After the last conflict in Kosovo, in 1999, there was a chaos where all people were fighting to adopt the part of freedom in Kosovo.
Roma women continued the same silence just like before the conflict.
There were some organizations and activists from other communities that among other things mentioned the issues of women from my community. Practically there wasn’t anything changing. I said: Why? Why we shouldn’t be represented by ourselves. I, as a Roma woman, knew all the issues with which the Roma women were confronted, but I also knew how I could address these issues toward the solution, the only thing missing was the courag for a necessary initiative. With the companionship of other women that shared the same view, we started the initiative for advocating the rights of Roma women in the beginning in year 2000. We acted with tireless work as volunteers for contributing toward the Roma’s women position as a non-formal group until the formation of NGO “RROGRAEK” that was registered on 18th of September 2007. Today our network brings together 24 members where are included NGO’s and activists from region and various places in Kosovo, with clear objectives toward the empowerment of Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptian women. Here are added also many unformal activists and volunteers with exception contributions in our strategy. Through this activation, many Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptian women, have gained courage to understand and ask for the rights that belonged to them. Simply, the Silence was broken and the voice of Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptian women began to be heard in the whole territory where I act. The initiative should continue, and we Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptian women, need to help women of our community. And we, as a network, must empower so the women from our communities empower.
I was the first Roma woman activist in Kosovo after the war, and my goal was to be an example and encourage other women of Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptian communities to work for their rights, by contributing for the whole Kosovan society.
RROGRAEK, that I lead since its inception, is part of Regional Network of Balkan Roma women organizations. As part of this network, I have represented Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptian women of Kosovo, and at the same time I’ve gained good practices, which we use to advance the position of Roma women in Kosovo. RROGRAEK is also part of various networks and forums in Kosovo.
This project is supported by the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and is implemented by the New Social Initiative. Expressed opinions represent the authors’ views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations, UNMIK or New Social Initiative.