International Women’s Day was celebrated in Belgrade with a Protest march under slogans “Work, not famine – food, not weapons!” and “If women stop the whole world stops”.
Approximately two and a half thousand people gathered at 1pm on the Plateau in front of the Faculty of Philosophy, marched through Vasina and Kolarčeva streets, across Terazije and to Slavija square with a short stop at the monument of Dimitrije Tucović. The protest ended at the Centre for Cultural Decontamination, where an exhibition marking a centennial of the murder of Rosa Luxemburg was opened. Choir Naša pjesma took part in the opening.
Like in previous years, this year also women fighting “FOR peace and equality, social justice, for value and respect of female labour, who fight AGAINST exploitation, non-humane and demeaning labour conditions and the femininisation of poverty” called us to join the fight “FOR justly paid labour, health and knowledge and against arming”.
The slogans and banners describe the bad position of women in our society, the breach of labour rights, of rights to an abortion, etc., witnessing the alarming state of women’s rights.
“The mobster moms are proud workers”
One of the banners reminded of the fact that the state is denying parents the fundamental rights which social politics should guarantee. The representatives of “Mums rule” reminded repeatedly that the mothers-to-be and mothers were referred to as “mothers’ mafia” at a parliamentary session in Serbia, while the changes of the Law on the FinancialSupport of Families with Children brought harm to many parents.
The slogan “Justice for Marija Lukić” called once more to solidarity with a brave woman who had accused a local bully from the municipality of Brus for sexual harassment. Sexual violence is one of the burning issues rattling all the cages in which women are constantly mistreated, intimidated and silenced.
At the beginning of the rally the activists held one of the “purple aprons” which were used in a protest action performed a few day ago with the aim to point out to the endangering of women’s rights and to promote the March. This protest action, organised by part of the activists belonging to the organisations involved in preparing the March provoked conflicted reactions in the media, including calls for lynching.
Most of the media embarked in accusing the activists, and missed to point out the goal of the action, which has been to turn attention to the problems women face, in form of an intervention in public space. The violation of labour rights (conveyed through the message I SUPPORT WOMEN’S STRIKE), the endangering of reproductive rights (ABORTION IS A WOMEN’S RIGHT), and the contestation of women’s achievements throughout history (THE WORD SCIENCE IS GRAMATICALLY FEMININE). The action included hanging purple aprons on six monuments to men placed at the centre of Belgrade.
InternationalWomen’sDay is celebrated since the revolutionary 1917. It represents a symbol of emancipatory and continuous women’s struggle against patriarchy and capitalism, in favour of equal social, economic and political rights.
This year’s March was organized by the Women in Black Network, Women’s Studies Center Belgrade, Social Center “Oktobar”, #MameSuZakon (Mums rule) initiative, Women of Serbia initiative, the Left Summit of Serbia, Don’t drown Belgrade, the Reconstruction Women’s Fund, the Roma Women’s Network, ROZA association for women’s labour rights, the Women’s section of Independence trade union, and Women in Black Serbia.
Translation from Serbian: Iskra Krstić
This article was originally published in Serbian on Mar 8, 2019.