"Woman, life, freedom!"

Photo: Goran Srdanov

"Woman, life, freedom!"

“Today, we are celebrating girls and young women who are overcoming everything that is, directly or indirectly, set as an obstacle to reshare, reeducate, or literally destroy them. We see them standing bravely at the barricades, fighting against repression, defending human rights, their own integrity and dignity. We are thankful for that!," said Marijana Savić, director of Atina at the conference "How we are creating better opportunities and chances for girls on the move" that took place in Belgrade.

She pointed out that the two organisations, Atina and Save the Children, began official cooperation more than 10 years ago, through an initiative that aimed for the Republic of Serbia to recognise children on the move and their needs; to have them recognised in the legislative and strategic framework of Serbia, and to systemically resolve all the issues these children are facing. "After ten years, we went several steps beyond this, and we are happy to present the results of the joint initiative carried out together with the Save the Children organisation whose focus are girls on the move and the improvement of their position in Serbia. That is why our activities within this initiative have opened the space for these girls who belong to the population of girls on the move, to be Pippi Longstocking of the 21. century, active, ambitious, and rebellious; to learn, advocate, and influence policies in their own communities," she pointed out.   

The project Pippi of Today has four main pillars. The first one is direct support for over 130 girls and young women on the move with the experience of violence to recover and overcome the consequences of their experience. The second pillar is raising the capacities of the women and girls on approaching all the rights that belong to them, but also on active participation in the political and social life wherever they are, so they can fight for the rights of women and equality in every sense. Among others, this initiative has also supported public events created by girls for girls. "How much this activity means to the girls themselves, how important it is for them to have their voices heard, and how valuable it is for them to have a space to say what they think is clearly shown by the fact that we had twice more actions than planned on their own initiative," she pointed out.

The third pillar of activities was related to conquering economic freedoms and education. "I would particularly emphasise training and practice in our social enterprise Bagel Bejgl, which girls gladly participated in. The opportunity to take part in the training and practice was offered to all the girls on the move, that is, those from the refugee and migrant population, but also victims of human trafficking, returnees under the readmission agreement, and girls in the street situation. Through learning enjoying tasty food and teamwork, the girls learned the skills they can not only stand behind but also use as a reference for future employment," Marijana Savić concluded. She also added that organisation Atina owes particular gratitude to colleagues from the Maternal home, Centre for the Protection of Trafficking Victims, and Belgrade Centre for Human Rights, as well as the Local Anti-Trafficking Teams throughout Serbia who gave their selfless support in providing assistance to these girls during the entire project cycle.

The final, fourth, but no less significant pillar was dedicated to strengthening cooperation and exchange of knowledge and experience between Bosnia and Herzegovina (where Save the Children initially piloted this project) and Serbia. "The problems we are facing in both countries are similar, given that migratory route leads through Serbia to Bosnia, and that we are sharing similar support and protection systems, and that this experience is particularly connecting us," stated Savić, adding that it is necessary for this cooperation to strengthen further and to create a mechanism for the exchange of information that will provide privacy and data confidentiality for girls and women on the move, but also secure a sufficient amount of information that would enable continuous support. At the end of the conference, everyone present was invited to join a peaceful protest that would take place on October 2, at 2 PM, in front of the Embassy of Iran, to support all the women and girls in this country, under the slogan "Woman, life, freedom".

The conference "How we are creating better opportunities and chances for girls on the move" was held within the project implemented by organisations Atina and Save the Children, which is supported by the Swedish Save the Children, and relies on the ideas proclaimed by the most popular literary heroine of the Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren, Pippi Longstocking. Both organisations have been investing efforts for years now to improve the position of girls on the move, through the provision of direct assistance and support that is adapted to their needs. Within the "Pippi of Today" project, numerous activities have been conducted to provide comprehensive support to these girls in exercising their rights, but also in advocacy activities directed toward the improvement of their position.