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November 3, 2017

Fighting “Like a Girl”

You can find Gudovic leading a theater class, organizing street performances, lecturing about feminism, performing drag, holding a microphone in the streets during a protest, or speaking at a rally. Gudovic even co-founded a band, Charming Princess. She does it all.

By Christina Noto

Belgrade, 24 October 2017 — “I am a little fighter girl. And I think that this is something that we need in the world… girls who fight,” Zoe Gudovic says. Her burgundy t-shirt mirrors the rosy glow of her cheeks as her signature smile spreads across her face.

As a feminist and art-activist, Gudovic, 40, currently works as public relations manager of the Reconstruction Women’s Fund (RWF) a non-governmental organization which aims to support feminist movements against war, nationalism and racism.

You can find Gudovic leading a theater class, organizing street performances, lecturing about feminism, performing drag, holding a microphone in the streets during a protest, or speaking at a rally. Gudovic even co-founded a band, Charming Princess. She does it all.

As co-founder of Act Women, an activist street theater group founded in 2003, she has spread her unique talent from Belgrade, to Vienna and San Francisco.

Gudovic, graduated from the Academy of Arts in Belgrade, and is also the co-host of a live feminist radio show called Zenergija (mix of Serbian words women and energy) with her RWF colleague and fellow feminist activist Mirjana Mirosavljevic Bobic. The two-hour show first went on the air more than 10 years ago and now broadcasts every Thursday.

The shelf at Gudovic’s office at the RWF contains a canvas with a quote from Zarana Papic, a former feminist activist from Belgrade, and Gudovic’s David Bowie records.

“She is one of the most generous people I know; I love her courage and energy. I love when we laugh until we’re starting to grunt. She is bold. And sometimes overwhelmingly loud. [She] is smiling, happy, and loud. She is not afraid to speak her mind,” Mirosavljevic Bobic said.

Gudovic is involved in many forms of activism but her favorite part of the work is “when you see a real impact on this that you do.”

“For example, when you have feminism in university, when you have Women’s Studies in part of the university, when you have a lot of groups who develop strategies for helping women victims of violence because the government doesn’t, when you see that a lot artists don’t have a problem saying that they are feminist artists,” said Gudovic.

Through her passion for theater and art, she became more involved with activism and feminist movements.

Joe is a painting on the wall in Gudovic’s office at the RWF. He was on the wall when the space was acquired by the RWF and is one of reasons they chose the space.

“From the theater, I also figured out that women are always also in some kind of second position. Then I figured out, in the economy, they are in a second position.”

Gudovic said she wanted to play a part in ending this inferiority. This is what she has decided her life to.

In 1998, she became a member of Women at Work, a feminist group, where Gudovic helped to connect art to activism. “This was really my beautiful period because I grew in that group,” said Gudovic.

Nikoleta Kosovac, a coordinator at the street paper LICEULICE, has known Gudovic since arriving to Belgrade as a freshman.

“I love her energy, passion, candidness, fearlessness and the fact that she is not giving up on her ideals even if it is really difficult to find new motivation and strength sometimes,” Kosovac said.

She fights to change the status quo, end discrimination, and help all women: from queer women, to survivors of domestic abuse.

Gudovic is the advisor of both the Global Fund for Women and the Netherlands based foundation Mama Cash which supports trans people and women fight for political and economic rights.

In 2017, she received the Feminist Achievement for her work with feminist activism.

Gudovic is a “girl who fights” and will continue to fight for all women, no matter their background.

About this author

Reporting Balkans

Reporting Balkans is the work of students from the SIT Balkans, Peace and Conflict Studies journalism track. Our student journalists cover the scenes, people and issues of this challenging region throughout their semester in Belgrade, while being mentored by seasoned reporters.

Reporting Balkans collects the best of their work with the aim of becoming a repository of insightful, thoughtful reporting on the Balkans.

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