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THIRD ROUND TABLE ON THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN THE WWI HELD IN BELGRADE

02.07.2014

The third round table of the "Share your knowledge - become a mentor 2013/2014" Program, on topic "Women in the First World War", was held on June 28th 2014.


Ms. Ana Stolić, Research Associate of the Institute of History, Ms. Jasmina Milanović, Research Associate Institute of Institute for Contemporary History, Ms. Dragana Spasojević, curator of Museum of contemporary art, Ms. Slađana Zarić, program editor of RTS and Ms. Milena Dragićević-Šešić, Professor of Faculty of Dramatic Arts, spoke in the panel moderated by Ms. Svetlana Stefanović, Program Manager of the European Movement in Serbia.


In a very inspiring and above all, detailed presentation, the panelists emphasized the importance of the role that women played in the Great War.


The lack of historical materials and artifacts from this period is one of the biggest obstacles in the study of the topic.


Ms. Jasmina Milanović gave an overview of women's associations that have been very active during the War, namely the Belgrade Women's Association, Women Workers' Schools and, as one of most famous to our public, Circle of Serbian Sisters. Special attention was given to famous women who through their tireless charity work had done a lot for the Serbian people and the army. The role of women's associations was crucial not only for the recovery of the Serbian army and wounded, but to survival of the people under Austrian occupation.


Ms. Ana Stolić brought up the issue of gender roles in the war, perception of women's role in it. Biological nursing capacity

 of women limited women on the battlefield, not only in Serbia, but in whole of Europe at the time. This was exactly the time when self-perception started changing and women strength during the hardest of times became known. Women had been the one to carry the burden of hardship and tragedy of the war, but managed to keep the society and national consciousness during the occupation.


Ms. Dragana Spasojević concluded that emancipation of Serbian, but also European women during the war was enforced, because in the absence of men, they had to perform their duties. She added that emancipation was temporarily as well, because Europe went back to its traditional patriarchal lifestyle soon after the War, hence, the exhibition "Female Face of the Great War" tried to refer to different roles that women have taken during the war.


The author of the documentary about Milunka Savić, Ms. Slađana Zarić, reminded the gathering of the role of female fightersat the front. At that time female soldiers, besides Serbia, had only Russia; however some have been mentioned in Poland and one in Romania. This nevertheless does not prove the emancipation of women, but the it had been a consequence of a lack of manpower after losses during the Balkan Wars.


Ms. Milena Dragićević-Šešić elaborated issue of memory of the women from that period through the presentation of her research. The conclusions are that there is a symptomatic male narrative the family memory; that the roles of women were forgotten; and that the women disappeared not only from the collective, but also from the family memory.


The documentary film "Milunka Savic - Heroine of the Great War", made in the production of the Radio Television of Serbia was screened during the second part of the Round Table.


After a very interesting discussion in which participants had the opportunity to pose questions, a general impression was that the great responsibility as well as shame falls upon the society for having forgotten those who held this country together during one of the worst periods in its history. Therefore, it is essential to constantly revive the memories of women heroines trough history books and activities of educational and cultural institutions, and not just in marking of anniversaries.

 


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