Foreword to the Second Edition


Women Reconstructing Memories by Vesna Kesić
While we are preparing this updated second edition of The Collected Papers of the Center for Women War Victims, the first of which was published in 1994, war is raging again in another part of the world. It is America's war against Iraq. And again we hear the news that many victims are civilians, including women and children.  
While our local wars began with almost no protest or resistance from an organized peace movement—because it didn't even exist yet in Yugoslavia and independent civil initiatives and grassroots organizations were still in their inceptions—today, millions of people across the world raise their voices against the war and significant protests take place even in the countries of the former Yugoslavia, especially in Croatia. They are organized and led mainly by women and women’s organizations. Throughout the last ten years, during which women's groups from Croatia and the region engaged in peace activism and worked to improve women's social status, gender equality and justice, we met many women from the international organizations that are now leading these anti-war protests.
Nevertheless, the cycle of violence and destruction continues. And again we are raising the impenetrable question: why do women participate in anti-war movements in such great numbers, even if they are not the most visible “leaders” within them? Do they have some special, “natural” motives against war, against killing? Do they participate because they are mothers (sisters, daughters, wives), because they “give” life and because they are more capable of compassion?
Both at the beginning of the 1990’s and today, our answer has remained yes, this could be one of the reasons and maybe the primary motivation for most women who protest on the streets of New York, Baghdad, Brasilia, Zagreb and Belgrade. It is not the only one, however, and it is not a politically oriented answer to the question of why women's and especially feminist organizations participate in peace initiatives and anti-war movements. The assumption that women are "inherently more peace-loving" confines women and reverts back to biological roles and roles within a patriarchal system. And feminism, in case anyone is still having doubts, is primarily a response to these construed women's roles that embody different forms of discrimination, injustice and inequality. And this injustice is not directed exclusively against women.
Women are against war and nationalism—this is what we were saying in 1992 when we founded a feminist organization, the Center for Women War Victims—because they are political and moral beings and because they are politically responsible, although maybe in a different way than men. In other words, feminists are against war for the same reasons that all pacifists, both women and men, object to it: because wars are inhuman, because they are irrational, because they never lead to effective political solutions, because they cause irrecoverable human and material loss, and because they are often waged for the completely unjustified and wrong reasons of one's insatiable greed for profit, demonstration of one's power or simply one's stupidity and inability to solve problems in a more intelligent and humane way.  And also because those who come up with the “solutions” that lead to wars are usually men whose power escaped the control of the societal powers, in which women are traditionally underrepresented. In 1994, we wrote: “Women did not participate in the political and military decision-making that led to the wars in the former Yugoslavia, but women and children comprised majority of the civilian casualties of these wars.” Since women have traditionally been subjected to men and the interests of men, they are—if they express their own political opinions as feminists do—more willing to accept a society without political domination and hegemony, a society characterized by greater equality and the inclusion of all, a society whose members are not economically or socially exploited or oppressed on the basis of gender.
This is how we were thinking during November 1992 when, at the culmination of war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and during an unstable truce in Croatia, we founded the Center for Women War Victims. As a principle of our work, we said that we were going to help and support women regardless of their origin, nationality, religion, or any other identifying factor...
Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Centre for Women War Victims (November, 2002), which in the meantime changed the name into The Centre for Women Rosa, we started the project or recollecting women’s memories. This publication, the conference Gender Dimension of Conflict and Reconciliation, held in Zagreb in May, 2003 and the Web page The Politics of Memory – Gender Dimension will revive the gender dimension in public memory of women’s participation in war protests and other political activity. The purpose of this project is to show that, if women are excluded from memories of the recent past, it is very easy to exclude them from contemporary social and political processes. Peace stability in the countries of the former Yugoslavia, within nations and between nations, is not possible without women's participation, if for no other reason than they carry the memories of continued peace efforts.



Foreword to the Second Edition

  Women Reconstructing Memories by Vesna Kesić

In Place Of An Introduction

  The Days of December 1992 - The Beginning Biljana Kašić

Goga M.'s Story

  Interview conducted by Dinka Koričić and Vesna Kesić in July 1993

Reaching High

  Dinka Koričić

Rachel’s Bed

Eve Ensler


  To woman's and peace organizations all over the world

Rape as a weapon


Global Tribunal


Laughter, tears and politics

  Dialogue - How Women Do It