In the past seven years women in Kosova have been restricted to focus their lives only around the traditional roles of wife, mother and daughter. Women's status has declined, things have gone backwards and opportunities and options have become very limited.
As the Albanian population (90% of the population of Kosova) face discrimination and repression by the Serb authorities, life has become dominated by the politics of national struggle in which alternative ideas and ways of improving women's situation are rarely deemed relevant.
A girl's life is lavishly celebrated at only two "high" points - when she marries and when she bears sons. The Cult of Femininity is taken especially seriously by the urban population (approx. 30%) with an obsession on girls' looks and weight, and with a girl's intellect being of negligible interest.
It is very difficult and virtually unacceptable for a woman to remain unmarried. With less than 3% of women in paid employment outside of the home, and with average monthly incomes of under 150DM for those employed, women cannot afford to live independently even if they have courage to face social disapproval. For women trapped in unhappy marriages divorce is not usually an option as they encounter great opposition, rejection or violence if they wish to leave their husband.
Poverty is becoming more entrenched and general diet and health poorer. The health care system is basically private consultancies run by individual doctors and some clinics supported by foreign organisations. This means that most women do not have access to adequate gynaecological, pre-natal, maternal, child brith, and child care. As a consequence of these factors we see increased maternal and infant mortality.
Working to improve women's situation in Kosova is difficult. Albanian women have limited capacties to travel outside, and limited access to information about what is happening to women and in women's groups abroad. Solidarity, networking, finances and help with resources is very important.
Some of the activities of women's groups in 1995 and 1996 in Kosova include
- Providing free consultations, education and basic treatment in women's health and pediatrics, by setting up and running the Center for the Protection of Women and Children
- Giving training and support to young women journalists, by setting up and running The Women's Media Project.
- Facilitating regular rural women's and girls' meetings, looking at community ways to solve problems, e.g. arranged marriages, low school attendance by girls.
- Building a school to accomodate extra girls after the successful campaign to get families to allow them to continue in High School.
- Strengthening our networks with Women's Groups from former-Yugoslavia and Eastern Europe, by information exchange through femail and at regional workshops and meetings.
- Providing forums for young women poets and writers, by organising readings and publications.
- Exhibiting daily folk costumes in the capital city, to try and change negative attitudes about rural culture.
- Writing regular women's pages for a rural community newspaper, including translations of stories of women's activism in the South (ie India, Asia, Africa)
We would love to hear from women activists and women's projects around the world. You can contact us at: I.ROGOVA@ZANA-PR.ZTN.APC.ORG
We can give you more information about any of these projects, and connect you with the women working on them.
You can write to us in: English, Albanian, Turkish or Serb-Croat. We can also manage with basic French!!!
We look forward to making connections and hearing about your work!!!
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This page is part of Russian Feminism Resources