Martina BitunjacSapienza University of Rome. Rome, ItalyMartina BitunjacSapienza University of Rome. Rome, ItalyThe "Independent State of Croatia” was proclamaited on 10 April 1941 after the collapse and occupation of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Officially the puppet state was governed by the terroristic organization the Ustasha and its leader Ante Pavelić. One important aim of the Ustasha ideology was the creation of the "new men and women” in the fascist and nacional socialist "new Europe”. Men had to serve the homeland and nation as brave warriors and women as mothers and educators.
The Ustashi but also Tito’s "People’s Liberation movement” discovered women for their political aims during the war years. While the Ustashi practiced the existing, centuries-old conservative-Catholic patriarchy in a stronger form that resembled Fascism in many aspects, the Communists - by contrast - propagated a progressive-feminist image of women and promised their equality in the future socialist state Yugoslavia.
Since the women proved that they were good combatants on the front, the Communist propaganda always emphasized the liberal and non-patriarchal position of the Resistance movement towards women. In the "Declaration on the Basic Rights of the People and the Citizens of Democratic Croatia” from 1943, women received political rights for the first time and were no longer discriminated in the family law.
However, in practice the women Partisans were frequently treated unjustly by their male comrades and the Ustasha government did not succeed in restricting the woman to the role of mother, because their labour was needed in all fields of work.