“I am very lucky,” Igballe Rogova told the 50 young participants at truAktiv Summit 2019 from all over Kosovo. She began her lecture with childhood stories and the importance of her family support that raised her to become a feminist.
Rogova spoke about the feminist activism in 90’s at the 3rd edition of truAktiv Summit held September 19-21. This year the event focused on the theme “Community Organizing”, aimed at improving critical thinking through debates, talks, lectures and workshops.
The executive director of KWN, Rogova, continued by describing an initiative she undertook with her sister, Safete Rogova, on the empowerment of rural women and girls. They accomplished this by challenging the patriarchal establishment within traditional Albanian culture and responding to educational needs. The two sisters formed the Motrat Qiriazi (Sisters Qiriazi) Association in the Has region dedicated to building schools and opening libraries.
Young participants also got to hear about Rogova’s first acquaintance with Lepa Mladjenovic, one of the founders of Serbia’s Women in Black association, an anti-war movement that faced enormous pressure for its protest against Serbia’s wars in Kosovo, Bosnia and elsewhere. Rogova described Mladjenovic as her mentor, who taught her the power of protesting in silence. She recalled going to Belgrade in the mid-90s to visit one of the Women in Black protests, a group of feminist women protesting in the city center by neither moving nor talking, just standing. This group of feminists kept protesting peacefully even though they endured considerable backlash to the point where one of the citizens spat on Mladjenovic’s face and she didn’t even flinch.
”That was one of the most powerful moments I have ever seen”, Rogova said, “Every time that I am protesting I think of that moment and it helps me not to be bothered by the negative comments”.
Bread for Drenica protest and the protest with white sheet of paper, organized by women in March ’98, were the next topics that Rogova talked about at the TruAktiv Summit 2019.
“I remember there were snipers all around us and we didn’t feel fear,” Rogova recalled. “The mobilization was amazing. We saw snipers and we’d go around within the crowd telling everyone not to go home alone. Hence, all women returned home united, walking hand-in-hand.”
The young participants at truAktiv summit 2019 expressed interest in the mobilization of protests during 1990s activism. Young participants were curious to know more about how civil society in Kosovo was functioning at that time as well as Rogova’s personal experiences with the early years of feminist activism in Kosovo. There were many questions about whether Rogova is going to write a biography on her dedication to feminism in Kosovo. The lecturer emphasized that she had always thought of writing a book about the days preceding her work with Kosovo Women’s Network.
Meanwhile, Rogova recommended to the young participants relevant books regarding the feminist activism in Kosovo:
KGSC, History is her story too, 2008
Howard Clark, Civil resistance in Kosovo, 2000