Serbien: Stanislavka Zajovic

Peace is the ability to create space for listening to the stories of the many who are embittered and even hateful.

— Stanislavka Zajovic

Even before the war, Stanislavka Zajovic was actively involved in the first feminist initiatives in former Yugoslavia. When war broke out, Stanislavka, together with others, founded Women in Black (inspired by the Women in Black of Israel and Palestine). From October 1991 until the war ended, Women in Black organized weekly peace demonstrations in Belgrade and across Serbia and Montenegro: in silence and dressed in black, they condemned the war and crimes committed falsely in the name of the interests of the Serbian nation. Thus, one of their key slogans became and remained: Not in Our Name!

Stanislavka (Stasa) Zajovic, born in former Yugoslavia in 1953, holds a degree in Romance languages from the University of Belgrade and is fluent in Spanish, Italian, and English. A civil rights activist since her student days, she has organized feminist and peace workshops, anti-war demonstrations, campaigns for conscientious objection, and programs in refugee centers, contributing also to publications on feminism, militarism and anti-militarism, nationalism, and fundamentalism. In 1991, she helped establish Women in Black in former Yugoslavia and founded the Women’s Peace Network against War. Stasa’s fundamental motives are moral: the responsibility for war and crimes committed “in our name,” and solidarity with those in Serbia and around the world for the promotion of nonviolence, peace, and civil society. Her energy comes from those who feel powerless, but transform anger into action; those who strive to show that nonviolent action is the only way to peace; and those who know that a passive attitude is participation in crime, especially crime committed in our name. Stasa imagines a world without military, without hunger, violence, or structural injustice – a different but possible world. She knows that realizing this requires the long-term participation of millions of women and men, and that the reality of Serbia seems particularly hopeless; characterized by xenophobia, intolerance, and social misery. International solidarity, founded on the principles of peace and justice, gives hope. Stasa uses “spiritual demilitarization” to refer to the kind of transformation that re-establishes disrupted threads through dialogue, to overcome the futile logic of victory for one side over another. Stasa uses this idea to guide her peace politics, her vision of solidarity, and the particular kind of anti-militaristic activity of Women in Black.

Women in Black Women’s Peace Network against War