WOMEN RECOLLECTING MEMORIES: GENDER DIMENSION
With the inception of the wars in former Yugoslavia, women victims of war rapes became incarnated symbols and national metaphors: Raped Bosnian woman (Croat woman, Albanian woman, Serb woman…) symbolized the “raped” Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo… At the same time, the media started presenting images of sexy young women in military uniforms. Women were constructed as symbols on whose bodies all nationalisms of the region inscribed their state-funding projects and their “thousand years old dreams”. Individual women and feminist groups that did not conform to state orchestrated nationalism were declared traitors and un-feminine.
Women were the victims of ethnic conflicts, but women also played an active role in resisting to war and nationalisms. Immediately after the wars stopped, women’s suffering and sexual war violence upon them disappeared from public memory. Although peace is valued today, women’s resistance to armed conflicts and nationalisms has been erased from collective memory.
Women’s project of reconstructing memories starts from the premise that dealing with the past and memories strongly influences the processes of transitional justice, facing the past, reconciliation, seeking the truth and, inasmuch, creating conditions for stability, democratic development and lasting peace in the region. This cannot be achieved without active participation of women. If for no other reasons, then because women and women’s groups are the bearers of memories about continuous peace building activities.