Women Activists in the Western Balkans and Turkey
Date: Tuesday, March 6, 2018
The 2018 theme for International Women’s Day is “Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives.”
On the occasion of this global celebration of women, the EU-UN Women regional programme "Implementing Norms, Changing Minds," which partners with 48 civil society organizations in the Western Balkans and Turkey, has created an interactive map showcasing some of the brave women working to end discrimination and violence in the region.
The map celebrates the work and voices of the activists who are working relentlessly to claim women’s rights and help them realize their full potential.
Click on each country to meet our activists!
This interactive map was produced with the financial support of the European Union. The views expressed here are of these participants and may not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union, UN Women, or the United Nations Member States.
Roma and Egyptian women face multiple forms of discrimination in Albania. Due to this discrimination, they’re not accessing legal and social services when they experience violence."
Roma and Egyptian Women's Network
Some of the main challenges our society faces that need immediate attention are gender stereotypes and a patriarchal mentality, particularly in rural areas. This mentality is common not only among men, but also women who are more involved in the education of boys and girls."
Woman Forum Elbasan
Empowering women in rural areas by raising awareness of their rights, particularly property rights and the right to education, is key to an equal society without discrimination.”
Center for Development of Rural Women
I work for women’s rights because I believe the protection, education and empowerment of women is an investment for today and for the future."
Shelter for Abused Women and Girls
It is important to provide women with information about their rights and raise awareness among Albanian society of the need to change harmful norms and stereotypes that go against international standards on gender equality and non-discrimination."
Center for Legal Civil Initiatives
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVIA
The media should develop educational programmes to inform the public about issues of violence against women, the rights of survivors, non-violent communication and the promotion of positive values.”
Gender Centre of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, women are not recognized in the disability movement. Society sees people with disabilities as a homogeneous group, with no differences. In addition, the women’s movement does not fully acknowledge women with disabilities"
The fact that we live in a discriminatory society – in which jobs are still divided into male and female, people continue to believe that a woman’s place is in the kitchen, a woman loses her job when she gets pregnant, and women are beaten – makes me fight for women’s rights more actively each day.”
Association of Citizens ”Future”
Women encounter many more obstacles than men when it comes to access to the labor market and participation in public and political spheres, and they often face violence within their own families."
Association of Citizens ”Future”
Preventing early marriage, gender discrimination, domestic violence and their consequences for families and children is a key priority for ending violence against Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian women."
Network of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian Women's Organizations of Kosovo
We have excellent laws to protect women from violence, but the implementation of these laws still needs to improve. We must work harder to ensure women live free of violence and their rights are respected."
Lawyers Association, ‘NORMA’
It is imperative that we join forces towards understanding and changing cultural and social norms that excuse and justify all kinds of discrimination and violence against women and girls."
Kosovar Gender Studies Center
The majority of working age women in Kosovo are not active in the labor market. This troubling issue inhibits women's access to steady income, impedes their ability to engage in effective decision making, and hinders their prospects of developing sustained self-reliance."
Working as a teacher, I found that women in rural areas in many fields and for many reasons are at a disadvantage compared to women living in cities and urban regions. So I decided to focus my work, my knowledge and my energy towards advancing the rights of women in one of the most remote areas of Kosovo."
Lindita Kozmaqi Piraj
Municipal Gender Equality Office Dragash Municipality
* For the European Union, this designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence. For UN Women, references to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999).
THE FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA
We need to raise awareness on violence against women because this is a social issue, not a private issue. There is still stigma in our community towards women survivors of violence who raise their voices and seek help."
Young girls should take a lead role and influence the decisions that affect them."
Educational Humanitarian Organization – Shtip
I want to be a safe and free woman and to do the things that make me happy as a woman. I want equal rights for women.”
Health Education and Research Association (HERA)
We are still primarily perceived as reproductive machines, nurses, teachers, and not as politicians, MPs, mayors, professors, and managers.”
Neda Chalovska Dimovska
Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of the Republic of Macedonia (MHC)
The majority of women who are victims of human trafficking in Montenegro are from the Roma and Egyptian communities; they are often trafficked for sexual exploitation. In addition, these women face multiple discrimination as they are also victims of early marriages, which is a common practice within their communities."
Montenegrin Women's Lobby
With sister-like solidarity through the activist-feminist approach to women's rights, let’s change the environment in which we live by allowing women to become stronger, more independent and start talking and making decisions about their lives."
Montenegrin Women`s Lobby
One of the main problems faced by Roma and Egyptian women in the 21st century is arranged child marriages, which denies them their right to education, endangers their health, limits their independence and puts them at risk of becoming victims of violence."
Center for Roma Initiatives, Niksic
Fighting for gender equality in Montenegro is the collective effort of women to address the problems they face on a daily basis, but we cannot solve these problems alone. Our main challenge is to make all citizens aware, both women and men, that achieving equality is a responsibility for us all."
When Roma women who are survivors of violence try to access services, they’re not well received and are discriminated against. This is why we are lobbying to engage Roma women to work within the institutions that provide support to survivors of violence."
Association of Roma Women ‘Osvit’
International Women's Day is not a day to receive flowers and presents. It is the day when we have to be on the streets to regain the freedom our grandmothers and mothers fought for and to reclaim new freedoms for ourselves."
It is necessary to continuously work on raising awareness of the situation, needs and multiple discrimination faced by women with disabilities. For me, it is important to speak about the disadvantaged position of women with disabilities in relation to men with disabilities, but also in relation to women without disabilities."
...iz kruga – Vojdvodina Novi Sad
I decided to work in the field of women's rights because my rights were at one time threatened and I did not have anyone to ask for help. We have to be brave and persistent in fighting and advocating for our rights!"
Women's Support Center
The women’s rights movement will continue to play a leading role in combating violence against women and girls in Turkey."
Ayça Bulut Bican
Violence against women is a reflection of gender inequality. It is also strongly connected to the culture of violence within communities, which seems to be on the rise. In order to end violence against women, an overall change in people’s mindsets is required."
Ayşe Pınar Gürer
Currently LGBTI people are not recognized under Turkish law. First of all, we want to be recognized. We also need laws to address hate crimes and hate speech."
Damla Umut Uzun
Kaos Gay and Lesbian Cultural Research and Solidarity Association
Assisting refugee women to exercise and enjoy their basic human and civil rights is of utmost importance. I believe that raising awareness among both the Turkish and Syrian population should be prioritized; integration requires both sides to be actively engaged."
Women’s Studies Association
Women are yet to attain equal representation and participation in all aspects of life, and many of the barriers to equality remain. The most pressing issues are the lack of implementation of existing laws and a lack of an effective monitoring mechanism to hold institutions to account."
Sema Kendirci Uğurman
Turkish Women’s Union
Working with refugee women demands more specialized human resources, more financial investment, more time and energy and lastly, but most importantly, a strong political will on the part of state authorities and NGOs working or aspiring to work in this field."
Yelda Şahin Akıllı,
Foundation for Women’s Solidarity
I decided to work for women’s rights because I believe that freedom for women is possible only if we stand up, take action and fight against all the oppression that surrounds our lives."
Foundation for Women’s Solidarity.
To think and act as a feminist makes me feel part of a machine which will bring us freedom."
I believe that women can make the world a safer and better place to live in."
Zeynep Goknil Sanal
Turkish Women’s Union
As a religious woman working with other religious women, we try to combat the perpetuation of gender stereotypes within society. This understanding of women is directly related to all other issues that we face, from violence to economic disempowerment."
Women's organizations play a crucial role in preventing violence against women and girls. The more women's NGOs there are in a country, the greater the progress, such as better laws and more empowering support for survivors."
Women Against Violence Europe (WAVE)
Violence against women is one of the most predominant human rights abuses worldwide. My personal aim is to make a significant contribution towards ending violence and making this world a safer and more empowering place for women."
Women Against Violence Europe (WAVE)
If we are to end violence against women and girls and create a truly equal world, we need to start to create seismic shifts across our social norms."