Looking for a guide;
In search of the beginnings of a patriotic struggle of women in Albania;
In search of the models of women who have had the courage to challenge time and mentality;
In search of women who have broken very strict taboos and paved the way for the future;
In search of those that have put the Fatherland above everything.
These ladies have made their precious contribution not only by fighting and trying to free their country, but at the same time by laying the foundations and paving the way for the civilization of women. These ladies have lived and worked in different historical periods, they have shown courage, but above all prowess. The taboos they broke were about suppression, poverty and ignorance.
The women who made Albania
I would like to start with Donika Kastrioti, Elena Lukrecia Peshkopia, Nora of Kelmend, Tringa of Gruda, Dora D'Istria, Laskarina Bubulina, The Sisters Qirjazi, Paro Kita, Urani Rumbo, Marie Coba, Shote Galica, Santa Angjelina and above all with the Mother of the whole world: Saint Mother Teresa.
The activity of the famous Albanian women is closely linked to the circumstances in which they were born, the Albanian people acted and lived. As a result, a brief return to the past is more than necessary.
Obviously the sense of ethnic belonging and the long imprisonment have contributed to creating a logic of perennial resistance on the part of the Albanian people towards the various invaders. The basis of this resistance has always been the woman who acted through the education of the new generations, education that began with the first lullabies when they taught the desire for freedom and not to surrender, as well as respect for human and national values. For this reason, over the years the merits of the Albanian woman have occupied an increasingly important and particular place. The Kanun of Lek Dukagjini, one of the oldest customary codes of law in Europe, also recognizes their merits. According to this Kanun, the woman enjoyed the right to participate in assemblies and consequently was in important positions from which she could make decisions. The survival of this Kanun over the years and its continuous use by some is to be considered as a consequence of the resistance to the laws of the usurpers who tried to impose themselves on the Albanian people ..
"Giving instruction to a man means planting a tree that only makes shade, while instructing a woman means planting a tree that, besides giving shade, also bears fruit"
In the millennial history of humanity, unfortunately, there are few women who have distinguished themselves in various fields, and those who have succeeded it is because they have replaced or supported famous men. Many women have remained anonymous and have been identified with the common denominator of "woman". The isolated world of women, though teeming with activity and creativity, began to open only towards the end of the 18th century. In the following centuries, thanks to the individual insistence of women, the expression of their creative energy began. The end of the nineteenth century marks the framing of women in all spheres of society, but especially in circles where decisions could be made, thus enriching the precious heritage of humanity.
Obviously this phase of the story also involved Albanian women. Considering the ups and downs of the history of the Albanian people, it must be admitted that there are many women who deserve to be better known because they were the pillars of the family and the nation. Just like the Albanian woman seen by the eyes of Margaret Jursenal when she writes: "I would like an Albanian woman as a mother! ..." It is no coincidence that our womb gave birth to the largest of the Mothers in the world today, Saint Mother Teresa.
"I would like an Albanian woman as a mother!"
Persistence and sacrifice have been perpetually present according to historical sources as a form of resistance by Albanian women in the struggles for freedom and independence. They have resisted attempts to assimilate the places where they lived, including acculturation, teaching and cultivating patriotic, human, family education and popular creative tradition since ancient times. This was not the only area in which the Albanian woman was active because she distinguished herself not only in the political and military sphere, but also in that of culture and education. Obviously we cannot include everything in an article, but we can find a common denominator: fighters for freedom and independence, luminaries of Albanian culture and civilization.
Thanks to the union of the Albanian women, who resisted and acted in difficult circumstances and times, renowned personalities were born whose works have crossed the boundaries dictated by sex and nations. They have shown that the brain does not depend on sex and with their works they have revealed that there is no force that can stop a people and its desire for self-determination, global emancipation and gender equality. The Albanian people, like other peoples during the Middle Ages, experienced long periods of oppression like the Ottoman one. And it was precisely during the Middle Ages that the great Albanian principalities were born, such as the Aranites, Kastrioti, Balshaj, Muzakaj, etc., who have long resisted the powerful enemy.
The fifteenth century, a period of considerable importance for Western Europe, coincides with the Ottoman invasion of Eastern Europe which lasted five hundred years. The Albanians, opposing this invasion, joined forces with their principles in Christian coalitions that fought against the Ottomans. The Albanians, led by Giorgio Castriota Skanderbeg, opposed a strong resistance to the Turkish invasion, becoming an impassable wall for the Ottoman Empire in Europe. Skanderbeg was strongly supported by his wife, Donika Kastrioti, which was the person closest to him, in the political sphere and not only. She was Giorgio's right hand man. Unfortunately, even Skanderbeg did not succeed in stopping the infamous invasion of the Ottomans towards the West and towards their own land. Anti-Ottoman protests continued until the final fall of the Ottoman Empire.
Tringa of Gruda
He fought until the last breath against the Turkish invaders and never took off his weapon fighting against the oppression of his own land. Thanks to the subtle feminine intuition, she understood that without the education of women it was not possible to progress and the history, language, customs and habits of a people could not be handed down. And so in the years 1916-1917, sacrificed its properties and its wealth making possible the opening of Albanian schools in the region of Malësia and Madhe.
Her activity and her contribution to the independence of Albania are mentioned both in history and in Albanian literature, where she is spoken of as a courageous woman in the famous work of Gjergj Fishta entitled "Lahuta and Malësisë". Tringa is also one of the most widespread names in the region of Malësi, is the name of the young Albanians, brave daughters of the mountains who hated the oppressor and have always remained stoic in their resistance to the attacks of the Ottoman invader.Nora of Kelmend has become a celebrity and has become part of the history of Albania as a legend, that of a combative woman especially in front of the Turkish Pashà who was killed by her. Nora became the pride and symbol of the resistance of the Albanian woman for the independence of the nation.
Similar protests were also organized in Greece, where the most famous arvanitase woman in Albanian and Greek history Dhaskalina Pinoce-Bubulina (1821), he distinguished himself by having fought along with other Albanians to liberate Greece. Bubulina was a ship captain and at the same time a talented strategist who dedicated all his life and wealth to the struggle against the Ottoman invaders in the hope of restoring freedom to his people. Thanks to intelligence, wisdom and prowess, Bubulina became one of the most famous heroines in Greek history, leaving its mark both in the history of Albania and of Greece.
Unfortunately the destruction of the Ottoman Empire did not guarantee freedom to all the Albanian people. The wrong decisions taken at the London Ambassadors Conference left half of the Albanian people outside the nation's borders forcing this part of the population to continue fighting against the Greek and Serbian invasion.
In Kosovo, Shote Galica made possible the participation of other women in assemblies and even in war. She herself participated in 60 military operations and fought heroically for 12 years beside her husband. Shote Galica became the most charismatic figure of the Kaçak Movement in Kosovo, and after her husband's death Azem was the one who led the struggle for liberation.
Aware of the important role of women in the growth and education of new generations, the Turkish, Serbian or Greek invaders in various ways hindered the desire for independence and emancipation of Albanian women. They used some of the most humiliating methods to stop their struggle such as killing, deportation, imprisonment, curse or church defeat. Nevertheless, the struggle for the emancipation of the Albanian woman continued.
Sisters Sevasti and Parashqevi Qirjazi
Regarding this it is interesting to read what was written by the Swiss teacher Venera Pfeninger, who taught at the "Kyrias" Institute of Qirjazi sisters in the 1928-1930 years: “The Kyrias institute served me as a key to access the history of the country, the history of this so badly known Albania, invaded by currents coming from the north, east, south and west . But listening to our students ... I understood that thanks to their strong and decisive character they managed to resist the bad temptations of cosmopolitanism that erases and deforms people ... " Sevasti Qirjazi had entered the black list of the Greeks who wanted to eliminate it. Tomë Gjyshja writes, "the first Albanian secular school of Kushe Mica she became very well known in Scutari ”. But we must not forget too Marie Coba, the intellectual and patriot who made an enormous contribution to the emancipation and integration of the Albanian woman into society.
And it is precisely in Albania that the brave Nora, Tringa, Parashqevia, Shota, etc. were born and fought alongside men, giving glory and honor to their homeland and becoming an example to follow for future generations, an example of heroism and pride .
Elena Gjika (Dora d'Istria)
The letter signed by 300 students from various schools of Scutari in the 1881 and the silver pen donated to Elena Gjika (Dora d'Istria), they demonstrate the gratitude felt for what she did in Albania and testify to the culture and humanity of a patriot who predicted independence already in the 1866 and who we can define without fear a luminary of world feminism. She remains one of the most famous women of the nineteenth century. Writer, scientist, publicist, patriot and diplomat, she embraced the Albanian cause trying to raise awareness of the world arena in a moment of particular difficulty for our nation which was in danger of being dismembered.
She published various articles and studies, such as "Kombësia Shqiptare, sipas këngëve popullore"  and "Shqiptarët and të dyja anëve të Adriatikut"  where she argued the existence of our nation, history, antiquity of Albanian people, the cultural and artistic heritage, the rich oral literature, the folklore, the rare and unique traditional clothes of all the Albanian regions. Dora wrote: "The Albanian people, one of the oldest in Europe, deserved to be free so that they could develop their creativity. Dear and dear Mr. Geronimo, my honored homeland is the Arbëria, and I will belong to it until the end of my life ... ".
Another important aspect of the precious contribution of Elena Gjika in the formation of the Albanian national identity is that concerning the contacts and relationships maintained with the intellectuals and patriots of Arbëresh, who had moved to Italy centuries before. Among his most important relationships are those with Demetrio Camarda and Geronimo De Rada. She was much appreciated in the intellectual and cultural circles of the time as a strong supporter of the Albanian Renaissance and had managed to gain the respect and appreciation of a freedom fighter like Garibaldi with whom he maintained a very interesting correspondence.
His friendship with Garibaldi was so profound that he called her "Courageous Sister" and their collaboration was strengthened in the good of the Albanian cause. In one of the written letters and De Rada reads: "I send you the letter about General Garibaldi in the hope that you will be able to send it to Albania and publish it in a Calabrian newspaper. The time has come for the nations to raise their voices ... ". Meanwhile, Elena designed a plan for the publication of an Albanian newspaper in northern Albania by De Rada entitled "Flamuri i Skënderbeut"  ... De Rada later published it with the title: "Flamuri i Arbërit" [ 4]. After the first publication she congratulated De Rada telling him the following words: "Your noble efforts ..."
In another letter addressed to De Rada we note his attempts to realize the grammar of the Albanian language: "I have just sent a copy of the Albanian Grammar to the National Library of Florence, where foreign philologists are very thick. On the December issue of "Antologia" I will complete my studies on the Epopée Asiatique (Asian Epopee) ... I was doing research on the Albanian language vocabularies, just as you were writing a vocabulary of the Albanian language ... my research in Paris and Vienna convinced me of the need for an excellent publication, far better than ... or the catalogs collected by Ksilender, Lik, Pukevil etc ... The vocabularies must be able to lighten the research of the Albanologists and must serve the ever greater intellectual needs of the Albanians ".
Through the exchange of correspondence, he succeeded in proposing the creation of some intellectual institutions inside and outside the borders of Albania ... "Given that these institutions do not yet have a political matrix, apparently they must take on literary and neutral features for the Turks ...". Elena continues with another letter where she writes to De Rada that ... she has proposed that in Calabria, in the heart of the arbëresh, an Academy be created where there are corresponding members and honorable members so as to create a bond with the literary association in Albania. Here is another letter where his fighting spirit for the great Albanian cause is clear: "...
General Garibaldi was quick to write to tell me that he fully agrees with the Academy's project ... tell the gentleman that we collected about 15-20 thousand rifles for the revolt that will take place in Albania ... ". For this cause, she had come into contact with many arbëresh and foreign personalities in politics and diplomacy.
Elena Gjika's correspondence with Geronimo De Rada still continues. We talk about the year 1871 ... (A copy of the letter is found in the volume of A.'s monograph.
Kondos) "..." My studies on the arbëresh writers of southern Italy will be published simultaneously in Italian, French and German in Venice, Athens and Vienna ... The time has come to bring to light the buried history of Arbëria ... I have a particular pleasure in reconstructing the history of the Albanians whose pages are widespread in Europe, Asia and America and I will call it "the game of the sudden era" as happens with the villages in Sicily ... the cause of Albania is my cause and obviously I will be happy to put what remains of my life at the disposal of this brave people ... "
"Giving instruction to a man means planting a tree that only makes shade, while instructing a woman means planting a tree that, besides giving shade, also bears fruit". Thus wrote the Albanian ideologist Sami Frashëri in the work "Gratë" . The program of the Prizren League was of enormous importance for Albanian women because it was there that the values and merits of the Albanian woman were recognized as well as her role in human society. Many girls' schools have been opened such as the "Shkolla and Vashave" in Korçë, founded by the sisters Sevasti and Parashqevi Qirjazi. Girls of different religions began to educate themselves in these schools that they continued to open also in other cities of Albania as Scutari, Tirana, Elbasan, Prizren etc ...
This and other facts concerning the work and war of women alongside men during the years of the National Revival clearly testify to the self-denial shown by women in offering their help during the war for independence, to get out of the darkness of the Middle Ages , to buy freedom, education and knowledge. The work done by women in this period has paid off very quickly. The students and teachers of the Albanian girls' schools have become tireless activists of the National Rebirth, supporting the fighters for the liberation, fighting together with them, embroidering the fire-red flags with the double-headed eagle that they would have waved in the day of independence, the 28 November of the 1912, sacrificing everything like their youth and love to become part of history.
During those years, alongside the democratic patriots there were numerous activists who left their mark for their culture, organizational skills, love for their homeland and prowess, working during the dangerous years of Turkish oppression. Their struggle began after the birth of some patriotic circles and related organs, the result of the work of some women. In this period the first Albanian women's associations were born such as: "Ylli i Mëngjezit"  in Korça, "Përparimi"  in Argirocasto, the newspaper "Shqypeja e Shqipnisë" , "Gazetë për Gratë Myslimane" , the newspaper "Mehariq", "Shpresa Kombëtare"  by Marigo Pozio, the association "Përlindja" was created in Korça and headed by Evdhoksi Gërmenji who later published the magazine "Mbleta". Later it was published "Gruaja Shqiptare" , "Shqiptarka" , "Përmirësimi"  etc.
In the 1911 the flag embroidered by Marigo Posio was handed over to our hero Ismail Qemali who raised it on November 28 of 1912. These women gave everything they could even in difficult conditions, in a period characterized by conservatism, backwardness, ignorance, lack of culture and illiteracy. If you browse the pages of the press of that period, you immediately notice the desire for construction that characterized the Albanian feminists, the real marathon runners of liberation and independence. The problems that aroused concern among women also appear very clearly. They asked through the press that their rights and their freedom be recognized, fighting against the old customs which were nothing more than part of the patriarchal inheritance to the Albanian society from the Turkish invader. It must be emphasized that despite the limited geographical extension, attempts at organizing women in Albania by the first Albanian intellectuals have had a significant importance. They have played an important role in the progress of the country to get out of the backwardness and women's associations were born as a meeting place for members and sympathizers and it is in these centers that the elements of a democratic society have appeared. There the women and girls learned what it meant to have the right to a secret vote for the election of the governing bodies and to be included in the political life of the country, a right that was denied them by the governments of this period. Despite the difficulties and obstacles, the feminist movement of this period represented an important base on which the Albanian feminist movement developed and organized in the following years.
 Albanian nationality according to popular songs "
 "The Albanians on both sides of the Adriatic".
 "The flag of Skanderbeg"
 "The flag of Arbër"
 "The morning star"
 "Albanian Albanian"
 "The newspaper of Muslim women"
 "National Hope"
 "The Albanian woman"
 "The Albanian"
 "The improvement"