Elona Kastrati recalls her childhood as something different from average children living in Germany. Together with her family, they used to live in a garage where the German landlord hid them behind the dust. Despite this, she had a beautiful childhood with two parents who cared about her and loved her. That was the most important thing. As a child, one does not care or think about the circumstances, the only thing that you care about is that you have a circle of people who support you and nurture you, Elona concludes. And so it was. She’s really grateful for that.
Her family was extremely proud, especially her parents. They said to everyone what to do, even the most conservative members of the family. She has an uncle who started to talk about plotting conspiracies, but she sees it as a reflection that shows what our society is made of. In Germany, she began to reconstruct friendships. She decided not to talk to certain people because of their sexist actions. She has her own ideals and they are powerful, and she wants to destroy patriarchal structures in our society. That’s why she began with herself. And if someone does not respect it, she thinks that this person does not respect her as an independent human being. Since then, she’s feeling much better. Her circle of people she loves is small but strong. They have mutual respect. In her opinion, this is the only way of functioning. She sees no society that will remain static – see progress and cannot be achieved by tolerating errors. That’s why she started, that’s what she tells people when they query her motivation.
For Elona it is difficult to choose an activity or project that will always be remembered. This is a bit difficult, she says, because she did many things. It’s hard to choose one. It assumes that any activity that works in a group is something that gives her a lot of new energy, knowledge and inspiration.
As a pedagogue she works with young people. She organized a summer camp. They talked about feminist issues there. Through several methods we have reflected the structures within society. But there were other topics such as environment, racism and classism. The participation was 50/50, not only gender based, but also in ethnicity background. It’s a circle, Elona stresses. She thinks that everything returns to one topic, you cannot be a feminist, without worrying about environmental issues. Activities with young people are her favorite. She looks at them as a society of today and tomorrow. It is important to correct the mistakes of our society through our education and education of our children, Elona adds. She talks to them about social issues and be focused on our strengths, not on our faults, she advises.
Equal rights of women in Kosovo are seen as a realistic in the cities, but un-realistic in the countryside.
The first thing is, in her opinion, that women cannot be independent if they are financially depended on the person who “makes the money”. There must be opportunities for women within society to work and have independent life.
Second: Kosovo’s social system, she claims, is the worst. From education to health, and security. Textbooks in schools are not modern enough, most teachers think that their parental opinion is important – while teachers should not give personal ideals to their students at all. Most parents are stuck in the old school system. Toxic masculinity is something that is used in many families, as you hear often people state sentences such as “you see, my best son sometimes gets annoyed.” For security – if the police do not start training their employees on social issues, they will never understand the consequences of their ignoring the case of domestic violence.
Third: There should be a legal rule that women and men must be employed equally or by the 50/50 rule. If no woman is found for this post, then this place should remain empty, and not be given to a man.
Education is seen as the key to empowering women. Most mothers in Kosovo are responsible for raising children. They can take advantage of this power and postpone some bad feminists, Elona adds.
Another thing is that women are more consistent about what they do, who we decide to talk to and who we decide to isolate from society. She does not think sexist men should be tolerated in any way, they have to pay for their behavior. The excuse of socialization is so cheap – every adult person is responsible for their activities. So, release the sexist, do not invite them to parties, charge them, divorce, and break away from the misogynists. The consequence shall be the key!
A powerful man is, in her opinion, a man who is soft and does not feel intimidated by women who have the same rights or are more successful, have more power than him. That’s nothing else. Everything else is false, maintains Elona.
Her role is just to be a woman who finds her way, to be nice, but ignore nonsense. She is not here to satisfy any party, colonizer or capitalist, stresses Elona.
The project/activity in which she was involved and which had a great social significance in her opinion is the Anti-Sexism Project with where she laid menstrual pads everywhere around her hometown in Germany. This project went viral throughout the world.
She organized TedxTalk for women in Pristina in the Albanian language.
She also organized also a Demo in Rahovec on the ”Day against violence on women”. It was a controversy, but she feels that everyone enjoyed it. All the e girls joined her, they drew posters and went on the streets.
Summer Camp in Rugova gorge – which was organized together with a friend, member of LGBT community. It was related to social matters.
Elona is a pedagogue specializing in children and young people. She is currently working at the Youth Center in South Germany.