Both Slovene and Yugoslav communists formed their attitude towards the issue of women on the basis of the Marxist theory and practical experience in the Soviet Union. A woman was not supposed to be merely a mother and a housewife, but also an employed, educated, and politically active individual. Therefore, the state should ensure that women get an equal status in the family and society. However, this it was not “an easy ride”. In Yugoslavia and Slovenia, old patriarchal values were still deeply rooted and it was impossible to expect that men would accept their wives’ and daughters’ different roles without resistance; additionally, not all women were willing or able to accept the new way of life.
The communist party rejected the establishment of independent women’s organizations, saying that the women’s question is merely a part of the working class struggle. However, under exceptional circumstances, during World War II and the revolution, the party leadership decided to establish the Women’s Antifascist Front. Initially, its purpose was to draw women into the National Liberation War. After the war, it helped in rebuilding the state and resolving social issues, it promoted employment and education of women and their participation in governing and political bodies. However, its main purpose was to educate women in the socialist spirit and draw them and their children away from the influence of the Catholic Church. In the early fifties, the party wanted to stress the role of the Liberation Front, which was to take care of the education of all citizens. The Women’s Antifascist Front was dissolved on the premise that any separation of women in a specific political organization led to feminism and hindered their involvement in the general social and political life and adversely affected the achievement of their equality.
Mateja Jeraj was born in 1955 in Ljubljana. She obtained her BA in 1979 at the Faculty of Arts (History), the University of Ljubljana, her MA (archiv.sc.) in 1995, and her PhD (in history) in 2003 at the same faculty. She is employed in the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia and has worked as an archivist since 1980; she is responsible for political organisations. She researches Slovene history after World War II (particularly political organisations, women’s movement, and political trials) and archival science. She has taken part in various national and international seminars and conferences.