The Center for Women’s Studies in Belgrade was initiated in 1991 by the Belgrade feminist group “Woman and Society.” Symbolically, it was on March 8, 1992 when the first, experimental, one-semester Women’s Studies course started.
Although conceptualized as a peacetime endeavor, the very beginning and during a significant part of its history, the Center for Women’s Studies worked in the context of recent wars (1991–1999). Therefore, the initial assumption in the work of the Center for Women’s Studies, as an educational project, was the fact that it was not a value-neutral project – nor was it ever presented as such – because its basic determinant was a clear political determination against war and nationalism, as well as being grounded in a strong feminist activist initiative.
The turning point in the history of the Belgrade Center for Women’s Studies is what happened as part of our long-term strategy, which is the institutionalization of the Women’s Studies program at the University of Belgrade.
After many efforts, a whole body of programs in the field of women’s and gender studies were accredited, which led to the foundation of the first institution at the University of Belgrade whose goal was to build and promote gender studies (Center for Gender and Political Studies, at the Faculty of Political Sciences).
Today, we engage in extra-institutional activism, enabling free, creative and courageous moves. For almost three decades, the center was organized as a complete interdisciplinary educational project consisting of research, teaching, and publishing programs. All programs were primarily focused on gender, sexuality, ethnicity, race, and class. The center was dedicated to the theoretical research of the possibility of resistance in relation to the phenomena of exclusion and finding not only a model of tolerance of differences but also pointing out the richness in differences.
After three decades of its existence and active work that contributed to the Center being recognized both regionally and globally, the Center for Women’s Studies still supports the idea that development of an equal and democratic society in Serbia and the region is not possible without feminism.
In accordance with its values and principles in the last four decades, the Center has been focusing its work on three key fields: production, sharing and action, i.e. activation of feminist knowledge. It is achieved through thorough research of the most current topics, collecting and making available existing material in printed and digital form, publication of relevant topics, and providing professional support to female academics. In addition, the Center designs and implements teaching programs, educational courses, special thematic modules for various groups, and serves as a kind of feminist knowledge center for civil society and the women’s movement in the region. In this way, the Center puts feminist knowledge into practice and thus encourages active engagement in the direction of social change, in addition to the above, through public campaigns, a critical approach to public policies, connecting, encouraging and directing the key social actors towards democratic changes.