"MOTRAT QIRIAZI" is a woman's group in Kosova which is working on the empowerment of rural women, changing traditions and responding to educational needs. We would be very happy to correspond women working on similar issues by email and to hear your comments, suggestions or about your experiences.
"MOTRAT QIRIAZI", the Society for Education of Women in Prishtina, Kosova, was named after the two sisters Qiriazi, who founded the first school for girls in Korca (Albania) 100 years ago. Two sisters from Prishtina, Safete and Igballe Rogova, formed the society for women's education "Motrat Qiriazi" (Sisters Qiriazi) in February 1995, with the formation of the Women's Network in Prishtina and with the collaboration of other women's groups.
Motrat Qiriazi began its work in the Has region (an isolated region in western Kosova) which suffers under the domination of many oppressive patriarchal traditions. It is the only region in Kosova where more than 50% of the girls are promised in marriage by the time they finish primary school. Very few girls attend high school. After marriage, often to boys they have never met, the girls go to live in an unfamiliar village with their husband's extended family. In this environment a woman's life is controlled by her mother-in-law, senior males in the family and by the power of the social circle.
In this way the customs of bygone centuries are reproduced generation after generation. Motrat Qiriazi emphasizes the preservation of tradition and at the same time the elimination of customs and practices that are detrimental to women.
At present Motrat Qiriazi is working in 13 villages in this region. Thirteen local activists take part in the project's organization and implementation and carry on the work when Motrat Qiriazi brings the project to other regions.
One of the key goals at present is to create and maintain a regular forum of weekly meetings in the local primary schools. The meetings provide a forum where women gather to exchange ideas with each other and with visitors from outside the village, where they can begin to examine the ideological and mental parameters of their lives. In some cases this is one of the few occasions where women can meet with other women outside of their family circle.
Motrat Qiriazi is dedicated to the following principles:
- Understanding the problems, needs, and desires of rural women. - Raising the consciousness of rural women and breaking the isolation by facilitating the exchange of ideas and skills between rural and urban women.
- Supporting the democratization of the family and aiding in the elimination of all forms of violence against women.
- Addressing issues like health education and the importance of high school education for girls.
We bring gynaecologists, pediatricians, and general practioners to hold discussions about pertinent health issues, answer questions and provide information on contraception, pregnancy, childbirth; the care of infants and children; personal and household hygiene; the cause, prevention and treatment of diarrhoea and other water-related diseases.
In June 1995, in collaboration with the group "Home Economics", from Prishtina, Motrat Qiriazi started sewing courses in response to women's requests. It is hoped that this will eventually lead to income generating activities. In September 1995, a literacy component started; women who need training in basic literacy skills follow a six-month literacy course with two or three lessons per week. Also in September 1995, a six-month English language course started for local activists and other women who want to learn. It is hoped that this will eventually give women greater access to diverse types of information and world views.
In September 1995, collaboration with the local paper of Has, "Etja" began. There is now a minimum of four pages (out of 31) set aside for women. The publication is an important vehicle for social change; it is read in every home, and its content directly reflects issues important to the local people.
We are looking for examples of women's problems and solutions found in other parts of the world--to break the isolation of Has women and to provide ideas of how they might change their lives.
So, if you have stories of women changing their lives and their communities, PLEASE SEND us these stories. If you work in a similar project PLEASE CONTACT us so we can exchange ideas and learn from each other. Contact by email: I.ROGOVA@ZANA-PR.ZTN.APC.ORG