Women Who Lead –Jelka Klun

Hi there, welcome to the show.

So glad you could join us. What many of you may not know is that I spent eight months of my year on the Portuguese, Camino de Santiago. That is the walk that originates Lisbon and moves its way up to Santiago. For those of you who have seen the movie “The Way,” you would know that that path also travels from France to Santiago. Yes, I have the great fortune every evening of sitting at the table with people from around the world. Sure, we start with what our feet feel like, and then we move on to what’s really going on in our respective worlds. What are our dreams? What are our hopes? What’s really happening in parts of the world that you and I probably never get a chance to explore and uncover? Well, that just happened to me the other night when I sat beside Jelka Klun.

Jelka is a judge in Slovenia. Now, if you’re anything like me, you might need to know where that is. So, Slovenia is in Central Europe. She’s bordered by Italy, Austria, Crotatia and Hungary. And indeed when you see the pictures of this nation she is magnificent, but she’s had a terribly interesting history. In 1991, she broke away from Yugoslavia, the communist state in which she had inhabited for many years. The person that I’m speaking with is a judge who would have been dealing in the lower courts very near the time of that transition.

If we know anything about social justice we know this, that if the lower courts do not understand how to judge fairly with youth, middle age, elderly, who are trying to make their ways in the system, then our society truly starts to fall apart. And so I really wanted to share the conversation I had with Jelka, because I wanted to find out what it meant to be in transition through that period of time. And I also wanted to find out what it meant to be a woman, who had come from living in a communist state in which men and women are considered equal to a place and time when the marketplace is operating with a different type of energy. Jelka will speak about ying and yang energy. Ying energy being the feminine, Yang being the masculine, both of which we need in order to operate. But before I get too far ahead of myself I’d like to introduce our wonderful guest tonight Jelka Klun.

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Lesley:  So, welcome Jelka Klun from Slovenia. It’s wonderful to have you here chatting with me about what it has meant for you to be a judge in a social system that is trying –I think—in many ways to help young people to not continue a life of crime, a life of dissonance, and yet you’ve chosen a job where that is what you want to do.


Jelka:     First, I want to thank you to be chosen to make this interview. And as a first pilgrim and I come from Slovenia, it’s a small country for only 2 million inhabitants in South Europe. And yes, I work as a judge for 18 years, and I was a judge for minor offenses because I want to work with people whose many judges, many people treats like criminals even they are not. It easily make something that seems like a criminal but it’s not.


Lesley:  So what would be an example of that?


Jelka:     Example, maybe in traffic, you know when you’re driving a car, it’s so many possibility to make a little mistake and there is a crash. And then, “Oh he did this,” “He did that. His injury…” and so on. I know that one moment objective circumstances help to make crash and to hurt some other men or women in the street and I want to help people. Yes, they have to obey for their…did not to be…so be careful in the street, but not it’s everything are criminal. And I want to work with young people, who were once too loud in their apartment, and then the neighbors call the police and they treat it like criminals. But they are young, they want to enjoy, they want to celebrate something and it’s not to hurt these people. And I want to help older people. In our country you can drive till 80 years, and many of these men and women drive because this is the possibility to free, to be independent. And if you take this license, their lives are changed and different. They are so sad and so want; they need their help from their children or their neighbors to go to the shop. And I try to let this license for more if I decide they make a minor offense is in traffic and I think 30 years they are none. And then one in our law says “Take his license.” I didn’t make this.


Lesley:  So, can you just tell me a little bit about what it means to be a woman in your country?


Jelka:     Oh it’s easy to answer. It’s good to be a woman in our country, I feel that way. I want to be a judge and I became a judge. I decide not to be a judge and then it’s more possibility to do what I like. I have the children, I have some property. It’s not hard to achieve what you want. If you work hard and it’s not a political establishment, not a social establishment…


Lesley:  So in your country, the gender that you are does not determine how far you can go.


Jelka:     No. it’s maybe in some jobs that men has little more selling, yes, it’s a possibility but it’s not so many difference. I don’t think or feel that I am less because I am a woman. I do many things better than the men and (haha) I was so successful in this.


Lesley:  So, you’ve been successful and never felt that there was any prejudice or any type of discrimination against you as a woman.


Jelka:     In my life, no, but I think many women thinks so because it’s an easy way. Oh, I’m a woman, I can’t be a judge for example or I can’t be something, I don’t know. If you want, if you try, if you work hard, you can be what you are.


Lesley:  So the whole thing is about really digging in and doing what’s necessary to achieve what you really want. And it doesn’t matter what gender you are as long as you’re prepared to invest your time, your energy, your dreams in that way anything is really possible.


Jelka:     Yes and in other direction. First your dream, then your energy, and then you can…


Lesley:  Right. So, first, you’ve got to set your dream, then your energy can come, and then the action can follow it. Is there impart in terms of where you’re located in Europe and in some ways the history of your country, has that affected you think how the equality of men and women are today?


Jelka:     Yes, because they live in Yugoslavia with six republics and their culture is different than ours. The women in south of our country is treated differently. More like women…men adores their women, and in our country the women are is equal to men.


Lesley:  Ah, so what you’re saying is South of you in the other regions below women are adored.


Jelka:     Yes.


Lesley:  …which doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re equal.


Jelka:     Yes, it’s not necessarily mean. Yes. They adore them. Woman is a woman, they could body and moving and it’s different. In one way it’s not good for us in Slovenia because they now play the men role, and the young role get in front of the ying –the feminine, the soft, the gentle. It’s not good for our children and it’s not good for partnerships, because man has to be man and woman has to be woman in the basic road.


Lesley:  But what you’re saying is, is that there’s a mixture of the ying and the yang in women who are achieving in your country.


Jelka:     Yes, there’s a mixture and there is more younger role and I think it’s not good, but it also means you can achieve everything.


Lesley:  What part is not good?


Jelka:     We lost our sensibility as a woman, we walk like a man, we talk like a man. We want to be like a man’s soul, we can be a judge, a director of bank or prime minister. For example, we have one year ago our prime minister was a woman. But I think in the world now is nothing and that women must be women in this internal nature.


Lesley:  Yes. Yes. So in some ways, have you felt you had to trade off that ying part of you to achieve what you’ve achieved so far as a judge?


Jelka:     Yes. And I think in partnerships that is not good…that is not good. Men now…it’s easy to say man is afraid of a woman, but I think basically it is so. It’s afraid to women, who talk, and walk, and work and think like men.


Lesley:  Yes. So looks and acts with all that yang energy and that can intimidate a man in terms of what kind of partnership he can have with that woman.


Jelka:     Yes. I think man wants to be a man, but today the woman don’t let him to be a man in all roles.


Lesley:  And so be because it’s taken the yang energy to achieve in your society the roles such us judgeships to become that type of position, there’s other tradeoffs of what’s occurred in relationships by having to become that. In other words, what’s happened is, is that becoming the yang has made a difficult to have relationships.


Jelka:     Yes, definitely, I think so.


Lesley:  And so, what’s your advice to young women in your country? What would you want them to understand and to embrace if they wanted to become leadership material?


Jelka:     Try to work hard and lead your desires but not forget that you are a woman, not forget that you can become a mother. And the soft part in the relationship, the feminine, accepted part of the relationship, partnership –not lead. It does not mean that the man have to clean the dishes and clean the apartment. Yes it’s okay, but in partnership it’s very important the woman let the man to be a man that he can feel and have a confidence that it’s enough for that kind of woman who want to be a judge, who want to be a prime minister for example.


Lesley:  Exactly. So, do you think there’s room for a judge, a prime minister to have the ying, the feminine in her?


Jelka:     Yes I think. But now in these days we forget, we forgot…


Lesley:  Yeah. And do you think that in time that you’ll be accepted if you allow more of that ying energy, that feminine energy?


Jelka:     Yes, because the men desire for that kind of woman, successful but the same time more sensitive.


Lesley:  So in that way, thinking about the rulings that you make as a judge, it seems to me that as you look at the young people and the elderly people that you’re seeing in your court you are bringing that quality of nurturing that quality of seeing situation for what it is, as supposed to simply the hard facts and what the law has said you must do.


Jelka:     Right. I think I did a success in this part. Yes, but this job as a judge gave me a lot of opportunity to learn how to be not too strong, how to be merciful, how to… When I decide the penalty, not to look when somebody is not sympathical, there is an objective mind here and objectivity, it’s so necessary. And I did on death part 18 years, and when I felt that it’s okay because of the people went to my courtroom gave me a hint and say “thank you” then I finish this job and go to retire.


Lesley:  So there’s something about the essence of being fair.


Jelka:     Yes, I think I learned to be fair. Yes, it’s a good expression, I think I learned to be fair, yes, it’s very important. You have a position; you have a power to make people miserable. You have law in your hands and nobody can say it’s not right, but you know in your heart that you are fair or not.


Lesley:  And so, how much of the time are you guided by your heart when you make your decision?


Jelka:     I can’t say, but the last years it takes a little less time.


Lesley:  Because you’re more clear about it.


Jelka:     Yes, I think so, yes.


Lesley:  So if you were to give any advice to women who want to become a judge, women who want to be part of the law that helps our society to become more just, what advice would you want to give them?


Jelka:     Don’t stay on the power position, look at the people and do your work with your heart not only in the position, only the names, the status but through your heart. It’s the only way you become a good judge.


Lesley:  I can’t thank you enough for sharing this time with me tonight, it’s been fantastic.


Jelka:     Thank you!


Lesley:  Thank you!


I think that Jelka has raised a number of interesting points that for many of us are lying just below the surface. She’s raising the point that if she wanted to make it very successfully in the world in which she was operating; she had to use a masculine side of herself to make that achievement happen. What she didn’t mention to you and what she did to me outside of the interview is that she lost the most important relationship in her life –her marriage—to the very fact that her yang energy, her male way of operating to get ahead in her world of jurisdictional success have made it difficult for her to find the ying energy that she needed to conduct a nourishing long term relationship. While she says equality comes with the yang energy, she gives advice to the future for women wish to lead to allow that feminine side of them to emerge. We know that in the world of duality no one force can be dominant that they are an intricacy of one another. And this is the message that Jelka left with me that if we truly understand how to interplay our feminine with our male then we have the world right in front of us. She also taught us that in the jurisdictional systems in which we operate, if we don’t get it right in the lower courts we can’t possibly get it right in terms of our social justice. And in terms of doing social justice in those lower courts we must rule with our heart as much as our head. Very wise advice from a woman who I feel has given me a gift of understanding these complexities. I hope she has done for you. Please stay tune to us next week. You can find out all things that are happening to us if you check in on the Facebook page, Women Who Lead Radio Show.

There we will be with our topics of the future as well as the comments that we want from you to tell us what you’re looking for, to tell us what you’re thinking about the shows that we’ve conducted. You can also find me on womenwholead.co. Please remember, your comments are important because this is your show, I am your host. Thanks for listening. See you next week. – Lesley Southwick-Trask

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