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Željko Zidarić
29th-May-2012, 04:10 PM
WomenInNetwork (http://womeninnetwork.altervista.org/102.html) - Grassroots Feminism (http://www.grassrootsfeminism.net/cms/node/181)

Creating an electronic news group

During the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, communications links across former republics and with the outside world were severed. During the war, a women’s information and documentation center, Zenska Infoteka, was established in Zagreb with the goal of helping women who had been exposed to violence and sexual assault during the fighting. Their primary aim was to overcome obstacles of communication imposed by the war, and to help local grassroots groups establish international links. The establishment of this communications network was much welcomed and many relationships were established or re-established.

One of Zenska Infoteka’s tactics involved turning international attention to the mass rapes that occurred in Bosnia and Herzegovina, by using the network to send out messages from women activists and eyewitnesses calling for international action and protests against the atrocities. In 1994, the organization created an electronic news group for women, many of whom had already been working together on peace, humanitarian and other related issues when the war started. Each month electronic conferences were held in local languages where women could discuss ideas, tactics, and experiences. At its peak in 1997, more than a thousand messages were posted. While discussion of difficult topics was limited, this communication system provided a central communication point for women’s rights activists.

Since the war ended, Zenska Infoteka has changed its approach. Now, it focuses on preservation of knowledge about women's history and women's movements in Croatia, as well as on promoting and supporting women's groups and individual women working to achieve equality. This is done through a database, a library, and publishing of books and articles related to women’s issues, such as women in war and politics, and also by organizing conferences and training seminars for women and women’s organizations.

Zenska Infoteka has been very successful in turning international attention to the atrocities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and also at providing people in the former Yugoslavia with information about the rest of the world. A great example of this was in 1995 during the United Nations General World Conference on the Status of Women held in Beijing. Normally, news of the conference would not have reached the former Yugoslavian states, but thanks to Zenska Infoteka news traveled through e-mail and the Internet to women’s groups as well as individual women, thus keeping people updated on the conference.

The case of Zenska Infoteka shows that this form of communication can be very useful during times of war, and the tactics used could perhaps be more easily implemented during times of peace in areas where communication networks are not used to their full capacity.

Zenska Infoteka
(Women's Information and Documentation Center)
Varsavska 16
10000 Zagreb
Croatia
Contact person: Koraljka Dilic
Tel.: +385 1 48 30 557
Fax: +385 1 48 30 552
E-mail: zinfo@zamir.net
Website: http://www.zinfo.hr
Zenska Infoteka, Women's Information and Documentation was the first organization of its kind to be established in Eastern Europe. Its main goal is to preserve knowledge on the women's movement in Croatia. It maintains a database on the history of the women's movement in the former Yugoslavia and in Croatia. The centre is run by five employees and five volunteers.


Collection
archives (10.000), books (2523), databanks, films (35), periodicals (670), photographs (340), posters (50), press cuttings (2450), videotapes

Subjects
politics, media, violence, medicine, education, culture, sexuality, war and peace, history, human rights

Publications
Bread and Roses / Kruh i Ruze (quarterly)

Activities
training, projects, publishing, symposia, research, conferences, seminars

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