinna till Kvinna partner organisations representatives are from:

Albania, AWEN-Albanian Women Empowerment Network and “VATRA”

Bosnia and Herzegovina, “Foundation Cure” and ”Helsinski Citizens’ Assembly”

Kosovo, Kosovo Gender Studies Center and Network of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian Women’s

Montenegro, SOS Hotline Niksic

Serbia, “Fenomena”, “Novi Sad Lezbian Organisation” – NLO, Women Space and Roma Women’s Network

 

Besides EC delegation this year, for the first time we are targeting EU Parliament, Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality.

Also, we are meeting with two big peace and gender networks/organizations, EPLO and European Women’s Lobby.

We will inform you about each of the meetings soon,

Keep in touch

Elmaja and Maja