Sevim Arbana, born 1951, was one of the first activists of the democratic movement in Albania and the founder of the organization Useful to Albanian Women (UAW). She is also a human rights activist who supports groups in need and was a founder of the peace movement, Woman Bridge for Peace and Understanding, in the Balkans.
During the transition period to democracy, Sevim Arbana was one of the first activists of the democratic movement in Albania. In 1993, she founded the NGO Useful to Albanian Women (UAW). Under her leadership, many important projects were initiated that later on would influence Albanian society, including a rehabilitation center for street children, a campaign against trafficking of Albanian girls and women, and the first Women’s Club in Albania. A human rights activist, she supports marginalized women, poor and homeless children, and the elderly. In 1997, she was elected president of the NGO Forum, the first umbrella NGO in the country. As such, she led the movement for peace and development. The building of a greenhouse by a women’s NGO was her idea – an idea that brought a great message of peace in time of war. The flowers were donated and given as gifts at concerts and activities as well as to the President of Albania. During the Kosovo war her organization supported 3800 Kosovo Albanians with food, shelter, and other humanitarian aid, and showed that women know how to combine devotion and professionalism, simplicity and sincerity in all their actions. After the end of the Kosovo war, having successfully cooperated with other feminist groups, Sevim Arbana – together with a friend and Women in Black – initiated a “Woman Bridge for Peace and Understanding” between the different ethnic groups in Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Kosovo, and Albania. United and working together the different women groups became closer. They all know and understand that women in the Balkans are in a similar situation: they are violated, they are poor, they were raped and have no voice, and yet, they are tolerant and have many ideas and the passion to fight for changes.
Useful to Albanian Women (UAW) Woman Bridge for Peace and Understanding