Announcement of Women’s Organizations and Women’s Rights Activists from BiH March 8th, 2018 – International Women’s Day

Announcement of Women’s Organizations and Women’s Rights Activists from BiH March 8th, 2018 – International Women’s Day

Announcement of Women’s Organizations and Women’s Rights Activists from BiH March 8th, 2018 – International Women’s Day – We do not want the crumbs you offer us!!

Dear girls and women of all ages,

After more than half a century since we have the right to vote, our voice is still not heard.

Girls and women of all ages are still invisible as a category of the Bosnian and Herzegovinian society.

Our voice and the right to use it accordance to our conscience and in accordance with our convictions is only one statistical figure in the division of the mandate of power in which we do not participate.

In numbers, women make more than 50% of the total population in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and we are still not in the places where decisions are made. We are not in the constitutional reforms, in the Reform Agenda we are still non-existent, in the division of power we are invisible, and not included in programs and policies.

We are left with the responsibility of procreation and the burden of a negative birth rate, while the society ignores the fact that we are being fired from jobs when we say we are planning to have a family, we cannot even speak about the system of social support like kindergartens and nurseries in every local community – because for God’s sake, what will we do all day long if we do not take care of children, the old and weak, clean, wash, iron, and wait while someone drives us from one place to the other, because why would we need public transport, and we cannot go to a dignified retirement because the contributions to our salaries are not paid. We better not get sick because we do not have anywhere to go nor anyone to examine us; we have to take care of court rulings regarding child support instead of those who are obliged to pay them, and if they kill us because we think with our head or because we resist violence – we do not even become a statistical case.

Our roles as mothers, a heroines of the nation, a followers and a martyrs are glorified, and yet every time we give our opinion, our years, wrinkles, skirts and neckline lengths, lovers, marriages are counted, and they send special police forces when we protect our rivers and the right to drink clean water.

If we cannot be mothers, for any reason, even if we do not want to become mothers, we are not women enough, or we are grumpy, masculine, and so ugly that nobody wants us. We are always burdened with everything that does not function in this society, and when we want and can make a statement, we are not invited to participate in discussions or simply cannot approach the speaking platform.

If we belong to a socially marginalized category, if we are women with disability, if we are mothers of children with disabilities, if we are independent parents, if we are lesbians, bisexual or trans women, if we are Roma women, if we are from a rural area or if we are survivors of violence, if we entered the honorable third age – if we are not what we should be – the proud mothers of the nation or the women who smile on the laundry detergent commercials – we are not welcomed anywhere.

We are good and obedient when we bend our heads and accept crumbs from the dividing power table, driving us out of Bosnia and Herzegovina when we dare to ask for our rights.

Dear girls and women, we are sorry – but on this 8th of March we do not have a single word of encouragement to share between ourselves.

We do not know what word of comfort to give to women of the third age when they ask us with fear what will happen to them, we do not know what to say to mothers when they ask us if they have the right to have at least minimum financial support, we do not know what to say to mothers of children with disabilities when they ask why their children cannot go to school and why they have to leave their jobs and education because society does not have any understanding or support for them, we are afraid to have coffee with our friends who live in heavily polluted areas because today drinkable water is a luxury, and our friends from smaller local communities and from remote areas of BiH can only dream about libraries, theaters and many other things common for the 21st century like regular medical care … What to say to survivors of violence when we know that the small number of Safe Houses barely make it, that there are no employment programs for socially marginalized women, that …. often life depends on the mercy of other citizens?

And what to say to young women who are packing and leaving BiH in search of a better life, going somewhere where they can live from their work, in order to help those who they leave behind, what to say to mothers whose former partners do not pay for the support of their children because they think they punish the mothers by not paying, and do not worry if their children have nothing to eat? What can we say to our daughters, our girls? How to encourage our sisters, our mothers?

Some would say, it is good, at least there is no war. But all of our stitches are breaking because of all the war oriented politics, hypocrisy of political elites, poverty and social political marginalization.

Dear girls and women of all ages, let this 8th of March encourage you to not accept crumbs, to stand up and raise the voice against all those who consider us as objects and who will stand in the way of realizing our rights.

Long live March the 8th.