Stanislavka Zajovic – Serbia and (now independent) Montenegro

Linked to our presentation of Women in Black, and of March across the Nullarbor, and of WLUML – A Different Kind Of Power Is Possible.

She is one of the 1000 women proposed fort the Nobel Peace Price 2005.

She says: “Peace is the ability to create space for listening to the stories of the many who are embittered and even hateful.”

Stanislavka Zajovic – Serbia and (now independent) Montenegro

She works for the Women in Black; and for the Women’s Peace Network against War.

Even before the war, Stanislavka Zajovic was actively involved in the first feminist initiatives in former Yugoslavia. When war broke out, Stanislavka, together with others, founded Women in Black (inspired by the Women in Black of Israel and Palestine). From October 1991 until the war ended, Women in Black organized weekly peace demonstrations in Belgrade and across Serbia and Montenegro: in silence and dressed in black, they condemned the war and crimes committed falsely in the name of the interests of the Serbian nation.

Thus, one of their key slogans became and remained: Not in Our Name!Stanislavka Zajovic, “Stasa,” born in 1953 in former Yugoslavia, holds a degree in Romance languages from the University of Belgrade and is fluent in Spanish, Italian and English. She has been a civil rights activist since her student days, organizing feminist and peace workshops, staging regular anti-war demonstrations, campaigning for conscientious objection, running programs in refugee centers and contributing to numerous publications on topics of feminism, militarism and antimilitarism, nationalism, and fundamentalism.

In 1985, Stasa joined the feminist group Woman and Society and helped found the SOS hotline for women and children who are victims of violence. In Belgrade she has been involved in the Belgrade Women’s Lobby, the Women’s Parliament, the Civic Resistance Movement, and as an activist with the Center for Anti-War Action. In 1991 she helped establish Women in Black in former Yugoslavia and founded the Women’s Peace Network against War.
On 9 October 1991, Women in Black in Belgrade began a permanent, weekly, public, nonviolent demonstration against war, against the nationalistic and militant regime in Serbia, and against ethnic cleansing and all forms of discrimination. Their work has been successful in organizing and reaching out to women from all sides of the conflicts, regardless of their ethnicity, religion, or political and educational background.
Women in Black is a key network in the region; it extends throughout Serbia and Montenegro and collaborates closely with organizations in neighboring countries, in particular those with a common history of resistance to war and war leaders. As Women in Black coordinator in Belgrade, Stasa has organized and participated in hundreds of anti-militarism, peace and feminist demonstrations, performances, and gatherings. She has offered support to war deserters and conscientious objectors through the Network of Conscientious Objectors in Serbia and Montenegro, which she helped found; has published supplements on conscientious objection in the magazine Prigovor (Objection); helped organize eleven conferences for the International Network of Women’s Solidarity against War; and has organized different educational initiatives.

One of Stasa’s particular interests is publishing, creating an alternative her-story that writes otherness and difference into history. Since 1993, Stasa has edited ten compilations of the Women in Black collection Women for Peace and has worked as one of the translators for the Italian and Spanish editions. She has also written numerous essays and articles for local, regional and international media on topics including women and politics, war, and nationalism.

Other organizations of which she is a member include the Advisory Group of Unifem and the International Interim Board of the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights, based in Amsterdam. These groups, along with Women in Black, face the constant problems of hate, dramatic social injustice, inequality, the feminization of poverty, organized crime, and the connection of the war mafia with the current Government. One of their ultimate goals is to help people to gain autonomy over their own lives. The current “peace” in Serbia only means an absence of war; it does not acknowledge the apathy, hopelessness, and the difficult processes of transition and privatization that have limited the growth of a strong civil society and a culture of peace.
Stasa continues to fight relentlessly against the current circumstances both within Serbia and on a larger scale. Due in great part to her dedication, Women in Black has achieved recognition on the international level: in March 2001, the international movement of Women in Black was awarded the Unifem Millennium Peace Prize.

Stasa imagines a world without military, hunger, violence and structural injustice – in short, a different, but possible world. Realizing this dream, she knows, requires the long-lasting participation of millions of women and men committed to the well-being of humanity. The reality of Serbia seems particularly hopeless, characterized by the growth of xenophobia, intolerance, and social misery, and without conscientious citizens, the country is surely condemned to fall. International solidarity, however, founded on the principles of peace and justice, gives hope that the world may become better. Stasa uses the term “spiritual demilitarization” to refer to the kind of transformation that re-establishes disrupted threads through dialogue to overcome the futile logic of victory for one side over another. Stasa uses this idea to guide her peace politics, her vision of solidarity, and the particular kind of antimilitarism activity of Women in Black. (Read this on this page of 1000peaceewomen).

links:

wikipedia in Serbian;

unece.org;

pacedifesa.org;

Amnesty International;

k.mihalec.tripod.com.;

a spanish site.

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