Women may not rule the balkans, but they hold some powerful positions
Women in power is not what would first cross one’s mind in association with the Balkans – a traditional society where most important functions are still held by men. But change, albeit slow, is taking place and there are some ambitious females in the region that command quite a bit of power. Two of them were included on Forbes’ 100 most powerful women list. At the Adriatic Journal we looked at who are the Balkan women that stand out in this male-dominated region.
Author: Ana Potočnik
6/11 - TEA OBREHT
Tea Obreht, a successful American author, has true Yugoslav roots, having been born in Serbia to a single mother whose parents are of Slovene and Bosniak origin. Her father, who did not take part in her upbringing, was a Bosniak, too. After graduating from the University of Southern California, Obreht received a MFA in fiction from the creative writing program at Cornell University in 2009. The Tiger’s Wife, her debut novel, won the 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction and was a 2011 National Book Award finalist. Obreht was named as one of the twenty best American fiction writers under 40 by The New Yorker. Inland, her second novel, was released in 2019.
5/11 - ROKSANDA ILINČIĆ
Roksanda Ilinčić is a Serbian designer whose creations have been worn by some of the most beautiful women in the world, including the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton, Michelle Obama, Cate Blanchett, Emily Blunt, Kristen Stewart, Amy Adams, Kiera Knightley and even Melania Trump. Ilinčić set up her own label in 2003 and debuted at London Fashion Week in 2005 with a small collection of dresses. She has since become a staple on the fashion show and has added swimwear, childrenswear, handbags, jewellery and sunglasses to her eclectic collection. For her designs she has also won numerous awards including the British Designer of the Year at Elle Style Awards in 2016;. Business Woman of the Year at the Harper’s Bazaar UK Women of the Year Awards in 2014; the Red Carpet Designer award at the British Elle Style Awards in 2013 and in 2012 the Red Carpet Award at the British Fashion Awards.
4/11 - NATAŠA ČAGALJ
Nataša Čagalj is one of the most prominent Slovenian fashion designers, who has been pushing the boundaries of prestigious fashion houses such as Cerruti, Lanvin, Stella McCartney and Ports 1961. The fashion designer Peter Movrin said Čagalj is not only a big name in the world of fashion, it is also the heart that everyone wants to have in their studios. Čagalj enjoyed creating from a young age: she sent her first sketches of fashion dresses to the Croatian magazine Svijet at the end of primary school. Her big ambition was to attend postgraduate studies at Central St Martin’s College in London and she credits her husband for helping her fulfil that wish.
“I really wanted to study there. And I have to say, if it wasn’t for my boyfriend (and now husband) Mitja, who sold his car so we could go to London, I wouldn’t have done it myself.”
She was considered one of the best female students at the school that taught the likes of Alexander Mc- Queen, John Galliano and others. All her qualities – precision workmanship, sophistication and careful design of details as well as perseverance, focus and, above all, teamwork ability – have been recognized by the world-renowned fashion houses such as Cerutti, Lanvin, and Stella McCartney, as well as Ports 1961, the Canadian luxury fashion brand, where she was a creative director for five years. She has recently left the company and is working on setting up her own brand.
Čagalj's precision workmanship, sophistication and careful design of details have been recognized by the world-renowned fashion houses.
3/11 - RITA ORA
From humble roots as a Kosovo refugee in London to being one of the biggest pop stars in the world, Rita Ora has come a long way. Rita Sahatçiu Ora rose to fame in 2012 when she featured in a single Hot Right Now by DJ Fresh – the single reached number one in the United Kingdom. Her debut album Ora was released in August 2012 and debuted at the top of the UK Albums Chart. The accolades followed. Ora was nominated for Best New Artist, Push Artist and Best UK/Ireland Act at the 2012 MTV Europe Music Awards.
After a string of UK hits in 2014 and early 2015, Ora wanted to be released from her contract with the Roc Nation and ended up filing a lawsuit against the label. Roc Nation filed a counter-lawsuit against Ora for breaking her recording contract, but the two sides reached a settlement in May 2016. Later that year she performed in a concert at the vigil for Mother Teresa’s canonisation at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome, alongside other Albanian artists, accompanied by the Kosovo Philharmonic Orchestra.
2/11 - DUA LIPA
The London native Dua Lipa started her musical career by posting covers of her favourite songs on Youtube before hitting the big time. Dua Lipa, whose first name means love in Albanian, was born in London to Kosovo Albanian parents. She signed with Warner Music Group in 2015 and soon released her first single New Love. Ever since then she’s been a prominent chart topper. Her success was further confirmed by winning three Brit Awards and two Grammy Awards. But, like her fellow chart topper Rita Ora, Lipa hasn’t forgotten her roots. In 2016, she and her father set up the Sunny Hill Foundation in Prishtina to donate to the causes that will benefit the citizens of Kosovo. When the earthquake struck Albania in late 2019, Lipa appealed to her fans for support and donations to help the relief effort.
1/11 - MARINA ABRAMOVIĆ
Marina Abramović is a performance artist known for her use of pain and physical limits as a form of expression. Even after four decades in the “business”, she still continues to create new work, exploring the relationship between herself and her audience, and transforming both through her performances. Born in Belgrade in 1946, Abramović went on to study art both in her hometown and in Zagreb, developing an early interest in performance art, including experiments with sound installations. Her arguably most provocative work, however, is 1974’s Rhythm 0, a performance in the Italian city of Naples in which Abramović directed the audience: “There are 72 objects on the table that one can use on me as desired.”
If you leave it up to the audience, they can kill.
” The objects included razor blades, knives and a loaded gun, while the artist sat motionless as people cut open her clothes or slashed her skin. “If you leave it up to the audience, they can kill,” Abramović said after the performance of an inherent human cruelty that she sought to expose. In 2010, her popular retrospective The Artist is Present was exhibited at The Museum of Modern Art. The work was inspired by her belief that stretching the length of a performance beyond expectations serves to alter our perception of time and foster a deeper engagement in the experience. Seated silently at a wooden table across from an empty chair, she waited as people took turns sitting in the chair and locking eyes with her. Over the course of nearly three months, for eight hours a day, she met the gaze of 1,000 strangers, many of whom were moved to tears.