The Feminist Summer School brought together approximately 20 girls from Kosova and Serbia in Ohrid, Macedonia from 15 to 21 July.
The six-day Summer School addressed the history of the feminist movement both in the world and in South East Europe during a lecture by Nadja Bobicic.
The next day Ana Vilenica talked about Feminism and Nationalism in an emotional session, during which participants reflected on the intersections between nation-states, gender and women’s bodies, particularly concerning sexual violence perpetrated against women during the war.
The third day participants learned about feminist research methodologies from Nicole Farnsworth. Another lecture, by Sibel Halimi, focused on Everyday Feminism and Women in Media. Their workshops involved a variety of non-formal interactive learning methods, including oral history interviewing.
“I liked the short films about women’s stories,” said one participant. “But mostly [I liked] the exercises we did with each other because it is interesting to talk about their childhood, the war and other things with someone else that you didn’t know before.”
Indeed, feminists have long realized the importance of consciousness-raising and building understanding across borders as an important foundation in order to build a diverse, strong feminist movement.
“This was the first time that I had the chance to sit and actually have a long conversation with an Albanian girl,” another participant from Serbia said.
Several participants found oral history interviewing important for learning more about the politics of what had happened in each other’s countries, including stories that their media had not told them.
Participants also discussed human and women’s rights, the definition of grassroots activism and academic activism, among other topics.
Outside more formal discussions, young women also had free time to socialize with each other and spend time on the beautiful beaches of Ohrid. They organized yoga sessions at the lake and went salsa dancing.
The Feminist Summer School provided participants with the necessary tools, ideas and contacts to join feminist organizations and defend women’s rights in their countries. On the last day they reflected on what they had learned during the summer school and made concrete plans for continuing this initiative. The organizers supported them in dividing responsibilities for future steps.
“I’m surprised by their ideas and readiness to make them into concrete actions,” said Mimoza Pachuku from KWN, an organizer. “It’s fascinating how much positive energy they have and that they are ready to work on a voluntary basis, if needed. This shows that the initiative for this kind of school is very much needed. I am so happy that we made it happen even though it wasn’t easy. I cannot wait for the participants to continue developing their ideas and to make this school a tradition.”
This Feminist Summer School was organized by KWN, the Alternative Girl’s Center from Krushevac, Serbia and Association Dea Dia from Kovacica, Serbia as a feminist peace-building initiative for young women. It was supported by Kvinna till Kvinna.