The Power of Global Networks - Blog Series

Click on the location markers below to read posts from women's funds around the world.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Trust, Dialogue, Tolerance and Solidarity – Get Networking!

When you get involved in engaged/activist/political theater at eighteen years of age you learn about the ideas and commitments of the feminist movement, and then many things begin changing for you on a personal level. You become part of a societal group which fights and strives for advancement and a change of life in a country, especially focused on women’s human rights.

My first encounter with the peace movement took place in 1991 on the Republic Square (Belgrade) when the brave Women in Black demanded that the state stop the wars on the territories of former Yugoslavia. That mute installation of women’s bodies dressed in black, in silence, had woken up a sense of revolt in me. In time I learned about the Women in Black network and about the strength of networking, communication, action and reaction. An especially important result of my learning about their work is the deconstruction of patriarchy, militarism, power and control. All of this breaks the matrix of behavior, conduct, development, maturating, of value systems. Women set new codes of conduct and of education, which of course is frightening to men.

During the nineties, and at the start out of 2000, Serbia was ripe with nationalism, in isolation, under sanctions, and this was a particularly difficult period for all people. Wars were taking place in the neighboring countries of ex-Yu, violence was escalating and many people lived day in and out in fear for their lives. At the Autonomous Women’s Center activists phoned day and night to women in Albania, Bosnia and Croatia – so that we would know how they were. Of course, people in our immediate surroundings, and even those closest to us, considered this an act of betrayal, but we were encouraged anyway that we were on the right path due to the strength of connecting with other women, solidarity and support. The right path being able to hear the Other. For me the essence of work and of development of a society is through a network of women who are fighting against violence, discrimination, all types of repression and terror, for a change in the value system, relations in society and for the freedom of movement and expression. 

If you live in a closed off and repressive society sometimes it seems that there are no borders outside of your country. The only borders and territories are the feminist spaces, where women understand one another. I met Marta Drury, a philanthropist, activist and friend in Labris, a lesbian rights group. The support which many women in Serbia, and neighboring countries, got from the Amazon Marta, showed me a new dimension of networking. At Marta’s invitation several activists from the ex-Yu had the opportunity to take part in the Creating Changes( )  conference. I was amazed by the number of people who attended this USA national conference. People were connecting and respecting each other with such passion, love and open communication. For me this was an eye opening experiencee – to meet queer, transsexual, intersex people, radical lesbians, all possible diversities - changes your frame of mind and your perception.

My greatest love is theater. The Magdalena Network is one of the largest women’s networks in contemporary theater. Ten years ago I went to Denmark for the first time for the Transit Festival. This was like magic: theater artist, actresses, masters all in one place. Theater techniques, shows, lectures and presentations were all exchanged and shared. There were 200 women from around the world: Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Russia, Czech Republic, Germany, USA, Mexico, Columbia, Africa, Europe… the whole world! The experiences I had there cemented my belief that the power of listening to each other, sharing and exchanging, development, changes, risks, dialogue, respect, trust, solidarity can bring us individually or as networks to new knowledge that on various sides of this globe there are women who are also fighting for a better future and a different world – a world without violence. That we are never really alone and can get support, encouragement and practical ideas from each other.   

Zoe Gudovic, PR Manager
Women's Funding Network member since 2005

No comments:

Post a Comment