My first contact (what a military type phrase), with International Women’s Day was back in 1999.
I can’t really remember having either witnessed, or even heard of the day before that.
You would think that being British, and the great work done by the Suffragettes in the early 20th Century, would have resonated with me. It didn’t.
Anyway, I had arrived in Banja Luka the previous September and was still getting used to the nuances of the area as well as the culture.
The whole experience I remember was adventurous. Everyday could be like walking in a minefield (no pun intended).
From drinking rakija, avoiding having any opinion regarding the recently established peace, trying to understand who was who, or to the food I was offered, it was complex.
After two Christmases later (one Catholic, one Orthodox), I found myself in the first week of March, in a meeting with the local guys in my team, discussing how we would finance 8. Mart (8th March).
There would have to be flowers for each of the girls (ladies), not only in our team but also those we had a connection with.
Then we needed to get coffee makings in, plus, “boss can you get some boxes of those cool chocolates from the PX?”
I was, I must admit, a bit confused dot com.
After a lesson in Socialist History, and yes it is a Socialist, or rather today, a POST Socialist event, I realised how important it was, is, to have a day dedicated to women.
A day when there’s some public recognition.
A day when at least publicly, any man who ignores it gets scorned.
Weird when you consider how male dominated today’s western Balkans remain.
I digress as usual.
I paid my contribution.
I still think it’s a bloody good thing to do and to have in the calendar.
The British Suffragette movement got equality for women across the United Kingdom. It was a sometimes bloody struggle. It wasn’t till 1928 that all women over 21 could vote. The start of equality.
But there never was a day in the British calendar allocated to recognise women.
The former Jugoslavija gave women the vote in 1945. They also gave those women a day of recognition in the calendar.