Žene na delu/Women at Work is a feminist organization established in Autumn 1996, in a specific political moment - at the moment when citizens' self organizing in Serbia reached its peak through citizens and students protests. This was the time of creativity, adrenalin, wild energy and faith in the power of change. During the past decade, Žene na delu have never lost that energy, we just regenerate it, building into it new experiences and knowledge.
Our goal from the beginning was very clear - to contribute to improving women's lives, primarily focusing on their economic empowerment by exploring feminist politics and methodology.
Our feminist friends dedicated to fighting violence against women, have for a long time established a clear connection between economic (in)dependence and violence. Our contribution to this fight have been interesting and creative projects aimed at showing the full potential of women's work and creativity, as well as emphasizing the importance of economic solidarity.
In time we have gained and accumulated new knowledge and skills, the work of our collective has influenced us as well -we are always growing . We have grown together in our capacity to organize through on-going reflection and exchanges, the interaction with other feminist organizations in Belgrade, Serbia, Balkans, Europe, around the world. We have made friends in different parts of the world. We communicate with women on the local Kalenic green market, but we also communicate with women across borders through Internet .
Today we are different. Our standpoints have changed and our activities and methodologies have broadened - from art to new media. However, the essential part of our politics and the essence of Žene na delu has remained the same - we are still those feminists who believe in the strength of women, in solidarity, and the power of a small group of people to make changes in society.
Our approach to life is based on the profound faith that a different and better world for all is possible, but our way is not the safe path, but the path of challenges, questioning, self critique and constantly learning with a full awareness of the social injustices that surround us.
This relatively vague term, such is “empowerment” hides the action that makes the difference between the change and the feeling that change is not possible, between doing and accepting the status quo. Feminist principles include mutual empowerment, but permanent empowerment of other women and girls, so that together we can all recognize our own potentials, validate our work and ideas in a clear way, and make those steps that lead to a change for the better.
All of Žene na delu projects have this aim – to strengthen women to recognize the value of their creativity, knowledge and experience. Women often forget it because society is constantly “reminding” us that we should stay passive and submissive. But women have incredible potentials, which, in the first place, they need to discover these in themselves and to use them.
That moment when we admit to ourselves that we know what we want and that we can, is the moment hidden in the term empowerment. From that moment on, reality changes and becomes the field of wide possibilities and choices.
Handy Women – training program for women program in basic home repairs. From 1998. to 2003, Žene na delu organized courses in electricity repairs, plumbing, carpentry and car mechanic that aimed to offer practical skills to women on one hand, but on the other to demystify the field of "traditionally male" professions.
WoodWorking Workshop – small carpentry workshop where women had the opportunity to gain practical skills related to carpentry and organize production of office supplies items, small pieces of furniture etc.
The possibility to choose is one of the key issues in defining freedom for each one of us, and without access to relevant information, that possibility becomes an extremely narrow space. When we speak about feminist methodology, the exchange of experiences and knowledge is an essential tool in our work.
We have often seen situations when women could not find the solution for their problems due to the lack of relevant information and we have realized that information HAS TO BE accessible to all women.
Fifty years ago, within the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the right to communication was recognized as one of the fundamental rights. However, we have to make sure that communication is not a one way street, but that it includes women as equal partners and contributors to society - especially having in mind that for centuries, the only space left for women was the "private sphere", an invisible domain separated from the public eye, a domain of limited information.
Today, our situation is different. Women have won the right to participate in the public sphere to a certain extent, but not fully, and that struggle is still going on. And in the endless space of information nowadays, there are only very few of these that women have created and generated for other women, that address women's issues in an accurate manner, that help us make our choices.
Znd/Women at Work believe that information is alive and that it wants to be free and accessible. Therefore, we produce it, distribute it and liberate it.
Newsletter/Magazin Ž – In 1998. Žene na delu began publishing a newsletter promoting the wide range of women's initiatives - from activism, through political and cultural, with the primary focus being economic empowerment. We have published 36 issues so far with a print run of 5000 copies that is widely distributed.
ICT program/ Program for the promotion of Information-Communication Technologies as a strategic tool for activism – Activities within this program include conducting researches, organizing seminars and trainings that aim to provide the necessary skills for women activists to effectively use ICTs. Within this program, we also promote the use of free software.
Women are making alliances in order to mutually support each other, strengthen their own capacities, but also to promote their ideas, and put them into action.
Women are forming networks to improve their own realities, but also the capacities of their organizations, with the intentions to make positive changes in women’s conditions in the society. Women’s networks are based on cooperation, common needs, similar goals and ways of functioning, specific questions on which they base their programs and feminist
Networks created and built by women are providing the platform for exchange, creating specific spaces for open discussions about their joint work – usually about obstacles that we face, but also our steps in activist engagement. Networks are places of learning and cogitation for other women.
Networks are always dynamic places where women initially bring their ideas, which later become concrete work.
Since the first days of our activism, Znd/Women at Work can be found on various maps of women’s initiatives, linking their visions and actions with other women, locally and internationally. Recognizable. Insisting on communication and visibility. On activist maps, Znd/Women at Work is visible in their neighborhood, local book stores, by the hundreds of women advertising their work, women’s groups – small and big, here in our office near Kalenic green market, but also in cities like Ljubljana , Skopje, Novi Sad, San Fransisco, Brussels, Paris, Berlin or villages like Seleus…or seen out there somewhere in the irresistible cyber spaces…
Once networking, allied, you always have a feeling of togetherness.
16 Days of Activism Against Violence Against Women – annual campaign raising awareness on the issue of violence against women, traditionally organized by Autonomous Women's Center. Žene na delu ‘s annual contribution is creating and producing a public performance that travels to many towns in Serbia during the 16 days of the campaign.
Initiative Against Misogyny in Media - a campaign that mobilizes women's organizations in Serbia to fight legally and publicly the hate speech in a popular program of the one of the most commercial television networks in this region.
WITT /Women's Information Technology Transfer/ - European network of women's organizations dedicated to the promotion of Information-Communication Technologies as a strategic tool for activism. Žene na delu are the focal point of WITT in Serbia.
Magdalena – international network of women in contemporary theatre. Thanks to this network, Žene na delu have established fruitful cooperation with experienced women artists within the project Women's Movement - Women's Theatre - Women's Body.
Slobodnakultura.org - meta organization Freeculture.org, a collective gathering different organizations and individuals whose fields of interest and work spreads from law, visual arts, music, free knowledge, gender and politics of identity, science fiction, politics to free software.
The common denominator for all is the desire that in our given social context to develop, define and promote the idea of free culture.
[ACT Women – The Feminist Theatre]
The basic concept that we would like to promote in our work is establishing a non hierarchical theatre where every individual has full responsibility and equal participation in every aspect of performance production. The classical theatre relationships text/performance, director/actresses do not exist, members of the theatre create performances around their experiences. The rehearsals follow the spirit of the third theatre – training, materials based on personal experiences, and education through exploration of various feminist concepts relevant for the current work.
In the initial phases of the work, the Feminist theatre had support from numerous feminist organizations, especially Association for Women's Initiative, but Center for culture Stari Grad as well.
During the first years, we have gained very important experiences through the work with Dah Theatre (Dijana Milošević, Maja Mitić, Sanja Krsmanović-Tasić), Om Theatre, Blue Theatre, Jill Greenhalgh, Ana Woolf (Magdalena network), Birgitte Grimstad, Elena Panaiotova, Sonja Kuftinec, Hisako Horikawa, Antonella Diana, Tina Nielsen (Odin theatre).
500 people have passed through the program of theatre workshops “Places”
More than 3000 people have seen the performances of ACT Women.
Žene na delu believe deeply in cooperation as one of the basic principles of activist work. During the years, we have been happy and proud to cooperate with numerous activists and organizations in Belgrade, Serbia, Balkans, and world wide as well.
We would like to use this opportunity to express our gratitude to all feminist activists for their courage, dedication and strength, and for being our everlasting inspiration.
We would like to thank all feminist and women's organizations in Serbia, our sisters in the amazing struggle to change the world for women today, not forgetting those before us and those who will come after us.
We owe a special gratitude to our sister organizations that have supported the work of Žene na delu since the very beginning. We thank Women in Black, where we gathered for the first time and whose courageous activities are examples of feminist anti-militarist struggle for a different world. We thank the Autonomous Women's Center from Belgrade, that generously opened their space to our activities in the first years of our work and whose activists we sincerely admire for their persistent efforts in fighting violence against women. We are grateful to the Association for Women's Initiative – our sisters in strife for creating a better economic position for women and a socially just world.
We are immensely grateful to all our associates in the past ten years, whose dedication, ideas, and knowledge contributed to what Žene na delu are today, and who passionately participated in all our activities.
We would also like to thank all donors who believe in our work and supported our efforts to make women's issues more visible in our societies. We are especially grateful to the Swedish feminist organization Kvinna Till Kvinna for their invaluable feminist and financial support to Žene na delu for the past ten years.