When it comes to gender equality, the consequences of the dissolution of socialism are ambiguous at best. On one side, with the fading of the project of universal emancipation politics based on highlighting injustices incurred to particular elements of society became much more prominent. In this context, at least at the highest official levels, the discourse of ‘women rights’, of equal representation of women, became much more vocal. One should not, however, to trust a society’s narrative of itself. Declarations of gender equality and of the fight against obvious forms of discrimination cannot decisively interfere with the underlying structural changes in the economy; phenomena that accompanied the transition to capitalist economy, such as the erosion of systems of public services, increasing inequalities and unemployment, were not gender neutral.
The purpose of the panel is therefore to trace the actual transformation of the situation of women throughout the experience of socialism and its transition to capitalism in (ex) Yugoslavia. In this way, the panel will attempt to bring the politics of gender and class in a productive relation.
Andrea Jovanović – The Yugoslav Antifascist Front of Women (AFŽ): Legacy, Lessons and Some Insights
In this paper, I will give a short historical overview of the actions of AFŽ, particularly during the post-WWII period. I will focus on AFŽ’s interventions in the role of women in society, the extent to which the Front was successful and the impact it had on the women’s question after it was dissolved. I will try to explain why and how the AFŽ legacy disappeared in the post-socialist period. In conclusion, I will emphasise the importance of connecting today’s women’s struggles in the Balkans to those from the past.
Dora Levačić – The Economic Position of Women in ex-Yugoslav Countries
In my paper, I will present some data on economic inequality and the labour-force structure in several ex-Yugoslav countries, with an emphasis on gender inequality. Phenomena such as pay differentials, sex segregation of the labour market and high risks of poverty among women will be discussed alongside a brief overview of welfare regime changes in these countries and their detrimental impact on the status of women as workers and caregivers. In addition, some of the main ideological obstacles for (re)connecting issues of gender and class inequality will be examined, ranging from international ‘women-friendly’ policies to popular psychology.
Dora Levačić is a postgraduate student of Sociology at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb and a member of the Organization for Workers’ Initiative and Democratization. She is currently doing research on precarious work and social inequality in post-socialist countries.