Why Women Count: Kosovo - Women of Krusha
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Why Women Count: Kosovo - Women of Krusha
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Who's the Farmer?
Nineteen-year-old Ardiana Shehu has worked on her family's farm in the village of Krusha e Vogel, in southwest Kosovo, since she was 12. She, her mother, and her sisters do all the farm jobs that were traditionally men's work. Why? Almost 70 percent of Krusha's male population is still missing after the 1999 Serbian military offensive in Kosovo.
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Camera/Editor: Fitim Shala
Sound: Fatos Hoxha
Production Coordinator: Virtyt Gacaferri
Produced and Directed by Birol Urcan
Production: Prime Productions

Coordinated by tve.

Learn more about the series Why Women Count.

Series supported by Sigrid Rausing Trust, the Global Opportunities Fund (FCO), UN Population Fund, UNIFEM/UN Women, and Al Jazeera English.


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Segment 1

Why Women Count
Women of Krusha
In rural Kosovo, farming is still regarded as a man’s job -- and it’s not just pepper farming. Almost all other work outside the house is seen as men’s work. But Ardiana Shehu, from the village of Krusha e Vogel in southwest Kosovo, has been doing this job since she was 12. She is now 19. Ardiana and her sisters do all the outside work that only a few years ago was considered something a woman could never do.
This work is very difficult because we are all woman. And as there is no one else to do this work, we have to do it. In my family, my father and my two brothers are missing and there are no other men who can take care of these things, so we women have to do them.
It was in the spring of 1999 in the nearby mountains that Ardiana saw her father and two brothers for the last time. The men were separated from the women of the village by Serbian military forces and were taken to an unknown destination, while the women fled to neighboring Albania. She never saw them again. Since the end of the war seven years ago, when Ardiana, her mother and her sisters returned to their houses, they have had to take on all the work that their father and brothers used to do. But in Krusha e Vogel, Ardiana’s situation is not exceptional. Around 120 men, almost 70 percent of the total male population of the village, are considered missing. So far only six bodies have been found. Witnesses claim that all of them were slaughtered, leaving the village inhabited almost only by women and children. Ardiana’s cousin, Bedri Shehu is one the few men from Krusha e Vogel to survive. At the time of the massacre, he was studying in the capital, Pristina.
They have a lot of courage, because in the beginning it was very difficult for them to adapt to the work that had been done exclusively by men. Women’s work was in the house -- that has been the custom for generations. But as time passed they realized that they could not survive without working, and so they committed themselves to it and found the courage to carry on.
The women now make a modest living growing peppers to sell at the market. They didn’t know anything about this business until after the war. But thanks to a Kosovan Non Governmental Organization, Sisters Qiriazi, the women received training in farming and learned to drive the tractor. After the war ended, the coordinator, Marta Prekpalaj, started working in Krusha e Vogel.
MARTA PREKPALAJ [Regional Coordinator, Qiriazi Sisters]
First I went from house to house with all my staff. We stayed with the women and ate with them too. Then we started organizing meetings in the school building, and talked with the women and girls who they gave us their ideas. We renovated a private house and opened the Qiriazi Sisters Center. Then the women gave us more suggestions and we publicized what had happened in Krusha e Vogel through the media and the Internet. Through this exposure a lot of donors came. It was the women themselves who came up with the ideas for the training courses.
The Qiriazi Sisters didn’t just teach the women of Krusha about farming and how to drive -- they also taught them other professions. Lavdije Shehu also lost her husband, and now she is the sole breadwinner for herself and her two sons who are at primary school.
If I hadn’t learned how to be a tailor I wouldn’t have been able to survive, I wouldn’t have been able to support my family. My children wanted to go to school and I would’ve let them down.
In Kosovo today, around 60 percent of the population are women, but only 30 percent of them are part of the general work force. On average, they are paid four times less than men.
Very often those of us who are working towards gender equality and on gender issues are seen as feminists and only working for women. We work for both genders. Without prosperity for men and women alike, Kosovo cannot develop.
Despite this huge tragedy, and all the difficulties that they’ve been through, the children in the village look happy. This would not have been achieved without the love, courage and hard work of their mothers, the women of Krusha.
[End credits]