WR1003 War and Reconstuction in the Balkans
Week 7 Gender, Nationalism and War

8. Women in Armed Groups

Only small minority of armed groups were women. They were strongly discouraged from front line service and channelled into administrative and medical back up roles.
They included Serb, Croat and Bosnian Muslim women.

Some women returned from abroad to fight.
Davorka Svalina, 21, was on front line in Dubrovnik - ‘I could not stand it, to simply watch as my classmates risked their lives for our freedom. I knew that I could shoot. Anyone can do that. My training came from hatred. There is only one thing I know for certain. I will never again be as important as I am right now.’
Cited in Women at the Front (1994) World Press Review, 41/3

Korac also points out that women who participate in national chauvinism get sense of empowerment even though they have secondary role.
'Further, women who have gone to the front have rapidly been converted into mythical figures confirming that women enter history only when they take on masculine roles.'
Korac, M. (1996) "Understanding Ethnic-National Identity and Its Meaning: Questions from Women's Experience." Women's Studies International Forum 19 pp. 133-143.

Lilly & Irvine say that Croatian press gave very little coverage to women fighters - Serb press gave a lot.
In 1994 more women than men expressed nationalist feelings in Serbia but the reverse was true in Croatia
Lilly C. & Irvine J. (2002) 'Negotiating Interests: Women and Nationalism in Serbia and Croatia, 1990-1997' East European Politics & Societies, 16/1

Batinic says that Croatian women’s groups divided into those who believed that the interests of Croatian women overlapped with the interests of their new nation-state, and another that still clearly opposed nationalism and Croatian politics. Former branch identified themselves as a part of 'victimized Croatia.' They also drew an analogy between 'woman as victim' and 'nation as victim'.
Batinic, J (2001) ‘Feminism, nationalism, and war: the 'Yugoslav case' in feminist texts’ Journal of International Women's Studies, 3/1 pp. 2 – 24.

1. Introduction / 2. Context / 3. Chronology / 4. Women as Symbols / 5. Women as Reproducers / 6. Women as Keepers of the Home / 7. Limited Autonomy / 8. Women in Armed Groups / 9. Women Civilians / 10. Women's Bodies as Territory / 11. Militarization of Society / 12. Reading

URL: http://pers-www.wlv.ac.uk/~le1810/wr1003a.htm
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