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The first round table of the ‘Share your knowledge, become a mentor’ Program was held on Saturday, Fabruary 22, 2014, on the topic of Youth Social Activism in Serbia. Attendees of the round table were, beside panelists, mentees as well as some of the mentors. There were two panels, one on youth policy and the other on youth activism in practice.

Speakers of the Youth activism in youth policy panel were Mrs. Snežana Klašnja, Assistant Minister in the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Mrs. Marija Bulat, Secretary General of the KOMS, and the moderator Mrs. Maja Bobić, Secretary General of the European Movement in Serbia.

Mrs. Snežana Klašnja pointed out that women make majority of students attending universities, yet they are the minority when it comes to the labor market. She emphasized the importance of activism, as an engagement crucial for progress, as well as informal education since it is becoming more and more important. She mentioned existing institutional mechanisms that supported and encouraged the youth such as Youth council, National Strategy for the Youth and Career Guidance Strategy. She added that youth could actively participate in the development of these Strategies for the period of 2015-2020 and that it represented a great opportunity for the youth to contribute to their own future.

Mrs. Marija Bulat spoke about current trends of youth activism and concluded that only a small number of young people was motivated to engage in this type of activity. As a reason she listed elements of their environment such and: school, family and broader social surrounding. Furthermore, she pointed out the school subject Civic Education as a potentially useful mechanism which could have a direct effect on the youth and promote the importance of the issue. Nevertheless, she emphasized that good examples existed - active young people who wanted to make changes in the society, and that we should make a suitable environment for this behavior to become more common.

They discussed the Law on Volunteerism and the fact that excessive paperwork is causing low effectiveness. Mrs. Snežana Klašnja said that either certain parts or the Law as whole would have to be changed. Moreover, role of the media was emphasized, since they can help promote youth activism, especially individuals as agents of change.

Speakers of the second panel, Mrs. Nikoleta Kosovac, Liceulice Coordinator, mantees on the ‘Share your knowledge become a mentor’ Program, Mrs. Biljana Rakić, Marina Simeunović, and Mrs. Margareta Nedeljković, an activist, spoke about their own experiences as activists with panel’s moderator Mrs. Dina Rakin, Researcher in the European Movement in Serbia. In an interactive conversation panelists described their beginnings, obstacles they faced, as well as lessons they have learned and why it has been important to be active.

Mrs. Nikoleta Kosovac spoke of street newspapers, the concept and other initiatives of Liceulice, besides talking about her own experience. She said that the sales method they use, with individuals from marginalized groups selling the papers on the street, was aimed at creation of a space for communication, for both salesman and customer. She mentioned initiatives “My neighbor without a roof” (“Moj komšija bez krova”) i “Not giving the streets away” (“Ne dam ulice”) as a way for broader public to give their, much needed, contribution to the community.

Mrs. Biljana Rakić spoke about her experience dealing with youth and women issues. She emphasized the importance of a mentor as a person of trust, that doesn’t have to tell which decisions to make, but rather mildly guide and support. Furthermore, she described her experience working on SOS telephone hot line for women and children, victims of violence. This experience meant a great deal to her and she learned how important it is to give that sort of support to somebody.

While sharing her experience, working on Roma population issues, Mrs. Marina Simeunović noted the importance of family support and the support from professors. She highlighted that education is of great importance for Roma population and that only education can propel individuals to activate and start taking responsibility for their own future.

Mrs. Margareta Nedeljković stated that only a small portion of youth saw the importance of engaging and having an active role in their communities. She said that one should lead by example, not wait for the perfect moment, since the perfect moment is always now.

Round table represented a great opportunity for young women to advance their knowledge on the topic and learn some new information, gain confidence and be encouraged to take on an active role in their community. 


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