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Starting the Dialogue

contributed by Johanka Macekova

The day we waited for has finally arrived! A meeting for young (18-30) women’s activists from CEE/CIS/SEE countries, packed with passionate debates and exciting workshops has kicked off this Monday, 18th of October, located in the beautiful town of Tbilisi, Georgia. The event couldn’t be opened in a better way than with readings of feminist poetry and songs in Serbian, Bulgarian, Russian and English. Some of the pieces were angry, some challenging but in all cases it proved to be a powerful and moving experience.

Even though we started to getting to know each on the first evening, the following day was opened by short introductions from all 36 participants. Looking at them and hearing the different meanings of feminism(s) demonstrated the huge diversity of experience and opinions in the room. While for some feminism was “swimming up the stream” or “a lifelong project” for others it was about fun and passion.

Because all of us were coming from a different context and countries we looked at the issues that young women in them face and challenges that we, as young women’s activist have to overcome. Beauty myth, “choices” that young women have in their lives, lack of reproductive (sexual) rights, gender stereotypes and homophobia were popping out at many tables. It was here where I felt that we can find a common ground and support each other. This feeling was even strengthened when exploring challenges we’re dealing with. Ageism towards young women, lack of solidarity from women in established feminist organizations, lack of money and awareness/understanding of feminism(s) was claimed no matter what we’re from. To me, listening to other young activists and knowing that their experience is so similar to mine, provided comfort and motivation to work as much as I can on the disruption of those challenges.

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