The Social Legacy

“Every social justice movement that I know of has come out of people sitting in small groups, telling their life stories, and discovering that other people have shared similar experiences. So, if we’ve shared many experiences, then it probably has something to do with power or politics, and if we unify and act together, then we can make a change.” Gloria Steinem on Social Justice

In the old days of socialism in Bosnia, there was a term “radna akcija”, which roughly translated meant a joint action of people toward achieving a goal of shared good or a benefit for everybody. Though it is hard to explain in words what our ancestors were experiencing, more precisely what kind of principles they have embodied in their daily routines, but it is with certainty that we can tell the vivid results of these coordinated efforts of people for the well-being of the state. And in those glory days, the consciousness of every single individual from a worker on the tram lines to a administrative officer on the customs border was set up in a collective discourse, but yet very narrow in its individual shape, when discussing social rights. It is the reconstruction era of our country where everyone was invited in the building process, as much as everyone participated in the equal share, that we have found the very rooted and strong social movement that did not needed the platform to endure, because his very essential platform were people themselves.
When you have an endless working class to back up the industry, human resources to build railroads, free citizens of every age in the labor agenda who are still singing passionately the songs of freedom, then your own voice are their hands, shovels and hearts. And yet it is essential to stress that those who are getting pieces of bricks together in order to construct a monument, are those who will later enjoy every square of that shared space, knowing that part of their bones and skin were engraved in the walls.

Milja Marin, partisan, symbol of working class and socialist Yugoslavia. Photo made by Žorž Skrigin, 1943, Knežopolje

The smell of social era was still very present on the streets of the towns even during the Bosnian conflict, were because closure of borders people were destined to one another, sharing salt, breed and paper which were at those times almost precious as gold. The social spirit never left the people, even in uncertain times, and it was the social spirit that kept the people alive. Knocking on your neighbor door on a daily business for the exchange of groceries, going on the work despite the endless shelling, and smoking cigarettes in order to socialize, even if all around you the world is falling apart.

Children in occupied Sarajevo during siege, February 1993. Photo taken by Roger M. Richards

After the bloody conflict has ended, the preservation of positive social customs presented one of the hardest ventures. Keeping social agenda in the country was almost impossible, since the huge bridges between extremely rich war-profiteers, and deadly poor homeless internally displaced people were unbridgeable. Bosnia needed a long therapy of healing war trauma wounds and the reconciliation process was aimed at including various national actors in partnership with international community.

Those years were overwhelmingly hard for average post-communist individual, pushed and strangled between old values and new era of capitalism that swallowed everything old as a long black hole. In that centrifuge of transition from one system to another, majority of citizens got lost on the thorny path to rebuild their lives, earn a decent paycheck, and enable the sustainable future for their children. Social justice was only a word that was spoken in whisper, and it was a hard to hear the sound of those chatting in the midst of mind-blowing and fast economical turbulence. 
Yet, in that race, certain international factors, together with domestic enthusiastic individuals created piece by piece a very constructed puzzle of civil society organizations that were aimed of filling the gaps and the holes in the devastated Bosnian system. They were able to see far beyond what the social structure encompassed. And they were the moving factor on several successful reforms that brought back the social agenda on the discussion table in Bosnia. 
Being empowered by those might currents, and with a tremendous support from my international experience, I have decided to pioneer in the effort to advocate to more just and socially-oriented society. On the 20th of February, under my leadership I have joined my strength with citizens and advocated for the social agenda where voices of marginalized people will be trumpets of change. World Day of Social Justice that we marked that day for the very first time in Bosnia and Herzegovina, was recognized for centuries in progressive democracies, but yet it took a long years of economical depression and political corruption to become active and alive again in transitional community of my country. It took an economical recession, low income of average citizen, high level of nepotism and more than half of unemployed country population, for us as a collective to finally turn our heads to the core of the fire pyres. The ashes around the burning piles of Bosnian politics, were the disenfranchised workers, hungry pensioners, underrepresented disabled people, women destroyed by gender based violence and politically manipulated national minorities.

Members of Foundation United Women and Banja Luka Center for Human Rights are sharing flyers to citizens

Standing on the main square of my city, together with the women from my NGO and surrounded by my fellow oppressed citizens, I could not help but feeling socially belonging to them more than ever before. As young women, almost invisible on the social map, I am often strangled between the personal struggle to succeed and collective duty to aid those in need, with the best of my power.

Foundation United Women Banja Luka is committed to the lives of women and children without violence and increased impact of women in public and political life through the promotion and protection of women’s human rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina. More info on: http://www.unitedwomenbl.org/

Decision to use media as a powerful social weapon in a struggle for social justice was fueled with the goal to include as much as people in the widespread project of lobbying for social revolution. Revolution that will mobilize a massive Bosnian community into one way ticket for a better society. Knowing the struggle my parents had in raising me into a determent civic entrepreneur with a mindset toward battle, I felt a moral obligation to extend that legacy into future generations of my surrounding.

Usage of social media is crucial in advocacy for the social justice. Author (Zvijezdana Marković) on the picture

Raising awareness was my key goal with the street action on the World Day of Social Justice, but also passing the inheritance to younger generations upon which the future of Bosnian society holds on. Creation of free social platform, where people could jointly share their policies, politics and actions and enjoy the fruits of their work equally is a bright future current Bosnian society anticipates. But it is upon us who live in present to ensure these visions to survive and became a fenix that will rise from the ashes of bad decisions and selfish socioeconomic arena that followed the past of my country.

“It took an economical recession, low income of average citizen, high level of nepotism and more than half of unemployed country population, for us as a collective to finally turn our heads to the core of the fire pyres. The ashes around the burning piles of Bosnian politics, were the disenfranchised workers, hungry pensioners, underrepresented disabled people, women destroyed by gender based violence and politically manipulated national minorities.”

On that way toward more socially fit atmosphere, I will often stand on the center square and invite my fellow citizens into conversation, introduce them to social platform, as I have pleaded my allegiance to that civil option. An option of social legacy that will remain within people forever.

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