Croatia: Mirjana Bilopavlovic

You can only change yourself and use your own example to try to influence those around you.

— Mirjana Bilopavlovic

Mirjana Bilopavlovic began her peace work in 1994, during the war in Croatia. After the war, she worked in the Center for Social Work for refugees and coordinated the activities of the Women’s Club in war-torn Pakrac. The Club encouraged women’s empowerment through awareness campaigns and community action. Since 2001, she has coordinated the biggest network of women’s organizations in Croatia. In 2002, she co-founded Delfin, an organization that provides health care and counseling to women. Throughout these activities, she has actively promoted peace, reconciliation, and tolerance.

Mirjana Bilopavlovic’s engagement as an activist, pacifist, and feminist began when a group of young people came to the Volunteer Project Pakrac through the Anti-War Campaign of Croatia in 1994. During the peace training courses, MIRamiDA and MIRamiDA PLUS, Mirjana learned how to live and work in a war-torn town, burdened with nationalistic sentiments. It was difficult to be a member of a NGO in Pakrac at that time, especially a women’s NGO. With support of young people from other countries, Mirjana and her colleagues established the Women’s Club Pakrac (WCP). She was the coordinator of the club from 1997 to 2002, therefore, responsible for almost everything: organizing the work of the association, writing project proposals, maintaining contacts with potential donors, local authorities, and other associations. This NGO was the first to publicly promote peace, reconciliation, and tolerance. When the Women’s Club Pakrac was established in 1994, its first activity was a community laundromat. It also encouraged women’s empowerment through awareness campaigns, public discussions, and community action. Soon the Club joined the Women’s Network, the biggest network of women’s organizations in Croatia, participating in and co-creating all its major campaigns, especially those related to political empowerment, reproductive health, and gender education. Since 2003, Mirjana is in charge of the SOS hotline for victims of violence, addicts, persons affected by post-trauma stress, displaced persons, and refugees. She is also a co-leader of the Advisory Center for girls, pregnant women, and mothers.

Delfin Women’s Club Pakrac (WCP)