Dr. Maša Živanović: A Pioneer in Health Care for Women and Children in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Husref Tahirović, Maša Miloradović, Jelena Jovanović Simić


The aim of the article is to present, primarily to the medical world and also the general public, the personality and work of Maša Živanović (1890–1960), a pioneer in the health care of children and mothers in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BH), a health educator and one of the leaders of the Yugoslav Women’s Rights Movement in the period between the two world wars. She was born in Croatia (then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) as Maria Skopszyński, in a family of Polish-Czech origin. After studying at the Temporary Women’s Lyceum in Zagreb and passing the matriculation exam at the boy’s High School (1909), she obtained the title of Doctor of Medicine in Vienna (1916). Her activity in the Women’s Rights Movement has so far generally attracted more attention from researchers than her medical work. However, this work was very important because the general and health education of women, expectant mothers and mothers, after the two World Wars was very poor in BH, and the rates of child morbidity and mortality were high. Maša Živanović spent almost her entire working life in Sarajevo. For 30 years, she was the head of the Dispensary for Mothers and the Children, later the Institute for Maternal and Child Health Care, into which the previous institution grew in 1931. She was among the first followers of the new concept of “comprehensive paediatrics“, which included social care for children, disease prevention and treatment of the sick. She successfully connected the medical mission with the mission of a women’s rights activist, also trying to act as a health educator through articles published in the Women’s Movement magazine (Ženski pokret). For a time, she was the president of the Society for the Education of Woman and Protection of her Rights, i.e. the Women’s Movement, and a delegate at conferences of international feminist organizations.

Conclusion. Maša Živanović was a physician, a pioneer in the health care of children and mothers in BH, a long-time director of the Institute for Health Care of Mothers and Children in Sarajevo, and one of the leaders of the Yugoslav Women’s Rights Movement.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5644/ama2006-124.395


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