Meet workshop leader Ardita Ramizi Bala- Kosovo
Published: Sep 23 2015
I am the leader of a women wellness centre: a safe house for women and children survivors of gender-based violence. I am the mother of two children and I am 47 years old.
I encountered the need for women’s shelters for the first time in 1998, when women from surrounding villages asked for shelter in our town because their houses had been burned, some of them had been raped, and they and their children had no place to go. After the war in 1999, I started to work with US organisation IRC in their Gender-based violence programme. Going to villages, women’s groups and men’s groups after the war to talk about the violence was very hard for them, because they had experienced so much violence. In addition, domestic violence was considered to be a private issue.
A woman told me: “I am the property of my husband, and he has the right to do whatever he wants with me.” We continued to visit different places and talked about the consequences of GBV. Women became more open, because we focused on gender equality and the consequences of domestic violence on children and society.
IRC began operating outside Kosovo in 2001, and we registered our centre as a local organisation and continued to offer the same services to women. On December 2002, we opened a safe house to provide women and children survivors of domestic violence with dignity and protection.