Long-time Supporters Sue and Frank Farnsworth: KWN Drives Positive Change for Women and the Feminist Movement

As of today, the Kosovo Women’s Network (KWN) has over 180 member organisations and has supported 42 diverse women’s rights organisations through the Kosovo Women’s Fund so far in 2021 with more to come.      

There are various numbers and statistics one can use to measure KWN’s success and impact towards strengthening the feminist movement and women’s rights in Kosovo and beyond.

An important factor for KWN’s success is its members and long-term supporters, such as the couple Sue and Frank Farnsworth from the north-western U.S. state, Idaho.

Just recently, they honoured KWN with their presence at the latest Members’ Retreat held during 12-14 November in Durres, Albania. We seized this opportunity to sit with them to discuss their inspiration to continue supporting KWN’s mission throughout the years.

They also elaborated on their own journey with KWN, emphasizing that KWN is one of the most valuable non-profit organisations they could donate to.

Unconditionally Supporting KWN Throughout the Years            

“We love the work of KWN and its members’ organisation and the things you at KWN are doing. The things you do are so important for women’s rights and their wellbeing and it gives them so many opportunities. We give our money with no strings attached, because we know that you are more likely to make these changes”, Sue said, adding “we do not want to give money and tell you how to use it.”

While such unrestricted funding is crucial to addressing rapidly issues that arise in KWN’s mission to further women’s rights, untied funding is very difficult for most CSOs to secure, as KWN’s research has shown.

Frank’s inspiration for supporting KWN also drives from feminist voices in Kosovo’s history; he highlighted the contribution of KWN Executive Director, Igballe Rogova.

“In the war women did not hesitate to take leadership responsibilities. Igo [the nickname Frank friendly calls Igballe Rogova] was one of them. She took a leadership role and because of that courage you continue this path today. It is remarkable and it changes society tremendously.”

Because of this, and not only, supporting KWN is very easy, Frank believes.

“You have the opportunity to make a positive change. I learned that from Nicole [Nicole Farnsworth, KWN Program Director/Lead Researcher], not with an agenda, but simply with the question ‘how can we help’.”

When asked which KWN programs stand out, they both agree that all KWN’s initiatives and programs are equally important.

“Giving is a matter of trust”, they emphasised.           

While Frank acknowledges that they could also give this money to organisations back home, it would definitely not have the same impact and power.     

Donations to KWN Drive Positive Change for Women

“When I look back, I can never forget when I came to Prishtina with my mother, and we went to talk with women in tents who were seeking justice for their loved ones still missing from the war. What they were doing was for another world,” Sue recalled.

Frank recalled a more recent example of KWN’s work and its immense impact.

“It was the impressive concept of the exhibition “Break the Silence: Ending Violence Behind Walls”. It included references where the survivors of gender-based violence can seek help. It was very helpful, giving them a chance to reach out.”

[This exhibition brought out the into public space the real stories of women and men who have suffered domestic violence in Kosovo, collected by the KWN. Please click HERE to read these stories]

Inviting Others to Support KWN

They wish that other international supporters will join and support the cause of KWN and its member organisations too.

Hereby, Frank shared briefly a story of how Rogova speaking about her work and journey as an activist on the Idaho State University Campus in June 2009 indeed increased the number of international donors supporting the mission of KWN.

“Igo came and spoke at Idaho State University, and when people heard her story, they wanted to give. This is, I believe, the next step for gaining more international supporters- communication of what is happening so that people can react to it.”

Besides, Sue points out that she has called her friends and family to support the great cause of KWN. Some of them did.

A group of women in Oregon have been inspired to support through Altrusa International of Corvallis-Altrusa, meaningful internships for young women at KWN towards increasing their employment and providing opportunities to work towards furthering women’s rights.

On this note, Frank adds that potential supporters from the United States also have the opportunity for their charitable contributions to fall within their tax deductions.

Note: You can support KWN through tax deductible donations via the Network for Good and KWN’s fiscal partner, the East-West Management Institute, where you can earmark 100% of funds to go to KWN.

They briefly commented on the event they were participating in Durrës, where KWN member organisations gathered to draft the KWN Feminist Strategy.

“So much of what was happening at this meeting was about leadership and growth. It gives everyone a possibility to share, learn and grow.” Frank says.

“It is an amazing chance to get together, to support each other, and know that there are a lot of women out there who share the same concerns,” Sue added.

Concluding the interview in a cheerful tone, with smiles on their faces, the Farnsworths vowed to continue their support and stay close to KWN and all the friends they made all along this journey.  

You too can become a supporter and help strengthen the women’s rights movement in Kosovo. DONATE to the KWN Sustainability Fund and help us cover crucial costs and support important programs.

Every cent you donate counts in our endeavours to support, protect and promote the rights of women and girls.