Originally from Serbia, Violeta has been a longtime advocate for women's rights. While in Belgrade, she worked with our grantee partner, the Autonomous Women's Center, and volunteered with the SOS Hotline for Women and Children Victims of Violence and with Women in Black. Violeta worked as a gender violence counselor in the former Yugoslavia and organized campaigns to strengthen civil society initiatives against nationalism and war. In the U.S., Violeta has conducted research and advocacy on the impact of U.S. government foreign policy on women's human rights globally. Violeta holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Columbia University, New York. She speaks Serbian and is also proficient in Russian and Spanish.
Watch an inspiring video interview of Violeta Krasnic, or read the transcript below.
Global Fund for Women: Welcome to GFW Violeta! What excites you about working here?
Violeta Krasnic: I am honored to come on board the largest foundation in the world funding women's human rights! In a way, I am rejoining the path I started almost two decades ago in the former Yugoslavia when I worked with women and children survivors of domestic, sexual, and war violence. Then, we didn't even look at these as violations of human rights – this was before the slogan and the recognition that women's rights are human rights. I learned back then what the Global Fund for Women is promoting today: that women hold solutions for themselves and their communities. In the former Yugoslavia in the 90s, women promoted solutions to violence, nationalism, militarism, and war. So I'm excited about the prospect to support women's groups in the region where I originally came from: to promote positive social change while strengthening women's human rights.
GFW: What is your vision for the ECIS region as you take over a grantmaking portfolio of $1.5 million annually?
VK: I see a world of strong, resourceful, and sustainable women's organizations and networks, which foster the power of relationships. My vision is to inspire and strengthen these networks, and enable all of us to work together towards the goals we would like to achieve, while appreciating our differences as well as our interdependence. This is the vision that I already share with many others and the one that I hope to work towards and realize. Our time is now!
GFW: What, in your opinion, are some of the urgent issues facing the women's movement in the ECIS?
VK: I am fond of the saying that nothing happens without people’s zeal to create change, but nothing lasts without institutions and their capacity to sustain motivated people. I'm referring to institutions in a broad sense: those that serve women and their communities and those that must be challenged to do so. In that sense and from the perspective of my new job, the urgent issue in the region is funding. The funding situation for women's organizations in the region is very difficult, which then translates into a struggle that many of them face to maintain their agendas and continue their work. So strategic resource mobilization across stakeholders is the priority task, which the Global Fund has already begun pursuing.
When it comes to urgent thematic issues, the economic crisis and the surge in nationalism, conservatism, and fundamentalism are affecting the long-standing problems, such as gender-based violence, reproductive rights or political participation, as well as some specific populations, such as internally displaced people (IDP) and refugees, Roma women, and LGBTQI people. The two last groups in particular suffer some of the most serious human rights violations in the region, yet their rights are the least addressed.
GFW: As someone who has worked extensively with media, especially video and online/multi-media, how do you see the feminist movement using these tools and other emerging forms of media in furthering women's rights both in the ECIS and beyond?
VK: Strategy is the key! Video and other media, just as reports or street theater or policy analysis, are just tools that are the most effective when they add value to the existing strategy or campaign in order to increase their visibility and impact. Video is very conducive to feminist organizing because it “puts human into human rights,” so that women's stories and experiences are presented in a compelling way that inspires advocacy. Furthermore, video can help amplify the voices of excluded populations, counter stereotypes about them, and bring them in front of decision-makers to prompt them into action.
In Macedonia, I worked with organizations and self-advocacy groups that used video to bring the experiences and voices of sex workers in front of law enforcement officials in order to demand specific actions to end violence and abuse committed by the police officers and third parties. Sex workers have the right to live without violence and video helped make a compelling case toward that end. Finally, video can be a powerful mobilizing and fundraising tool, both online and through networks. These are some of the advantages of video and other media that women's organizations in the region could build from as they strategize their advocacy.
By Michele Kumi Baer & Preeti Mangala Shekar, Communications Team