Samantha Hammer

Samantha Hammer (Kosovo Women's Network – KWN): Samantha earned her B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles, where she majored in European Studies. She also worked at the Pacific Council on International Policy in her native Los Angeles, California, where she was the Special Assistant to the President and Coordinator of the Council's Equitable Globalization Committee. Samantha first became interested governance and human rights issues while traveling through the former Yugoslavia, and particularly Kosovo, during a college study abroad program in Budapest. At the time of her AP fellowship, Samantha was pursuing a Master of International Affairs degree at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. After her fellowship Samantha wrote: “The fellowship was very useful in understanding my own working style. I’ve learned I have good instincts about what will work and what won’t. It was a good opportunity to challenge myself to think from others’ points of view.”

Live-Blogging the Kosova Women’s Network member’s meeting

06 Jun

I’m attempting to live-blog the bi-monthly meeting of the Kosova Women’s Network at the Pristina Grand Hotel, thanks to simultaneous English translation – fancy!

The scene: 50+ women representing organizations from throughout Kosovo – Kosovar Albanian, Serb, Roma, and also a few internationals, gathered to reflect on the work of the past 2 months and plan for the next.

11:20am: Igballe (Igo) Rogova, founder and director of the KWN, quickly pulls everyone from their cigarettes at the cafe tables and starts off the meeting, commanding the room with a straightforward manner and a few laughs.

11:25am: what happened with the Network in the last 2 months? Igo (Rogova, founder and director of the KWN) reflects on KWN’s objections to the rather irregular election process bringing Kosovo’s new woman president to power. But says she’s very happy that Kosovo’s men have responded so favorably to having a female president!

11:33am: Igo goes through the list of new candidates to be elected to the KWN board this meeting. A great opportunity to learn about some of the leading women activists in Kosovo!

11:41am: Discussing the forming of municipality-based advocacy groups for women’s rights to engage women politicians.

11:42: Igo brings up one of the network’s major latest initiatives – to bring attention to the case of Diana, a Kosovar woman killed by her ex-husband after the authorities ignored her requests for a restraining order against him. Diana was murdered in broad daylight in the street, shot in front of witnesses, but her ex-husband has not yet been arrested, and the future of the investigation could languish if groups like the KWN doesn’t pressure the authorities. The KWN has worked through a petition and pending legal action to prevent such murders from continuing in Kosovo. KWN will continue to support this cause –  “We won’t shut up!” Igo says. “We will advocate that the law will be implemented and that justice will happen as it should.”

11:48am: Shpresa Agushi, director of The Network of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian Women’s Organizations of Kosovo has a chance to speak about RROGRAEK and how it has been reactivated since 2007. A great chance to make new allies from within KWN – happy to see some women writing down the details of RROGRAEK’s conference on repatriated Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian women coming up on Wednesday!

11:56am: Igo: We need to reestablish the Kosovo Women’s lobby – avoid some problems of competition that existed before. This can be an extremely important step in raising the network’s influence with women in parliament.

12:00pm: The women gathered complete their ballots for the new board (“Not in three hours, like in Albania!” jokes Igo). It occurs to me that in her flowing, white mandarin-collared shirt, Igo at the helm of the meeting looks not unlike an evangelist. It’s hard not to admire how she directs attention and keeps the meeting flowing fast – strong but relaxed.

12:05pm. Voting done and ballots go to the committee to be counted immediately. That was efficient!

12:10pm: Results are in: unfortunately, I can’t understand the names of the winner!

12:12pm: It’s great to have this experienced, capable network as an example for RROGRAEK as it continues to grow.

12:12pm: Igo: “I have to gradually leave from the post of director…” so it can be sustained. The network’s search for a deputy director continues. Igo apparently has dreams of the Parliament…!

12:13pm: Time to break into working groups to discuss strategy going forward in areas of women’s economic empowerment, health, and domestic violence – a meeting where things actually get done!

12:46pm: only 30 minutes for discussion. Igo runs a tight ship!

1:00pm: few more announcements and that’s it!

Posted By Samantha Hammer

Posted Jun 6th, 2011

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