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The founders’ voice: Lepa Mladjenovic and Urszula Nowakowska

For the celebration of our 25th anniversary, two of WAVE Network’s founders, Lepa Mladjenovic of SOS Hotline in Belgrade, Serbia and Urszula Nowakowska, Vice Secretary of Centrum Praw Kobiet in Poland, spoke about the beginnings of the WAVE Network – the challenges, its goals and what they hope of the future.

The video opens with Lepa’s description of the Fourth United Nations World Conference on Women in Beijing, 1995. She remembers the atmosphere as “incredibly creative” with feminists gathering from all around the world willing to fight violence against women and to build together a new society without gender-based violence. Lepa spoke about the strong willingness to create a change between feminists and participants, to collaborate and to build a network supported for the first time by an official international document, the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (CEDAW).

Urszula talked about the preparatory meeting for the Conference in Beijing in 1994 as her first “exposure to the issue of violence against women”. Both events really served as the background for the future of feminist work all around the world. In 1997 the first WAVE Eastern European Conference was held in Belgrade and was followed by the first official WAVE Conference that took place in Vienna, where delegates from more than 20 countries expressed their interest in collaborating with the network.

“I hope our values one day, our WAVE values and principles, will be more universal and we don’t have to fight for it but to maintain it and celebrate,” said Urszula.