On the International Youth Day 2020, we are highlighting worldwide the engagement of young people at the local, national and global levels. On 12 August, we are also launching our WAVE Youth Ambassador series entitled THE POWER OF YOUTH to shed light on the importance of youth inclusion in feminist movements and the fight against gender-based violence. Zvezdana Radulovic, 2nd generation WAVE Youth Ambassador from Montenegro, shares her story about being a young activist.
My name is Zvezdana Radulovic and I am from Montenegro. I am a student of Political Science in Podgorica, Montenegro. This year, I became a Youth Ambassador of WAVE, which is something that I am so proud of at this moment.
Something that marked the beginning of my youth activism is definetely becoming a volunteer at the NGO Women’s Safe House. As a 18 year old young woman, I was striving for making a positive impact in my society, so I started volunteering in an organization that has 20 years of experience in combating violence against women and girls in Montenegro. For me, it was huge honor to be given the opportunity to be responsible for something like working with someone who went through violence, as it is a very sensitive topic. During my very first days, I was listening to the stories of women and girls who have gone through some kind of violence, which slowly opened up a new dimension to me regarding this issue and how serious and real it is. Therefore, it is necessary to work against gender-based violence 24 hours a day, every day, tirelessly! After being part of this organization and their workshops, trainings, giving classes to the children placed in shelters and more, I was gaining experience and most importantly I was growing as a person. The organization has shelter for women and girls who have been victims of domestic violence, and their kids. Everything I thought I knew before that was nothing compared to actually listening to someone’s story of being a survivor of domestic violence, or just being there with kids that mostly are not aware what they have been through. I then realized that, at the end of the day, when you actually contribute to someone’s life in a positive way, even if you think it is not something big and it is just as simple as listening to the person, it is the best and most rewarding feeling in the world.
After one year of volunteering as a student mentor, activist and office assistant, I started working as an administrative assistant at the very same organisation, NGO Women’s Safe House. Words could not describe my happiness, when I was offered to work with them. At that point, I was 19 years old, and to be given that kind of responsibility and them having confidence in me was something that meant a lot to. Now I am 21 and I am still working in this field of supporting women and girls who have been victims of violence in Montenegro. Through various projects and activities in the organisation, we contribute to raising awareness about the need to speak more about gender-based violence and actually doing something against it.
My message to all the young people would be that no matter how young you might be or how insecure you are, there is always a place for you to be active and to be someone who will make positive change! I was insecure and shy, but you need to push yourself into something you are afraid of and something amazing will happen afterwards!
Author: 2nd generation WAVE Youth Ambassador from Montenegro, Zvezdana Radulovic