BeFem 2013 edition

BeFem – the yearly feminist festival in Belgrade!
BeFem – where you meet the coolest crowd of Balkan feminists!

BeFem – where else in the region could you attend a lesbian talk show or a feminist poetry slam performance?

BeFem – where activism against patriarchy is nurtured.
BeFem – the place that welcomed the performance “Internally Displaced” about war rapes in Kosovo.

BeFem – my first experience of Qeer Salsa dancing and activist knitting!
BeFem – so cool, refreshing, inspiring and empowering!
Befem 2014 – I’m telling you – be there or be square!

Check it out yourself at Facebook!

Text and photos: Lina Andéer/Kvinna till Kvinna

The Green Mountain

“Gendering the Egyptian Revolution” was not an easy subject to talk about. We had to tell the stories of women who fought before the revolution, who paved the way to things to happen” Doa Abdelaal Mohamed Mostafa. Photo: CURE

When I first got the invitation from Marija to attend PitchWise 2013 in Sarajevo I sat for 10 minutes starring at my screen. I had millions of thoughts in my head, which included of course issuing the visa, taking days off from work, but what topped my thoughts was how come I still feel this pain when I hear or read the name of the city.

Back in the 1990’s when I was an undergraduate student in Cairo University, the war in what is known then as Yugoslavia was one of the preferable topics for our professors to discuss. I remembered the endless discussions, the papers and the exams but mostly the pain.

What we were discussing was WAR, people dying, tortured and raped. The fear that thousands of women lived in and faced was scary for me. In a war, you are a killing machine or a victim nothing in between and either this or that you seize to be a human and your instinct to survive suppress any other feelings.

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“The future is bright – full of challenges, but bright”

I’m in Brussels for a conference called Peace for all Afghans? organised by the European Network of NGOs in Afghanistan, Crisis Management Initiative, Heinrich Böll Stiftung and the Agency Coordination Body for Afghan Relief in cooperation with MEP Thijs Berman.

The question mark in the name of the conference symbolizes both the lack of peace and security on the ground for most Afghans and the doubt whether the current peace process is creating a peace for all. A sustainable peace, a peace for all, requires an inclusive and credible peace process in which a multitude of groups in society participate. This was stressed by Andris Piebalgs, European Commissioner for Development, in his keynote speech. Piebalgs pointed out six areas that are crucial for security and development in Afghanistan – a credible peace process, a peaceful transfer of power during next year’s presidential elections, an urgent need to secure jobs, a need for transparency and fight against corruption, a need to secure justice and the rule of law and the necessity to safeguard human rights, and in particular women’s rights.  Let’s hope that this analysis is reflected in EU’s efforts in Afghanistan ahead.

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ZANOSS – 8th of March Conference in MontenegroDemonstration 8th of March in Montenegro

Fourth year in a row, ANIMA – Centre for Women’s and Peace Education from Kotor organizes 8th of the March conference with support of Kvinna till Kvinna.

The aim, was four years ago and still is, to empower Women Movement in Montenegro and raise some important issues such as affirmation the 8th of March as political holiday, increase visibility of women’s activism and political influence and define common platform for actions.

Although Montenegro is in accession process to EU, situation in very difficult for all. Montenegro society lacks in freedom of speech, security for journalist and activists, transparency and serious efforts to deal with corruptions still. Processes of the peace building and facing the past are insufficient and too slow. Some off the consequences – women are still being excluded and marginalized, discriminated in many levels. Conference gathers those women who are invisible for political and social elites, whose demands, related to achieving their rights, are not being respected.

Participants were: activists- from women NGOs, Roma women, disable women, women from rural areas, single mothers, refugees, strikers, independent intellectuals, journalists, representatives of international organizations and Gender Equality Mechanisms.

This year conference is named as ZANOSS[1] – (znanje, akcija, nenasilje, odgovornost, saosjećanje, sloboda – knowledge, action, nonviolence, responsibility, empathy, freedom) as values affirmed by.

In these three days they speak about continuity of women`s resistance and rights, role of knowledge and education in Women`s Movement and its effects, CEDAW Shadow report presented last year in Geneva and related future common actions in local communities.

During the conference they organizes street march asking people to “take responsibilities – get involve” to think, to criticize society form the perspective of everyday life, to open free space for the debate. They raise the question of the responsibility of the politicians and government for the unemployment and poverty, which has largely increased during the transition period. They raise the question of facing the past and peace building in Montenegro society.

After the steer action, on of the participant, activist form Bjelo Polje, said: “This is third year for me to participate on 8th of the March conference. First year I was so afraid, for me, my friends, but now, I’m not. I can see the difference and how this conference empowered me, us. Each year we know more about our rights, we are more organize and stronger.”


Maja Stajcic Riza Aragon

[1] ZANOS in Serbian means enthusiasm, ecstasy, exaltation