Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Where are the women?

By Pleun Andriessen

Key words of our Monday in Kosovo were sexuality, sexism, and gender. The topics discussed both during the meeting with the Women’s Network and at Kosovo 2.0 tied in perfectly with my group research on the role of women in peacebuilding in Kosovo.
Igballe Rugova shared her life story. She embodies the role of an women's rights activist who has been active during and after the war, resisting the oppressive regime and the patriarchal society that was a result of this.
Her stories on the reconciliation process of Albanian female war victims through talking with ‘the other’ –being the Serbian women-, touched me in a way I could not have imagined. It was an emotional and eye-opening meeting where, once again, the power of dialogue was touched upon. However, also the necessity of the time needed before starting reconciliation and the inclusion of men in the reconciliation process have an unavoidable presence and importance in Igballe’s stories.
The continued struggle for equality and justice is still fought by Igballe, but also by the journalists working for the magazine Kosovo 2.0. We visited them Monday afternoon, where they hosted us in their new office (with garden!). They aim to present all the relevant news to the citizens of Kosovo, before any officials tried to shape the stories, leaving space for the readers to form their own opinions. They distribute their stories through magazines, social media, and their website. They publish in the languages Serbian-Albanian-English to reach the wide variety of people in Kosovo and in the rest of the world. We have been asking around in Prishtina, and yes, everyone knows the work of Kosovo 2.0.
We were hosted by editor-in-chief and co-founder Besa Luci, who gave a short introduction to Kosovo 2.0 and then we were able to discuss all our questions with Christina. She elaborated on several issues that were a struggle and a game-changer for them. This is also were the two events of the day come together.
It was the issue ‘SEX’ that was published in 2012 that led to a lot of protests and even to violence. Kosovo 2.0 was stepping out of its comfort zone by publishing on topics that was not to be talked about in public (see magazine cover). The intensity of this struggle is seen in the responses to the story of Igballe Rugova that was published in the magazine. She was threatened to the extent that she had to leave the country for two months.
This day has showed me again that despite the amazing organisations in place and people fighting for equality, the everyday talk and understanding of gender-related issues are even today a sensitive topic  that spark discrimination and violence by many. On the other hand, I am truly inspired by the power of words and that of  the women’s rights movements. It played such an important role in resisting and in the reconciliation process by giving women, men, and children opportunities to grow, develop, and talk.

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