Youth education as the key to a more equal and just society - Club "With and for girls" from Belgrade

Feminist social transformation: Youth education as the key to a more equal and just society - Club "With and for girls" from Belgrade

"We notice the lack of room and interest of educational institutions to discuss with students the topic of violence, its causes and consequences, etc. There is no intention to update the topics of sexual and reproductive health or include them in the educational program. It is up to us to find a way to talk about it with our peers", says Anđela Bošković, representative of the club "With and for Girls" from Belgrade.

For now, the representatives of the club have formalised their cooperation with the Second School of Economics from Belgrade and started piloting the implementation of a series of peer workshops on the topic of gender equality, gender-based violence, and youth activism. "We sought an alliance among young people from our environment, as we want to show that these topics concern all of us," adds club member Marija Đurein.

In search of an alliance, over 20 members of the unique club "With and for Girls" gathered in Belgrade, weaving a network of changes, recognising and courageously facing daily challenges. Although they are high school and university students, they have already made significant efforts to share their knowledge and skills with their peers so that the allied fight for gender equality will be as effective as possible.

In the period from May to the beginning of November, girls and activists from Belgrade had the opportunity to attend a series of trainings and mentoring sessions during which they mainly focused on gender stereotypes, then women's reproductive health and digital violence with a particular focus on content such as revenge pornography, as well as other forms of online violence. Furthermore, through mentoring sessions, they practised negotiating and advocating positive changes in their respective communities. They came into contact with decision-makers and partners and slowly formed a strong base for a self-sustaining club.

The patriarchal society in which generations of women and girls are growing up not only positions men as the bearers of power but often results in the systemic exclusion of women from critical social processes, including decision-making. It has severe consequences for the development of society, contributing to the decline in the fields of economy, politics and culture while simultaneously limiting the potential of the entire society.

Change driven by women's needs and directed towards the transformation of social power ensures fairer access to women and girls and the construction of a more inclusive and sustainable society. Focusing on women's needs in transforming social power enables recognising and redressing systemic inequalities that women have historically experienced. This type of change aims to achieve equality for men and advocates for creating a broader and more significant room for women, considering different starting positions in the social hierarchy. This contributes to greater justice and enriches society with the wealth of diversity and perspectives that women bring to the decision-making process and the shaping of social values.

The struggle for the re-conquest and creation of women's spaces must be conducted both at the local level, as well as at the national level, using systemic and informal mechanisms that will enable the voice of women and girls to be heard and respected, as well as to create sustainable mechanisms for their equal participation in the processes of making important decisions.

The initiative "With and for Girls" gathered not only activists but also representatives of local youth and feminist organisations, as well as individuals who, in their daily activities, strive to break away from patriarchal society and offer better and fairer solutions for social transformation. This opened up the possibility for girls in five local communities in Serbia—Čačak, Vranje, Novi Pazar, Novi Sad, and Belgrade—to prioritise the problems faced by girls and advocate their placement on the agenda of decision-makers.

This news was created as part of the project "Initiative of young feminist advocates in Serbia", which has been implemented by the Citizens' Association Atina with the support of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Belgrade, in cooperation with the organisation Schüler Helfen Leben (SHL).