Few of the Bravest Albanian Women

Rrita Reka

March 8, 2020

Gratë e Guximshme Shqiptare

For International Women’s Day, March 8, we decided to create something original that comes from our national history and the position of women throughout. The idea was to combine two different concepts into a single one: marking International Women’s Day and the achievements of Albanian women throughout history.

The main purpose was to select some names from different fields of society that little is known about their lives, activities and achievements. The selection of names was carried out with the aim of covering as many different areas as possible and from different regions where Albanians live. The women selected for this concept represent activities in different and important areas of a society. The fields in which these women have acted vary from art, science, politics and society.

Lets learn a little more about these emblematic figures. (Listing of names is done  randomly without any sorting criteria.)

Musine Kokalari, 1917-1983 was the first Albanian writer. Through her writings, she expressed her revolutionary spirit and raised awareness against the communist oppression.

Valentina Pistoli, 1928 is the first Albanian architect. She studied at Sofia University in Bulgaria and led the group of architects who designed the Hotel Tirana plan.

Qemoran Toptani, 1912-1981 was the first Albanian surgeon. After completing her education in Vienna and Rome, she returned to Tirana where she was distinguished as one of the best surgeons to heal World War II wounded.

Tringë Ismajli, 1880-1917 was a guerrilla fighter who was part of the Gruda clan of the Malësia who fought against the Ottoman Empire.

Sisters Qiriazi, Sevasti 1871-1949, and Parashqevi 1880-1970, originally from Bitola, were among the first women to attend an American college in Constantinople. The Qiriazi sisters stand out for the great contribution they have made to national education and emancipation.

The Zengo sisters, Sofia 1915-1976 and Androniqi 1913-2000, are the first Albanian painters to be recognized for the first professional paintings in the history of Albanian visual art.

Shote Galica, 1895-1927 was the People’s Heroine and fighter of the Kosovo uprising for national liberation and unification.

Dora D’Istria or Elena Gjika, 1828-1888 was an Albanian intellectual and revolutionary. Beyond the intellectual experience, she also helped to affirm the national cause, especially in her great contribution to the Albanian League of Prizren.

Xhevë Lladrovci, 1955-1998 was a KLA fighter during the last war in Kosovo. She is the only woman fighter to receive the rank of Major General.

Xhanfise Keko, 1928-2007 was the first Albanian film director and one of the founders of the film studio, ‘New Albania’.

Nexhmie Zaimi, 1914-2003 was the first Albanian journalist to work for CNN and Voice of America. Zaim was also one of the first women to report from the Middle East in the 1950s.

Erifili Bezhani, 1917-1959, was the first Albanian lawyer to graduate with a law degree in France, but was tragically condemned by the communist regime in Albania.

Eleni Qirici, 1928 was the first Albanian actress to break into the Hollywood film scene where she was part of the film company ‘Goldwyn Mayer’.

Marte Tunaj, 1948-2016 is the first woman to have the courage to speak on behalf of all women raped during the recent war in Kosovo.

Shaqe Çoba 1875-1954, was one of the first intellectual women to contribute to raising the image of women in society where she also established the organization ‘Albanian Woman’ in 1920.

Among these women, there are a lot of other names that have marked the Albanian history, but these are some of the few names which we don’t have a lot information about.

Happy 8th of March!

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