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2007 | 19 | 7-24

Article title

Building a Civil Society from the Gender Perspective - A Case Study of the former Yugoslavia


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In the year 1991, when the war in former Yugoslavia began, public attention in most Western Europe was focused on the fighting between the regular and irregular army forces and on the strong nationalistic rhetoric of the political elites. For a time, public awareness was also focused on women war victims in the Bosnian War, but little was known about the strong, country-wide movement of women's groups against nationalism and war. The emergence of these non-violent women's groups is a key factor in building a civil society because this process requires a new type of social relations which emerge on the basis of interaction between individual‘s private interests and their public interest as citizens. Even though most of the women activists grew up in socialist Yugoslavia under its particular version of totalitarianism, they became politically active as a way out of the circle of victimization and oppression. 'Being active. Being emancipated' - this slogan of a women's/human rights group in Zagreb may be used as key element in mobilizing women and it refers to the concept of citizens speaking and acting in concert in the space of their appearance. Living out in practice the notions of tolerance, of differences and of plurality, these women activists played a key role in the transition period and they demonstrate strategies and means for the processes empowerment from the grass roots - the nutrient for every democracy.


  • D. Gödl, Institute for Social Research and Development, Paracelsusstrasse 4/2, 5020 Salzburg, Austria


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