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Bosnian War Inspires Student Feminism And Filmmaking

Do you hate men?

Nandina Cengic said she hears that question all the time. That's because the Foster High School senior tells people she is a feminist. As she puts it, people assume she's a "man hater," who's "trying to squander men."

"Which isn't true at all!" she said. 

Cengic is the type of person you find sitting in front of class with her brown hair in a ponytail wearing an eccentric patterned scarf around her neck.

She was born in Sarajevo in 1996, just after the Bosnian War.  Last year, she began to learn more about the war. 

"Serbian forces would go to towns or villages," she said, where they would "kill most of [the men] and take the women and place them in rape camps. They would repeatedly rape women and young girls as well. A lot of those women are still reeling from what happened to them."

Cengic learned about the war in her civics class. Her teacher, Andrea Gamboa, became a role model. "She's somebody I look up to because she embodies what I want to be in the future," Cengic said. "She's independent, she's confident, she's a strong woman."

Soon, Cengic began to read books and watch movies about how women are treated around the world. During her junior year she felt inspired to contribute to the cause she is passionate about. She made a short film titled "Wicked" about the destructive effects of domestic violence. 

'You Just Missed The Whole Point'

Cengic isn't the only feminist at Foster High School who wants to create change. Her friend, junior Laila McKinly, is also working to make a difference.

McKinley was in psychology class one day when she said the teacher showed the class a controversial FCKH8 video about women's rights. It asks viewers to consider: "What’s more offensive: A little girl saying f*ck or the sexist way society treats girls and women?” 

"Once the video was done," McKinley said, "This boy sitting next to me said, 'Wow, I hate watching little kids cuss,' and I just thought to myself, you just missed the whole point of the video."

Tired of what she saw as a lack of understanding of the feminist movement, McKinley was inspired to create a Feminist Society at Foster High School in Tukwila, Wash.

Cengic is pumped to join the club. She sees many ways to strengthen the feminist community, starting by empowering other women "instead of putting other girls down."

"If we support [women] in whatever endeavors they’re making, that will make a community of women stronger, and make the goal to achieve more rights more feasible."

After making her film Cengic has felt more comfortable as a feminist and more confident to speak up. 

To her, feminism is "about equality, and achieving equality in all means of life." 

Watch Nandina Cengic's film "Wicked:"

RadioActive is KUOW's program for high school students. This story was produced in RadioActive’s Fall Workshop in partnership with the Tukwila Community Center. Listen to RadioActive stories, subscribe to the RadioActive podcast and stay in touch on Facebook and Twitter.

This story was originally published to the Web December 29,2014.