For peace today, let us recall Yugoslav feminist solidarity in times of war


One of the first events that took place at the start of the war was the disintegration of the women’s movement along nationalist, male-defined borders.

As such, the first National Feminist Conference of Yugoslavia was held in Ljubljana in 1987, passing a resolution that women would not recognize artificial male boundaries, that they were united in brotherhood, and that their common experiences in as long as women took precedence over male territorial concerns. rights. The resolution was severely challenged by the conflicts that arose during the breakup of Yugoslavia.

In terms of peace activism during the breakup of Yugoslavia, feminists were the first to reject the Milosevic regime and organize public demonstrations in the name of solidarity. The Women for Peace Coalition was made up of the Kosovo Women’s Network, the Women in Black Network and groups from Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia, Italy, Spain, Israel and others.

The Women in Black Network emerged as an activist network in 1991. Between 1997 and 1999, its activists protested against the war in Kosovo and the apartheid to which the ethnic Albanian population was subjected, expressing their solidarity with non-Kosovo movements. violence and women in Kosovo. . In this regard, Women in Black has played a remarkable role in breaking through the political silence and denial of Serbian state aggression in the region. He fought against national identity restrictions of the nation-state in Serbia.

In this context, during the wars of the collapse of Yugoslavia, the opponents of nationalism ensured that their voice was not only heard but also important.

If war tends to reduce the space for free debate, it also promotes resilience. In other words, fighting denial and breaking the silence seems to have been the central challenge for many anti-war groups during the breakup of Yugoslavia.

Feminist activists of this period had a deep understanding of the identity politics of cross-border solidarity and a critical stance not only towards patriarchy but also towards the state and the nation.

Serbian women who fought for the rights of women, refugees and national minorities – specifically women who put their gender identity ahead of their national identity – were branded as traitors to the Serbian nation.

The coalition between feminist activists from Kosovo and Serbia during the break-up of Yugoslavia was important since they chose to develop a peaceful network between peoples divided by borders, memories and symbols.

Serbia’s women in black protested in public under the banner “Not in our name”. Through regional communication and cooperation, feminist activists across the former Yugoslavia challenged the narrative of ethnic hatred by developing and strengthening solidarity. Their tale of activism, cooperation and experience of war offers an alternative perspective not only on the historical events of the 1990s in the former Yugoslavia, but also for a better future.

Yet the regional anti-war solidarity of women during the breakup of Yugoslavia has faded from the collective memory of each society.

Looking back, to build a better future


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