Opening Address

Ubiquitous resistance

With the constant attack on reproductive rights, militarization, and rising poverty, there is a steep decline in gender equality globally. However, women* are also actively advancing their position worldwide. Not to lament the losses, the 29th edition of the festival City of Women will focus on and promote our ubiquitous resistance and its constant gains.

Women have participated in and ignited numerous social struggles throughout history with goals ranging from calls for social justice, like the struggles for personal liberties, or obtaining greater rights or privileges for different groups. They have also actively participated in antiregime, anti-occupation, and secession campaigns.

In a widely acclaimed book, “Why Civil Resistance Works”, its authors, Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan, claim that mass participation is fundamental for the success of political campaigns. Based on empirical data, their main argument is that nonviolent campaigns enable a diverse social base to participate. In continued research carried out by Chenoweth and her research team focusing on gender in resistance campaigns, the researchers find that successful campaigns with a prominent positive focus on gender equality and or women participating in large numbers in the resistance have a greater rate of success and enhance gender equality after the struggle ends.

Women have joined and led nonviolent campaigns and insurrections and continue to do so. To challenge the widely shared intuitions, speculations, and positive stereotypes on the more inclusive, nonviolent, or at least less-violent “nature” of struggles joined or dominated by women, we are taking the issues of ubiquitous resistance by women and gender non-conforming people as the working theme of the 29th edition of the City of Women festival. In line with our mission, the festival stands with those who partake, document, and promote struggles that envision egalitarian futures. Ranging from calls for social justice and gender equality in different walks of life to enforcing legal rights and obtaining them for different groups when absent, the works presented in the festival focus on cases where gender, many times intersecting with other debilitating personal circumstances, further exuberates social or political exclusion. 

We have invited artists and authors from around the world to present works at the 29th City of Women festival while confidently emphasizing local histories of egalitarian struggles like the efforts of WAF (AFŽ) antifascist insurgencies. The endeavor to document and preserve this omitted history, often performed outside of the institutional frameworks, is, as Svetlana Slapšak writes, a euphemism exposing “oblivion with gender characteristic.”


City of Women crew


From Weekend Revolution to Hydrorevolution

In the collective global experience and memory, revolutions happen in a short period of time, day to day and even overnight; there is no pause or slowing down, until victory is achieved. This is how we learned in the last century, from student demonstrations in the USA and Europe in the sixties, through the fall of Mediterranean dictatorships in the seventies, South Korean demonstrations in the eighties, Belgrade in 1997, but also in this century, from Hong Kong to Catalan to French. Most did not see victory, but some, except for the collapse of the dictatorship, were simply beautiful.

In the twenties of this century, together with the epidemic, there were new forms of political struggle of those who do not have power. Of the many cases around the world, I think of three that show certain similarities: the Slovenian, Israeli and Serbian rebellions.

The common element is obviously demonstrating on a certain day of the week, at the beginning of the weekend, that is, on a strictly non-working day. Demonstrators thereby renounce revolutionary speed, even determination, and carry out the protest as a daily routine. The government is faced with the permanence and endurance of the citizens instead of the onslaught and courage of some revolutionary front, which is always easy to abandon and surrender to a heroic fate. The advantage of weekend protests is that they unite everyone, trade unions, party members and people who normally don't go to the streets. Among the protesters are all generations, all genders, all social classes, because the demands are self-evident or minimal. People have simply had enough. They had enough time to see that parliamentary democracy is malleable, boorish and lying, that the parties are morally and intellectually wretched and many leaders are freaks and fools, that the welfare state is collapsing and that selfishness, neglect and injustice reign. Against the authorities, they have a completely new weapon, hitherto unused in modern times: time. And it is not about some infinite time, but about the hour, one hour, the moment when the government needs to leave - now, now, now. The most tragic rebellion with demonstrations today, Iran's, despite the many murders, torture and death sentences, shows that even the heaviest kind of rebellion still exists.

This very example could lead to the question of whether weekend revolutions and new forms of struggle against the parliamentary-democratic system are the result of a certain commodification of rebellion, adaptation to habits. Didn't we adapt to the epidemic and the war in the middle of Europe in two years? It seems to me that we should not go far, because the weekend revolution and peaceful endurance may be an effective tool against the greatest danger that threatens any rebellion: nationalism. This is what gives the near-failed, inflated, paranoid dictators in parliamentary democracies wings a second before they fall into the mud. Nationalism can still, if not serve, separate and slow down rebellions, and prevent the expected development of thought and direction against capitalism. So go calmly, on weekends, socializing, discussing, and agreeing, regularly and consistently. Regularity alone makes dictators' ears turn red.

Everything described clearly shows which social group is most capable of fulfilling all these requirements: it is women, with all the vast knowledge and skills taught to them by the patriarchy. And then, precisely in Slovenia, we got another lesson - albeit a disastrous one - from rivers and wild waters. Perseverance and power can and must, when necessary, use speed. After the flood, one has to think differently about space, use, consumer habits: criticism that no one expected came flooding in. That criticism is revolutionary, because it warns everyone, even ecofeminism. The waters provided the basis for fundamental changes in society, the family, and each woman in particular.


Svetlana Slapšak