Striving for Gender Equality: Meet Eurisa Rukovci

From the USA to Kosovo, Eurisa Rukovci has inspired many on her journey, but her new project, Grazeta, is set to be her biggest yet.

Ms. was launched as a “one-shot” sample insert in New York Magazine at the beginning of 1970s- and today it stands as a turning point in both women’s rights movements and American journalism.

Eurisa Rukovci grew up reading this magazine, which stands as an extraordinary example of translating “a movement into a magazine.”

In 2007, she moved from New Jersey to her home country – Prishtina, Kosovo, with the idea to bring it to Kosovo what she has been reading and learning in the United States.

Here begins her extraordinary journey of working on topics such as; sexual health, social psychology, and the history of feminist movements.

Eurisa, a young brave women’s rights activist from Kosovo, is the Executive Director of Social Lab – psycho-social initiative working to increase awareness of psychological and social phenomena in the Kosovar society, and the co-creator of the first sexual health application in Kosovo called Shnet (Eng: Health).

One of the most important projects of Social Lab is Grazeta – a feminist magazine published in Albanian, promoting and encouraging critical thinking around socio-economic and political topics concerning women and their rights.

Today, more than a decade after leaving the United States, Eurisa, sits down with Youth Time to speak more about her activism in women’s rights and finding the proper way to contribute to women’s rights – while bearing in mind the specific needs of the people and Kosovo’s environment.

Read on for a one-of-a-kind journey of how young women are making a difference.

 

The Amazing Story of Social Lab

Since 2018, Social Lab has been a non-governmental organisation operating in Kosovo with its mission to create safe virtual and physical spaces for young people, especially women, to discuss issues of mental health and gender.

“With our everyday work we empower young people and especially women to become part of the policy-making process in Kosovo,” says Eurisa, who is also author of the digital feminist strip Hyjnesha.

Social Lab’s vision, she adds, is to promote a society based on the principle of equality where women and young people will have the opportunities and attention they deserve.

Two wonderful projects of Social Lab are Shnet, and Grazeta – both of which we will elaborate below.

 

The Amazing Story of Shnet

Young people nowadays spend a lot of time on their phones. Kosovo is no exception.

Hence, educating young people via phone seemed just essential to Eurisa, who came up to create Shnet – an application for mobile phones that contains scientific information about sexual education and sexuality.

“Young people throughout Kosovo spend a lot of time on their phones, and it is only natural that phones should be used for this very sensitive issue in Kosovar society,” she says, while elaborating more on her app about sexual education.

Eurisa’s Shnet is even more impactful when we recall that the curricula in Kosovo’s schools lack sexual education as a school subject.

So, sexual education and issues surrounding sex remain a topic rarely spoken and widely misunderstood.

Sex is an important part of people’s lives, but it is shrouded in secrecy, mystery and shame–which lead not only to misconceptions and myths but also diseases and unintended pregnancies, Eurisa writes in her piece The birds, the bees, and now ‘Shnet’!

Speaking to Youth Time, she underlines “unfortunately even today the lack of awareness of bodily autonomy and poor sexual health education lead to gender-based violence.”

So far, the work she and her team at Shnet have done in various schools in cities and rural areas in Kosovo shows a need for a paradigm shift in sexual education in the country.

“We aim to help young people, with a higher emphasis on young women to take control of their bodies and their lives. Until today we had a blast while working towards that goal!”

“Often, young women and women do not know their body anatomy, they lack sexual education,” she says, while adding that because of Shnet they [women and young women] can access all the information simply by logging in into the app, and not necessarily having to go somewhere for it.

Besides, Shnet counters myths and incorrect information on sexual education.

 

The Amazing Story of Grazeta

Recalling the positive influence that reading Ms. Has had on her, having a feminist newspaper in the Albanian language was born as a necessity, Eurisa says.

“Through Grazeta we are building an online platform that serves for women and by women.”

Promoting and encouraging critical thinking and feminist responses to key political and socio-economic dynamics is a crucial tool towards challenging and ending sexism in all of its forms, she acknowledges.

Grazeta welcomes sample writings and opinions from all women. Serving in this was as a unique platform for amplifying women’s voices in the media.

Although, when Eurisa came back to Kosovo, she experienced a hardship to adapt. Eurisa is fulfilled with all her work and activism and she is now counting her blessings.

Eurisa Rukovci is the co-creator of the first sexual health application in Kosovo called Shnet, supported by UPSHIFT.  

She completed her studies at the University of Prishtina – Department of Psychology, and later became the Executive Director of NGO Social Lab. 

Since 2015, she writes as a columnist from Kosovo for regional media, while working as a book translator. Eurisa has been constantly engaged with activism, especially regarding women’s rights, and has conducted as well as aided in several scientific researches in social and cultural psychology. 

Her vocation fields are sexual health, social psychology, the history of feminist movements in the world as well as culture critique.


Kosovo is a small country in the South-eastern Europe, where you can find a lot of inspiring stories, such as:

GERMIN: A Kosovo Voice for a Brighter Tomorrow

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