Fatima Naza

Fatima Naza is a Montenegrin women’s and children’s rights activist and the co-founder of the Center for Roma Initiatives (CRI). CRI is the only organization in Montenegro working to promote the rights of Romani (Roma) women. Roma women face many challenges and abuses due to the strong patriarchal culture within their own community as well as blatant racism from institutions of the state. Roma women are seldom allowed to leave their own homes and between 40% – 70% of Roma women in Montenegro contend that they were forced into marriage before the age of eighteen. Fatima Naza has been fighting against child marriage and violence against women for over 10 years. In 2004, Fatima and her colleagues, CRI co-founders Jovana Mrkaic and Fana Delija, began to lead discussion groups for Roma women on the importance of education and taking control of their own lives. The number of Roma children attending public schools and Roma women with university degrees has greatly increased over the years as a result of Naza and the CRI’s continuous efforts. The rise in educated Roma women has also led to them working outside the home which was almost unheard of as little as ten years ago.

Fatima has also starred in the play “Sedam (Seven)”, a drama based on the life stories of seven women rights activists from various parts of the world. Naza played the role of Mukhtar Mai, the survivor of a brutal gang rape who has gone on to be a leading voice in the fight for women’s rights in Pakistan. In 2012, Naza, Mrkaic and Delija attended a ceremony in Stockholm where they were presented the Anna Lindh Award in the field of women’s participation and leadership. Naza and CRI have also been recognized by the European Commission for their role in the integration of Roma peoples in Montenegro.

This portrait of Fatima Naza is inspired by Montenegrin textile and stitch, which is central to the artistic history of Montenegro. Montenegrin stitch is based on the cross stitch and bears a range of influences from surrounding nations to ancient Roma and Islamic traditions. The stitching reflects Fatima’s efforts to integrate Roma women into the fabric of Montenegrin society.

Illustration by Julie Cho

Montenegro

This portrait of Fatima Naza is inspired by Montenegrin textile and stitch, which is central to the artistic history of Montenegro. Montenegrin stitch is based on the cross stitch and bears a range of influences from surrounding nations to ancient Rome and Islamic traditions. The stitching reflects Fatima’s efforts to integrate Roma women into the fabric of Montenegrin society.

Total Area
13,812 km2 (161st)

Demonym
Montenegrin

Government
Parliamentary republic

Population
11,077,439

Capital
Podgorica

GDP (PPP)
$16,654