01 May 2018

Women in the Balkans know how to battle online sexism

With the rise of Internet use across the Balkans, a growing number of women experience online harassment. However, refusing to remain passive, they have come up with creative and powerful ways to combat the problem.

Lidija Pisker
Lidija Pisker NewsMavens, Balkans
Women in the Balkans know how to battle online sexism - NewsMavens
Mogu da neću/Facebook

Why this story matters:

Recently, we have witnessed a wave of skepticism about social media's ability to trigger change. The term "slacktivism" best describes the attitude of many towards online activism, often perceived as superficial and megalomaniac.

In the meantime, young women across Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina remind us that the Internet can be a powerful tool for exposing injustice.

They create websites, social media pages and online apps to reveal online harassment and widespread bias against women. They also use their online presence to raise awareness about the achievements of female scientists, artists and leaders.

As a result, powerful men have apologized for their sexist comments or resigned from their positions.

Hundreds of people have also learned about women famous for something other than the label on their dress or their dating record.

In the countries of former Yugoslavia, where traditional gender roles are still strong and the presence of women in media scarce, such actions are not only valuable. They are revolutionary. 

Details from the story:

  • In February this year, Bosnian science journalist and blogger Jelena Kalinić revealed humiliating sexist messages she received from Bosnian writer Goran Samardžić via social media. Her post triggered some reactions from human rights activists and feminists in the region. 
  • One of such examples is zeneBiH (Women of BiH) online campaign, which aims to teach Internet users about notable Bosnian women -- scientists, writers and filmmakers. The campaign took place in March, globally celebrated as Women’s History Month. 
  • The Facebook page Seksizam naš svagdašnji (Our Daily Sexism) denounces examples of sexism in Croatian online media. It is a brain child of volunteers from the Croatian website Libela, which exposes sexist statements of Croatian politicians.
  • The Bosnian Facebook page Sve su to vještice (All of them are Witches) criticizes sexism through humorist memes. 
  • The Serbian feminist organization Autonomni ženski centar launched an awareness campaign about violence in young people’s relationships titled Mogu da neću – Ljubav nije nasilje (I can refuse -- Love is Not Violence). A part of the campaign, an online application called Aj' Odchataj (Chat Off) was launched so that young women could use it to reveal experiences of violent behaviors in their relationships. 
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