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Home  > ActiWITTies  > Trainers’ Exchange Event(s) > Article

Young feminists choose broad movements
Lin McDevitt-Pugh | 5 April 2005

Young feminists are choosing to leave traditional venues, such as the UN conferences on women, to the older generations of women’s activists. Instead, they engage as feminists in other debates. Three young women, Lenka Simerska, Eleanora Delova and Kristina Mihalec discuss why this is with two older activists, Valentina Pellizzer and Lin McDevitt-Pugh. Ohrid, 14 February 2005

Eleonora Delova is a trainer with Akcija Zdruzenska in Macedonia. Active in the women’s movement for the past five years, she describes the diversity of women’s organizations in Macedonia. “At first, I doubted that we could make positive improvements in our lives, but through all the discussions with all these women around me I understood that we have to be in solidarity together and to have the standpoint that the woman is always right.” Lenka Simerska from the Czech Republic, active in the international feminist scene for eight years, was surprised: “We only ever hear about one women’s organization.”

Eleonora, Kristina and Valentina agreed that this fact describes the core of why young women are choosing to be active in non-traditional venues. “We are a country in transition, and we have poverty and weak access to information,” Eleonora explained. “Many women’s NGOs in Macedonia are dependent on limited funds from the government of Macedonia and on the foundations in Macedonia. One organization comes from the socialist era. Before the fall of Yugoslavia it was the only women’s organization in Macedonia, very hierarchical and in control of everything. Nothing happened without them. All the decisions, projects and money were centralised in this organization. It has all the contacts, nationally and internationally.” “It’s the hierarchical mentality,” adds Kristina Mihalec, coordinator of WiTT and living in Croatia

Valentina Pellizer, working for the Internet portal OneWorld in Bosnia and Herzegovina, felt that the way organizations are structured makes the difference. “In women’s organizations in their countries, they will only be the young ones, the learners, nobody will send them to important meetings. Rather than entering these systems and engaging with these older women, they enter other spaces where they can speak in their own name. They have a feeling that they count as people. It’s a new way to fight the old rule, the power relations. If you cannot change the system, you choose another way around.”

Kristina concluded: “This is exactly the strength of our work in training women to connect to and use Internet. Institutional women’s organizations can’t dominate people who are connected to the web.”

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