Inter-University Centre Dubrovnik

An independent international centre for advanced studies

7 | EASTERN EUROPE AND THE THIRD WORLD:<br> Women's Attempt to Re-Establish the Dialogue

19 May 2005 - 22 May 2005
Conference directors:
Durda Knezević, Womens Infoteka, Zagreb, Croatia
Snježana Prijić Samaržija, University of Rijeka, Croatia
Uta Ruppert, University of Frankfurt, Germany
Mieke Verloo, University of Nijmegen, Netherlands
Conference description:
Relations between Eastern European countries and the Third World countries before the fall of the communist regimes in EE had been developed in many ways, as political, economic, cultural and other kinds of cooperation. True, all the relations had been unavoidably mediated by the state structures; however, as those structures had mostly left some space for meeting genuine needs and for involvement of actors who were not just in the service of the regimes, so at least some women's organisations had used the chances for exchanges. Within this framework, women's organizations in these countries had been in more or less regular contacts, sometimes keeping significant cooperation, with certain results. One could argue that at that time many more achievements related to the status of women in these countries had been gained than it was the case later. Moreover, it could be argued that some of achieved results have been lost during the last 15 years.
However, at both sides of the world, all these achievements had been based on the states' ideologies and attempts of the governments for changes. Nowadays we have governments less focused, or not willing at all, to do or support changes in this respect; on the contrary, we are witnessing a growing of rather powerful women's/feminist grassroots movement in all these countries.
The problem is that in the given circumstances, women's/feminist movements in these countries are much more oriented and related to Western Countries, while the
relations between what used to be called the 'Second' and the 'Third' words disappeared within the post-cold-war geo-political framework. The East-South relations are neither considered significant for the 'transition' to democracy, nor are they included in the agendas of major donors and international NGOs, i.e. such exchanges lack both governmental and nongovernmental support. Opposite to the
tacit mainstream assumptions, we believe that Eastern European countries and the countries of the Third World still have a lot in common in their political, economic and cultural developments, as well as lots of similar interests. Moreover, the global changes open new opportunities and challenges for women's rights organisations, activists, and committed researchers and scholars to explore potentials of exchanges and cooperation free of patronising state structures and ideologies, but also free from patronising support from established democracies in the advanced countries. According to the particular focus and interest of the seminar "Women and Politics", we are convinced that there is a need for re-establishing of the dialogue and cooperation of these two "worlds" and this seminar will try to initiate it.