Cecilia Gazulli, 2nd generation WAVE Youth Ambassador from Albania, shares her journey as a feminist activist in the series THE POWER OF YOUTH. It only takes one encounter to realize the importance of contributing to positive change in our society.
My name is Cecilia, 26, born and raised in Shkoder, a big and important city of Albania, yet a small town when compared to the mindset of people and other metropoles of its own kind. I consider myself lucky to have had the possibilities of following the best schools I could ask for in my hometown. I was luckily raised in a very feminist environment thanks to my parents being quite open minded and well educated, and… being parents of three girls.
My story as an activist starts with my father being the most feminist man I know. I never truly understood though, if he would be the same awesome man I know, if he didn’t have three girls to raise in a patriarchal country like ours!
This man worked the most difficult work one could work on. Thirty years fighting crime at all its forms at the state police, until they assigned him as the head office in the sector of fighting violence against women, children and minorities. I always saw him stressing out because of his difficult job, but never before his last five years of his career I had seen him become so fragile, emotional and ready to spend all 24 hours each day at his office or somewhere else helping a woman or a child affected by violence. He truly understood the importance of his mission, as he put every woman he started approaching in his office, in me and my sisters place.
As I was spending time at my hostel at 21 years old, my father asked me one day if I had a free room for this Roma lady who had no place to stay for the night and he had just rescued her from her abusive husband.
Little did I know that was my call to raise my voice in all forms and at any time! Little did I know how much that short stay at my little hostel would mean to that lady! We were her heroes of the night, and still to this day, nothing can compete to this wonderful feeling! When listening to her story and meanwhile feeling so grateful for my life, I realized that it is up to us, the youth, the lucky ones to have the freedom to talk, the ones who have the freedom of choosing who we want to become, to raise our voices for this woman. Not only for her, but also all the other women we will probably never see, but that are somewhere out there, blamed for being the victim, threatened to death day by day from some male figure inside their houses, and even society, pretending not to see nor hear them and their struggle.
Since we are the future and since the past is already gone, it is up to us to make the change that in my opinion should have been made a long time ago. We are aware and conscious about what is happening to women and girls around the world and we can no longer remain silent.
There comes a time when silence is betrayal, my dearest, and that time has come! Speak up to StepUp!
I cannot highlight this enough: Improving education is the first step! The best way to end violence against women and girls is to prevent it from happening in the first place by addressing its root and structural causes.
Speak up to StepUp! Prevention should start early in life by educating and working with young boys and girls, and by promoting respectful relationships and gender equality. Working with the youth is a “safe bet” for faster and sustained progress on preventing and eradicating gender-based violence. While public policies and interventions often overlook this stage, it is critical to take this, to take us, the youth, into account, when values and norms around gender equality are forged.
Author: 2nd generation WAVE Youth Ambassador from Albania, Cecilia Gazulli