In Memoriam: Gordana Rajkov 1944- 2022

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Gordana Rajkov, a world-renowned activist of the movement for the rights of persons with disabilities and the first MP with disability in the Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, passed away on June 14, 2022, at the age of seventy-eight.

Gordana Rajkov was born on December 29, 1944, in Belgrade. She graduated from the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at the University of Belgrade and acquired the title of professor of mathematics. After the university, she became active in the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Yugoslavia and reached the position of vice-president and president of it. Working to promote human rights at the European level, she gets in touch with the activists from Ireland. In 1992. she traveled to Dublin, during the period when the Center for Independent Living Dublin started working and introduced the personal assistance service. Three years later, Gordana Rajkov brought the philosophy of independent living home, became one of the founders, and then a president of the Center for Independent Living of Persons with Disabilities Serbia. She has designed a string of educational programs to raise awareness about discrimination and the rights of persons with disabilities, as well as support programs to improve the quality of life of persons with disabilities.

Gordana Rajkov is the first person with a disability to be politically active in Serbia: from 2007 to 2012, she was a Member of Parliament of the Assembly of the Republic of Serbia.

If you don’t want to deal with politics, politics with deal with you anyway. – she said about her political engagement.

During her tenure, the Law on Social Protection was adopted, which for the first time defines the right to use personal assistance services according to the model devised by the Center for Independent Living.

Working as a coordinator for regional cooperation and a counselor for issues of persons with disabilities in Southeast Europe in the Belgrade office of the British organization OXFAM, Gordana Rajkov becomes a pioneer of the intersectional approach in Serbia: she introduces a gender dimension in the movement for the rights of persons with disabilities, makes connections with women’s rights activists, talks about double discrimination against women with disabilities, and advocates for greater participation of women with disabilities in management positions. She is the author of numerous studies in the field of disability, social policy, support services, gender equality, and discrimination against women.

Gordana Rajkov was a member of the Board of Directors and Vice President of the World Organization of Persons with Disabilities, a member of the Executive Board of the European Network of Centers for Independent Living, and President of the European Association of Persons with Muscular Dystrophy.

The European Network for Independent Living has included Gordana Rajkov in the ENIL Hall of Fame. She will be remembered as a woman who pushed the boundaries and went beyond the existing framework.

Vying for a Choice: Gordana Rajkov – a Life Story

Translated by: Suzana Belos

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