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As part of the Programme “Share Your Knowledge - Become a Mentor“, on Saturday, 5th March, the traditional Mentoring Walk was held on the occasion of Women's Day in partnership with the organization Vital Voices, and was continued with public debate on the topic "From paper to reality: Women's Rights in Serbia." The event started with gathering on the Saint Save Square, and continued with simbolic walk along Omladinska Street and Ibar Quay.

Serbia has been on the map of global Mentoring Walks organised by Vital Voices, and one of the 87 which were held in 59 countries worldwide, with the aim to show the power of women's leadership and unite women in supporting other women.

Participants of the debate after Mentoring Walk have looked back on state of women's rights in Serbia, as well as on history of 8th March, reminding on the role of women and women movements in achieving women rights. Also, special attention was paid to the importance of sharing knowledge and mentoring in these processes. This event was attended by mentees and alumni of the Programme, mentors, as well as citizens of Kraljevo, who were interested for topic.

Speakers at the debate were Biljana Maletin, an independent expert, Milana Lazić, Coordinator for Human Security and Gender Equality from Team for Social Inclusion and Reduction of Poverty, Government of the Republic of Serbia and Marina Blagojević Hughson, Research Fellow at the Institute for Criminological and Sociological Research from Belgrade. Discussion was moderated by Svetlana Stefanović, Project Manager of the Programme "Share your knowledge - Become a mentor."

Svetlana Stefanović underlined at the beginning of the debate that 8th March is a reminder day, a good moment to recall all women who have fought trough history for their and our rights. Also, it is important to emphasize that the fight for women's rights shall remove to the local level, as well as the need to work on the empowerment of women in rural areas.“ This is not just a fight of women, but a joint struggle of men and women, for us and for the new generations to have safer and more equitable future.” 

Stefanović reminded participants that the new National Action Plan for the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325 of UN Women, Peace and Security in the Republic of Serbia (2016-2020) is in the process of making, as well as that is Serbia is a signatory of the Istanbul Convention and in accordance with which is very important harmonization of existing laws. In the process of adopting is also a Law on Equality between women and men in Republic of Serbia.

Biljana Maletin referred to the importance of the Women's Platform for the development of Serbia 2014-2020, which aims to open a permanent dialogue and draw attention to the opportunities and needs that are currently hidden. At the third Palić conference, by joint work  the Platform which emerged from an objective review of the situation has been formulated, and also offered a scenario for development of Serbia, which was entirely based on the principles of gender equality in all fields of social life. “We are the holders of the torch of change and struggle for full equality, and our mission is to make history." said Maletin.

Milana Lazić reminded present on the history of the struggle for women's rights in Serbia and explained closer gender equality index that aims to measure the gender equality. The index tracks progress in achieving gender equality and provides an assessment of the situation in four domains - work and money, knowledge, time, power and health. Serbia is the first country in the Western Balkans for which Index has been created by methodology of the European Institute for Gender Equality. Our country is lagging behind the EU most according the position of women in labor field and money (up to 33% of women are unemployed), and at least in the field of health, whereas above the EU average when it comes to power, ie women's participation in decision-making and management structures. Milana shared with participants what Mentoring means for her and expressed the wish to be part of the Programme from next generation. 

Marina Blagojević Hughson talked about the history of women's movement in Serbia, and importance of the organisation of their first conference back in 1978. Marina spoke about the invisibility of women's operative power, how culture produce inequality and how there are many layers which produce the "otherness". She also pointed to an important phenomenon, and that is a connection of femininity and concerns, on an individual and collective level. “Gender in Serbia was constructed differently than in the West. The women in this construc are culture, while men represent nature, which leads to a different kind of election, and therefore to gender discrimination. Individual empowerment is very important because that leads to the empowerment of a group, and that then leads to rooting. When women's rights are rooted, thus their denial becomes impossible.” Marina underlined. She also stressed that feminism is innovation and that the shift towards deesensalization is necessary because it is required to overcome the obsolete model of thinking.


After a very inspiring and interactive debate, participants came to the conclusion that the woman question is not even gender, but socially, civilizational question. It is necessary to overcome the negative tradition, promote positive and fight against patriarchy in the ideological and highly academic sphere, which is best reflected through the use of gender-sensitive language.



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