"I do this work because I believe every girl and woman’s life counts.”

Albania cervical cancer 2

Scrolling through her social media page, 21-year-old Artemisa Seraj stumbled across a post from the Aulona Center offering seminars and workshops on sexual and reproductive healthcare for young people and students. Feeling like she had the opportunity to learn something about a subject that she and her friends rarely discuss, she decided to attend one of the seminars.

“I found the information very interesting because we don’t talk very much about these things with my friends. It is still a taboo. On the other hand, we know that the sexually transmitted infections are being spread among youngsters, but we don’t know how to protect ourselves.”

The first seminar went so well, Artemisa decided that she wanted to become a volunteer. “I like very much to pass the information on to others. So, I discussed with the Enela, the director of the center, to become a volunteer and here I am today.”

Empowering women & girls

Since becoming an activist Artemisa is now even more passionate about the importance of comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) for young people, gender equality and women’s rights. “I have known many other girls and women in our outreach activities that have no information about their reproductive and sexual life. Especially, girls from rural areas are the most deprived of this kind of information. The health centers have no staff or adequate equipment for gynaecological visits. Aulona center has high standards of friendly services for teenagers and youngsters, so you feel safe and not prejudiced against. Confidentiality is very high here and the doctors are very qualified. In the young groups, you feel like a community, you can speak openly about your concerns.”

Artemisa hopes that by distributing information to women and girls, it is empowering them as well giving them an opportunity to fight for their own rights. “I do think that even a single person can contribute to the improvement of the situation regarding CSE. It is an instinct now, whenever I meet a woman, I talk about the center. My greatest satisfaction as an activist is seeing them coming to the center for a [health] visit or for counselling, because this means that my work has paid off. I do this work because I believe every girl and woman’s life counts.”