AFŽ Arhiv

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The End of the AFŽ – The End of Meaningful Women’s Activism? Rethinking the History of Women’s Organizations in Croatia, 1953 – 1961 - Jelena Tešija


Submitted to
Central European University
Department of Gender Studies
In partial fulfillment for the degree of Master of Arts in Gender Studies.
Supervisor: Professor Francisca de Haan


This thesis, as part of emerging scholarly work on rethinking the complex relations between feminism and socialism, explores the Savez ženskih društava Hrvatske (Union of Women’s Societies of Croatia, SŽDH), the women's organization that existed in Yugoslavia from 1953 to 1961. The SŽDH was the successor of the Antifašistički front žena (Antifascist Women’s Front, AFŽ), and while there is ample literature about the activities of the AFŽ, the activities of its successor organizations are hardly researched. This thesis examines the case of the SŽDH in order to understand better what was happening in a forgotten period of Yugoslav women’s history. I first discuss second-wave feminist historians’ perspectives on the AFŽ, and in particular the fact that that most historians who have written about the AFŽ claim that its dissolution in 1953, as an autonomous organization, was detrimental for meaningful work on women’s problems in Yugoslavia. Second, I look at archival documents of the SŽDH. I approach the material from a bottom-up perspective, which goes against the hegemonic narrative on communist women’s organizations as being simply obedient “Party tools”. I research the activities and goals of the SŽDH, the discussions and debates within the organization as well as the problems that the SŽDH women were facing in their practical work. I focus on the SŽDH women’s own perspective and the terms which they used themselves when discussing and explaining their work. Using a bottom-up approach and avoiding to apply the second-wave feminist “autonomy principle” for a state socialist women’s organization, this analysis shows that the SŽDH was not simply a “Party tool”. This research proves that the SŽDH women had their voices and opinions; that they had a well-thought-out strategy and ideas on how to enhance women’s position in the context they lived in; and that they extensively discussed the SŽDH’s position in the new circumstances of self-management in Yugoslavia.


Jelena Tešija





Jelena Tešija








83 pages


The_End_of_the_AFZ_The_End_of_Meaningful Jelena Tesija.pdf

Bibliografski navod

Jelena Tešija, “The End of the AFŽ – The End of Meaningful Women’s Activism? Rethinking the History of Women’s Organizations in Croatia, 1953 – 1961 - Jelena Tešija,” AFŽ Arhiv, pristupljeno 13. lipnja 2024.,


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