We have traditionally marked the end of the ninth cycle of the “Share Your Knowledge” program with a mentor walk. We traveled with participants and alumni of the program through Knez Mihailova Street, via King Peter Street, to the Cultural Center “Grad”, with the aim of pointing out the importance of the concept of mentoring and women’s empowerment.
The discussion was moderated by Zorana Milovanovic, project manager of the Program and participants were Dragana Jevtic, founder of Creative Mentoring, Oliver Popovic, from the Association of Business Women, Biljana Malentin, from the Academy of Women’s Leadership, and Kosana Becker, on the Mentoring Program for Women with Disabilities. The role and importance of mentoring was discussed, as well as various programs that create value for the women’s community through the implementation of mentoring. The conclusion was that the cooperation created by the mentoring programs is very visible through the cooperation of the mentoring programs with one another. Finally, the final event included a fun atmosphere with the award of certificates and a musical accompaniment by the singer-songwriter Draga Mrvos Mott.
In the beginning, we introduced different types of successful mentoring programs. Biljana Malentin spoke about the Women’s Leadership Academy, stating that the goal was to set up a school for female politicians, who would connect and change the political environment together, to adapt it to the interests of women. Being a member of a political party is not easy, because of the lack of the right structure and the lack of knowledge transfer, but it is precisely after participating in this academy that women know how to proceed to change it.
Dragana Jevtic introduced us to the Creative Mentoring program, launched after the insight that a successful mentor is behind every successful person. This program brings together creatives, artists, people from the world of culture and media, and the focus is on them, because they are serious agents of change in society. The program also includes women and men, who connect with people from diverse sectors. The vision, Dragana says, is to respond to people’s needs, ready to invest in individuals who later contribute to society as a whole through their work.
Olivera Popovic also said that it was necessary to strengthen the mentoring community and that everyone needed a mentor. An informal type of mentoring exists among women, but Oliver and her associates are driven by a desire to see how they can work out the process. Thus, 15 years ago, the first project focused on women’s economic empowerment was created within the Association of Business Women. Adequate pairing with mentors is a key part of the project, because without “chemistry” it would not be successful. Complicating society requires change, which did not discourage Oliver, but inspired him to introduce newspapers such as group mentoring and e-mentoring.
Kosana Becker has a mentoring project for women with disabilities behind her, a very successful project, despite the difficulties she has with her. The starting positions of these women in the job market are very weak, and this inspired her and her team to launch this specific mentoring program. Another driver is the fact that these women are invisible to the public, which should not remain the case, and thus the importance of this project is growing even more.
Solidarity, as noted by Zorana Milovanovic, Project Coordinator, is what, despite the changes, remains a distinctive feature of mentoring. Mentoring builds a friendly relationship, mutual support, and at the very least makes work training. Our participants also agreed with this, of which Natasa Jancic spoke about the importance this project had on her by “restoring her confidence and bringing her back to the world”. Zivana Zivanovic, who speaks from a Roma position in politics, says her involvement has helped her overcome her insecurities and, as such, be empowered to bring about change.
Some of the messages for the end of our panelists were that we should continue to cultivate a fruitful mentoring relationship in the future. The dissemination of knowledge and curiosity must not be left out, and the future rests only on such empowered, capable and autonomous women, who see the world wide open.
After the discussion and the awarding of the certificate, the summing up of the impressions was followed by the musical accompaniment of Dear Mrvos Mott.
A competition for a new, tenth generation of trainees seeking mentoring support is open by November 30th. All women, ready to further their learning by learning this way, are encouraged to apply. The program gives special support to female entrepreneurs in agriculture and Roma women.