Yes We Can – Women in Kosovo bring Change!

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- What comes out of support to local women’s organisations? What difference does it make?

At times I am faced with these questions as a Kvinna till Kvinna co-worker. The questions arise in conversations with my neighbors, friends, colleagues or in meetings with donors.  Recently I was strengthened in my ability to give clear answers to these questions.

Under a blue and sunny sky in Montenegro Kvinna till Kvinna invited partner organisations in Kosovo to network and share their achievement stories. The million dollar question was: what change has been promoted by women’s organisations in Kosovo over the last few years?

After intense and creative group work several achievement stories were shared. It was clear that great change has happened with important contribution from women and their mobilisation. Allow me to present the top-five achievement list for Kosovo:

  • More women in local decision making
  • Better support to women subjected to domestic violence
  • Legal reform insuring justice and financial support to women subjected to conflict related sexual violence
  • Breaking the isolation of marginalized women
  • Re-claiming the concept of Feminism to promote women’s rights

Having this said, we need also to acknowledge that achievements do not come for free. “Great achievements takes sacrifice”, as Vetone Veliu from Mitrovica Women’s Association for Human Rights, phrased it during the meeting.

Vetone Veliu, Mitrovica Women's Association for Human Rights

Vetone Veliu, Mitrovica Women’s Association for Human Rights

So, dear neighbours, friends, colleagues and donors. You are all welcome to fire away with your questions. I have fresh and solid arguments for how women in Kosovo bring change and why support to local women’s organisations and their collaboration is crucial as we move forward.

Text: Anna Sundén, Coordinator for Kosovo

Photo: Kvinna till Kvinna/Laura Katona

 

Proud to be a woman – in Kosovo

Living in Kosovo entails in itself facing many difficulties on daily basis in all spheres of life, and as a woman, these life difficulties become even more apparent.

However there are days when all the life difficulties disappear, vanish from the face of earth and all what is left within is strong feelings of love, solidarity, accomplishment, inspiration … Today was one of these days. Not an ordinary day.  A day when something happens, and one feels moved. Today was one of the four days of the regional feminist festival “Femmes Fatales” in Prishtina organised by our partner organisation Artpolis, with participants from Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia.

This festival has given me lots of emotions through performances, photo exhibitions, documentaries, poetry, music – all produced by women.

Courageous women who told their stories … their war … their dreams!

Women who enabled these stories to be heard … shedding light into women’s lives, women’s issues, women’s rights and building bridges of understanding, solidarity and friendship across ethnic, gender and other boundaries and YES, making a change!

Inspiring women who made me forget the difficulties … women who made me proud to be a kvinna in Kosovo, proud to have been working jointly with them  kvinna till kvinna (woman to woman).

Text and Photos: Yllka Soba/Kvinna till Kvinna – Field Office Kosovo

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Ana Ćurčin – ACT Women, Serbia.

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Photo exhibition on violence against women “You don’t kill a woman this way” by artists from Albania, Montenegro, Canada.

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Documentaries and launching of “Beyond HIStory” – Kosovo Oral History Initiative Website by Kosovo Women’s Network, Kosovo and New School University,US (www.oralhistorykosova.org)

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Presentations and discussions – Activism and Art in the Balkan region.

 

 

 

“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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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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Red light for the implementation of the EU agenda on women, peace and security

As Kvinna till Kvinna we are constantly trying to influence policies related to gender equality, women’s rights and peace and security. Moreover, we are finding it important to monitor actors, such as the European Union, to see if they are acting in line with their obligations.

Last week I had the opportunity to attend an expert workshop in Brussels to discuss EU’s role in promoting women, peace and security. The meeting was organized by the umbrella organization European Peacebuilding Liaison Office, EPLO, where Kvinna till Kvinna is a member. The purpose was to bring EU officials and civil society together to make an evaluation of the EU indicators on the Implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and 1820, and to track the progress made since 2011.

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Proud in Split

The Kosovo and Serbia exchange continues! This time we are meeting in Split, Croatia, to learn and discuss about LGBT-rights, feminism and feminist curiosity, leadership and more. And of course to participate in the Split Pride. Two young women from Armenia and Azerbaijan and the Young Women’s Network in South Caucasus have joined us, to exchange experiences between the different regions.

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