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International Conference in Belgrade, Serbia

International Conference of Women’s Network for Future of Europe project was held from June 12th to 14th in Belgrade, in the small hall of Kolarac Foundation and in the Official hall of City Municipality Savski venac. This conference delivered five panel discussions of international scope, presenting topics derived from four WONET seminars held in 2015 and 2016 in participating countries (Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Italy). This part of the project introduced new partnerships and provided a broader international participation from three more countries (Hungary, Greece and also Bosnia and Herzegovina).

1st panel discussion was titled PATRIARCHAL CULTURE AND VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN and it was moderated by Nina Ocko from partner organization CESI from Zagreb. It took place on June 13th in Kolarac Foundation. Panelists were: Tanja Ignjatovic – Autonomni Ženski Centar, Belgrade, Serbia; Jadranka Vukovic – Centar za socijalnu skrb, Krapina, Croatia; Eleni Laourasi – Municipality of Thesaloniki, Greece; Amra Kadic – Fondacija Lokalne Demokratije, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina; Sanja Kovacevic – Feministički kolektiv fAKTIV, Zagreb, Croatia; Boza Hervatic - Associazione Terrasophia, Dolina -Trieste, Italy; Polona Kante Pavlin – Foundation BiT Planota, Nova Gorica, Slovenia.

Panelists presented all complexities of patriarchal culture and violence against women, outlining that the problem of patriarchal culture is that most forms of violence against women remain socially unrecognized in participating countries, especially among younger generations. Then examples were given of women activists campaigning publicly for authorities to deal with femicide and other forms of victimizing women based on their gender. Another interesting trend was discussed on this panel: even when there are laws designed to protect women from violence, application of such laws is scarce, meaning that patriarchal culture prevails with its practice of violence against women. The tone of the panel inspired an open discussion with the audience.

2nd panel discussion was titled TOY INDUSTRY AND GENDER STEREOTYPES and it was moderated by Bojan Milosavljevic, project coordinator from City Municipality Savski Venac as project responsible. The panel was delivered in Kolarac Foundation on June 13th.

Panelists were: Reka Csaba - International relations expert, Budapest, Hungary; Nadja Duhacek – Nauka je ženskog roda, Beograd, Serbia; Ana Dajic, Belgrade, Serbia; Jadranka Doljak Boskovic - Foundation BiT Planota, Nova Gorica, Slovenia; Sara Matijacic – Associazione Terrasophia, Dolina -Trieste, Italy.

Panelists presented gender stereotyping by toy industries, by kinds of games played by girls and boys. This led to an understanding to which kind of social behavior girls and boys are directed from earliest age. Special attention was paid to Lego industry, which issues series of Lego for boys and other series for girls.

Nevertheless, this panel also presented alternatively produced toys in makerspaces (3D print) and alternatively designed memory game for children. Both proved to be more creative and free of stereotypes. The discussion with the audience then followed.

3rd panel discussion was titled FEMINISM BELONGS IN HIGH SCHOOL and it was moderated by Nadja Duhacek from The Gender of Science is Female from Belgrede. This panel also took place on June 13th in Kolarac Foundation. Panelists were: Jelena Ceriman – Centar za etiku, pravo i primenjenu filozofiju (CELAP), Serbia; Alice Bruni - Consorzio Comunit Solidale (CCS), Padova, Italy; Tena Mustac – Association TRIM, Hvar, Croatia; Sanja Kovacevic – Feministički kolektiv fAKTIV, Zagreb, Croatia; Minja Bogavac – Centar E8, Belgrade, Serbia.

Panel opened with personal experiences of gender discrimination in high school environments. Then it presented a wide range of problems in educational systems, as well as problems in both official and hidden curricula taught in schools. Panelists also presented possible ways of introducing changes in educational systems in order to achieve gender equality in high schools. The panel continued with a vivid discussion between audience and panelists, where first person experiences continued to give fruitful insights into situations in schools, as well as ideas how to improve those situations.

4th panel discussion was titled WHOSE INTERESTS WOMEN REPRESENT IN THE PARLIAMENTS? and it was moderated by Biljana Vasic Zarkovic from newspaper VREME. This was the last panel on June 13th, also in Kolarac Foundation. Panelists were: Gordana Stevanovic – Deputy Ombudswoman, Serbia; Reka Csaba - International relations expert, Budapest, Hungary; Danijela Mirjanic – City Municipality Savski venac, Serbia; Ljubica Dijanosic - Association TRIM, Hvar, Croatia; Snezana Jakovljevic – Association of women Pescanik, Krusevac, Serbia.

The panel presented very different angles and experiences on the topic “Whose interests women represent in the parliament?” Panelists gave an overview of problems concerning women agenda and women political representatives. Issues that occurred are complex: from lack of education and information among women representatives in parliaments, agendas of political parties that come above women agenda, very competitive mail domination in parliaments which is discriminating women, to system problems that disable existing instruments in protecting women and advocating for them.

The overall tone of the panel, especially throughout the open discussion with the audience, was that women feel underrepresented in parliaments and that they have more hope to achieve their influence through civil sector. At the same time, it was outlined in the panel that the civil society organizations need to lead a constant process of education of women politicians on gender issues, and enable a broader solidarity among women politicians, regardless what party they are in.

5th panel discussion was titled INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S SOLIDARITY AND THE IDEA OF EUROPEAN CITIZENSHIP and it was moderated by Bojan Milosavljevic, coordinator of WONET project. This panel discussion took place in Official hall of City Municipality Savski venac, on June 14th.

Panelists were: Darijan Krpan – Foundation BiT Planota, Nova Gorica, Slovenia; Anna Corbatto - Associazione Terrasophia, Dolina - Trieste, Italy; Danijela Mirjanic – City Municipality Savski venac, Serbia; Ljubica Dijanošić – Association TRIM, Hvar, Croatia.

The panel delivered as announced: “… The idea of European citizenship is based on gender equality as a fundamental value. The theme of the panel discussion was perspectives of women from the region to build a feminist identity and solidarity at EU level. What are the policies and measures needed to develop the solidarity of women in the region?” The discussion then continued among panelists and audience about the WONET project, as an example of implementation of European policies for building a European citizenship through the development of regional women’s solidarity.

The panel overviewed both challenges before the network of solidarity and achievements of the project so far. This session concluded the WONET International Conference.