The promotion of the book “Shining humanity: Bosnian Women’s Peace Journey” by Zilka Spahić Šiljak was held on December 9th, 2013 at the UN House in Sarajevo. The book has been promoted by prof. emerita Svenka Savić from Novi Sad, Nejra Nuna Čengić, and instead of professor Svetlana Slapšak, parts of her review were presented by Aida Spahić. On behalf of UN Women, the head of UN Women office in Sarajevo, Anne-Marie Esper Larsen addressed the audience and Adnan Rondić moderated the promotion. At the end of the promotion Zilka Spahić Šiljak, the author of the book, expressed her gratitude and Marko Orsolić, who was awarded for Peace Activism by Peace Network, congratulated all the women peace-makers.
The research for this book covers the life stories of eleven women residents of BiH who are leaders in peace-building work in the region and who come from varying ethnic backgrounds, both religious and non-religious. They have been active over the last two decades in peace and reconciliation efforts in BiH. Personal stories are important because they tell us about “journeys of learning to be a full human being and faithful person.” These journeys require strength, dedication, curiosity, passion, strategies to find solutions when facing difficulties, and making right choices. We hope the Bosnian women’s stories will move readers to find the right direction in their own personal journeys.
All of the women peace heroines in this book particularly emphasized their role in the creation and nurturing of relationships crucial for peace work. These women were tireless in re-building broken relationships and in creating new ones with voiceless, powerless, and marginalized groups of citizens. They recognized that relationships are crucial not only on a personal level, but also when peace-building activities need to move on to other levels – societal, institutional, and global.
Peacebuilders in this book are not perfect women, they are as entitled to mistakes and fear as anyone else, but what makes them stand out is the strength to stand tall and do things to make life better fro other people. When it comes from the soul, as Rumi explains “you feel a river moving in you, a joy“.[i] Their deep belief that the light of humanity exists in every person and it just needs encouragement, gave them the strength to continue on their peace paths. They knew that when a sparkle of humanity appears in the eye of one person, it is possible to see the whole universe sparkle. These women have done it countless number of times and that makes their stories special and important.
I hope that in their stories the readers will recognize the capability of ordinary people to drive changes and achieve results in circumstances in which people must dare imagine lives beyond the imposed social, ethnic, political and/or gender frames. These women dared imagine a different world, one without fear and imposed divisions and that makes their stories worth hearing.
The selected women live in six cities of BiH: Sarajevo (Rahela Džidić, Jadranka Miličević, Besima Borić, Amra Pandžo); Banja Luka (Nada Golubović and Lidija Živanović); Zenica (Sabiha Husić); Bosansko Grahovo (Danka Zelić); Bijeljina (Radmila Žigić); Bratunac (Stanojka Tešić); and Mostar (Jasminka Rebac). Most are active in women’s organizations and carry a high profile as women’s human rights activists.