Forum participants show their power, wearing T-shirts that state, “This is what a feminist looks like,” at the 2013 Regional Young Feminists Forum, held on 13-14 Nov. in Prishtina.

Young Feminists Strategize, Impress Officials

 On 13-14 Nov., 40 young feminists from throughout Kosovo and neighbouring countries (e.g., Serbia, Macedonia, Croatia) gathered in Prishtina to spend two amazing working days. Organized by KWN and supported by Kvinna till Kvinna, the 2013 Regional Young Feminists Forum involved young women in deliberating over domestic and global issues. The main issue raised by young women was access to education.
Young women from Kosovo and the region presented advocacy activities in which they are involved. They exchanged information and learnt from each other’s experiences as well as struggles. Then they divided into groups to discuss issues raised during Young Women’s Empowerment Initiative (YWEI) meetings held throughout Kosovo, advocacy strategies, feminism and women’s participation in decision-making. They created advocacy strategies for the next day.
The second day, groups focusing on the need for psychologists in schools and access to education met with officials from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology. Officials willingly responded to their questions and the ideas presented.
“I was amazed by the will of the MEST officials to answer our questions and give practical recommendations to us,” said one young feminist. “The meeting lasted an hour more than was foreseen.”
Another group visited Mrs. Atifete Jahjaga, President of the Republic of Kosovo. They presented orally the main issues raised by young women during the Forum. The President was very attentive, engaging and supportive. She said that young women are the future of Kosovo, and they should have support. After the official meeting, the President continued the discussion with young women, exchanging ideas.
“The President of Kosovo warmly welcomed us, expressed interest about what we had to say and even hosted us for 15 minutes extra,” said one young feminist. “Meeting the President is not something we can do every day, so it was special.”
The “Media” working group focused on how to write a simple article and speak on camera. They also discussed how media portray women and girls with unacceptable language and unethical reporting.
“A very important thing that we learnt was that in case we read, hear or watch inappropriate or incorrect news, we should report it to the Press Council of Kosovo or Independent Media Commission, depending on the type of media,” said a young feminist.
The next day, three young women put their new skills to use, appearing on RTV21’s morning program to present issues discussed at the Forum.
Finally, seven young women in the working group focusing on “Art & Organizing” prepared a Street Action, supported by Artpolis. It addressed “Discrimination at work – Promotion at work” for women. All Forum participants gathered in front of the National Theatre for the performance, which was later shown in most Kosovo media.
“The street action was a concrete example of what you can achieve by organizing and working in groups,” said a young feminist. “We really passed the message to people passing by, as well as through all TV stations present there.”
In the end, Forum participants reviewed the Forum Declaration, amended it and voted for its approval. The Declaration demands implementation of the 30% quota for women’s and men’s participation in decision-making processes; implementation of the pre-university education law; transportation and books for all students attending compulsory education; psychologists in schools; and implementation of the Code of Conduct for written and electronic media.
The Declaration was sent to Mrs. Atifete Jahjaga, President of the Republic of Kosovo; Mr. Hashim Thaçi, Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo; the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology; the Ministry of Finance; the Agency for Gender Equality; the Parliament of the Republic of Kosovo; the Independent Media Commission and the Press Council of Kosovo.