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Study tour to Belgrade, Serbia: November 25-29, 2021

On November 25-29, the Women’s Fund Armenia team paid a study visit to Belgrade, Serbia. The purpose of the visit was to get acquainted with local women’s organizations and activists, to learn from their experience, and exchange experiences.

In Belgrade, we were hosted by our colleagues from the Reconstruction Women’s Fund. The Women’s Fund Armenia cooperates with the latter within the framework of the Prospera International Network of Women’s Funds. The Reconstruction Fund provided its premises and organized meetings for us with representatives of various organizations.

On November 25, we met with Nađa Bobičić, a representative of the Center for Women’s Studies. The latter told us about the work of the Center. It was especially exciting to hear about their online course, Feminist Digital School. The school focuses on theoretical knowledge on feminism for women and girls as well as men. Participants have the opportunity to develop their academic knowledge of feminism and its different directions, learn to write texts, organize discussions, etc.

The next meeting was with Mirko Medenica from The Centre for Public History. It’s a civic association founded by historians, dealing with the past experts and human rights activists, with the aim of – promoting the application of history in the service of society, in order to develop critical thinking about the course of history and key issues related to understanding the present; – empowering the development of a culture of peace and a society based on solidarity, responsibility and equality, starting from the civil interpretation of historical experiences; – fighting for preserving the culture of remembrance through commemorative practices and marking the killing sites.

The day ended with a visit to the Women in Black. There we met Stanislava (Staša) Zajović, the founder. The organization was founded in 1991 against militarism and for the protection of women’s rights. Staša’s path, her and her peers’ relentless struggle for justice and fairness is really inspiring and admirable. The organization focuses on organizing education on peace, documenting women’s alternative history, fighting against nationalism and sexism.

On November 26, we met with Jelena Memet, the founder of the Alternative Women’s Center. The Center organizes workshops for teenagers and young people, addressing issues such as transitional justice, fascism and nationalism. In addition, the Center fights violence against women in Serbia.

We had a separate discussion with our host organization – Reconstruction Women’s Fund. Djurdja Trajković and Galina Maksimović told us about the organization’s policies, grant program directions, application review processes, program monitoring, and impact measurement. 

On November 29, we visited the Human Rights House Belgrade, where the representatives of the organization introduced us to the activities of the human rights organizations involved. Thanks to them, we learned about the current situation of human rights defenders and activists in Serbia, the gaps and obstacles in the law, and the political situation of the country.

Overall, the study tour was very productive as we learned various ways of overcoming challenges from our Serbian partners. We noticed many similarities between Armenia and Serbia; similarity of activist environment, the challenges of NGOs, and anti-gender campaigns against the feminist movement.