Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: A Woman’s Story

Always in the shadows, a woman should be a mother, companion, homemaker, wife and sister. She should serve and provide. A woman should be “a woman”.

How much time do we need in the fight for equality if, indeed, we are truly equal?

At the mention of International Women’s Day in my hometown, many of us first think about the symbolic gifts and flowers that are to be given on that day. However, that is not what women fought for. Women need not be noticed only one day a year.

My grandmother Slavica, whom we will symbolically call Yesterday, is an example of a self-sacrificing, determined and tenacious woman and mother enduring the difficult mission of raising a child as a single parent. All of her personal needs were forgotten during the war, as was the case for most of her peers. With a look of melancholy, she comments on today’s celebration of International Women’s Day. Yesterday recalls how 8 March was celebrated during “her time”.

“When I was your age, my child, this holiday was a powerful incentive for, and was indicative of, female independence and equality. Today, it has been commercialized to degrade women.”

My mother Tanja is an example of a woman we will symbolically call “Today”. Like grandma Slavica, she is a single mother with two children, who is also unemployed. “Today” is marginalized by society because she lacks a man in her life. Despite all this, she is independent and, for her, 8 March is a day that symbolizes the success of the female fight for equality in the mountainous Balkans.

“When I see all those colorful gifts and flowers that are being given to women on that day, I have to ask myself if those men see the true value in women during the other days of the year. If those men do not recognize this value, 8 March has no substance because then it has only served to reinforce that women be given visibility on just one day each year.”

Looking back at the generations of women in my family I see a common thread that binds them together, and that is the thread of injustice inflicted upon them by men and by the society in which they live. Regardless of whether we are referring to the past or the present, the circumstances have remained the same.

My name is Sara, and I symbolize the woman “Tomorrow”. Young, ambitious, honest and ready for the time in which a woman is recognized as equal. A time in which she is aware that equality is not a passive state and becomes, in essence, the female activist. My voice must be heard and my needs, for which I must heroically fight, must be transparently represented. We, the women of “Tomorrow”, should challenge the stereotypes and judgments. Our struggle for an open-minded society that values women as man’s equal has just begun.

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If one day I opt for motherhood and have a daughter who will become the “heiress” to the next generation of the Velaga women, I want her to be brave and to believe she can accomplish anything she sets her mind to. I want her to know that Women’s Day is not just one day each year, but every day of her life. I will tell her that, despite all the ups and downs, or whether she marries or not, a woman is equally worthy and nobody has the right to claim otherwise. I will prove this to her through the examples of women from the Velaga family.

Yes, a woman can do anything! We should, can and will act in all spheres of society. It is unacceptable to tolerate those stereotypical stories about women and how their only functions are motherhood and housework. There is too much talk of alpha males and dependent women.

Bosnian society needs to experience a cold splash of reality, for which it is obviously not ready. Maybe now it is time for the alpha female.

Sara Velaga

Sara Velaga is a Balkan Diskurs trained correspondent from Jajce, Bosnia-Herzegovina. In 2015 she was awarded second place in the Post-Conflict Research Center’s Srđan Aleksić Youth Competition.

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Winner of the Intercultural Achievement Recognition Award by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs

Post-Conflict Research Center
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