Youth speak out: ending sexual violence against women and girls

The WAVE Youth Ambassadors and youth activists from the Western Balkans and Türkiye have been raising their voices, amplifying youth voices, and speaking out against sexual violence during their cooperation with the Civil Society Strengthening Platform [1] and its partners.

Youth speaking out! Are YOU(TH)?

The WAVE Youth Ambassadors initiative was launched in 2018 with the aim to encourage as well as promote youth engagement, youth participation, and youth inclusion within the context of preventing violence against women and girls. The WAVE  Youth  Ambassadors,  a  conscious,  open-minded, and critical peer group of young activists from across Europe, are raising awareness of today’s challenges in combating violence against women and girls, promoting intergenerational dialogue, lobbying decision-makers at the European and at the national level from a youth perspective, and campaigning for the rights of women and girls as well as survivors of violence to access support and protection.

WAVE currently has 9 WAVE Youth Ambassadors with 3 of them representing the following Western Balkan countries:

Cecilia Gazuli, Albania
Zvezdana Radulović, Montenegro
Teodora Stojilković, Serbia

In May, an open call for 5 youth activists from Albania,  Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo *, Montenegro, North  Macedonia,  Serbia, and Türkiye was launched to work with WAVE Youth Ambassadors during June and July 2022 on spreading effective and targeted messages among young people on how to prevent and respond to sexual violence.

The selected youth activists represent 3 of the 7 CSSP project countries:

Arlind Shazi and Ilvana Dedja, Albania
Marija Mijušković, Montenegro
Rukija Husović and Velimir Milošev, Serbia

Together, the WAVE Youth Ambassadors and youth activists worked on three informative and engaging videos based on the recommendations identified in the policy paper ‘Promising Practices of establishing and providing specialist support services for women experiencing sexual violence. A legal and practical overview for women’s NGOs and policy makers in the Western Balkans and Turkey’ addressing sexual violence. The videos were created in the ambassadors’ and activists’ respective languages, and to target a wider audience and increase the visibility of the issue, English subtitles were added to the videos.

WAVE Youth Ambassador from Albania Cecilia Gazulli and youth activists Ilvana Dedja and Arlind Shazi visualise what goes through the mind of someone experiencing violence and abuse. The message is clear and simple: seeking support is life-changing and life-saving!

Teodora Stojilković and youth activists Velimir Milošev and Rukija Husović visualise power and control as the motives behind sexual violence. The video shows that sometimes it’s hard for a person experiencing violence to see the violence, which is why it is key that their environment is supportive.

WAVE Youth Ambassador Zvezdana Radulović and youth activist Marija Mijusković bring the issue of sexual violence in Montenegro closer to the viewer and share key information and resources. 

The overall aim of this collaboration was to provide youth with a better understanding of violence against women including sexual violence, and the current legislation and structures in place to prevent such violence in the region of the Western Balkans and Türkiye. Furthermore, the WAVE Youth Ambassadors and youth activists aimed at highlighting the presence and importance of specialist support services for women and girls who are survivors of sexual violence.

The videos along with country-specific resources gathered by the ambassadors and activists can be found on WAVE’s social media accounts Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Thank you to WAVE Youth Ambassadors Cecilia Gazuli, Zvezdana Radulović, Teodora Stojilković, and youth activists Arlind Shazi, Ilvana Dedja, Marija Mijušković, Rukija Husović and Velimir Milošev for their contributions!

[1] The Civil Society Strengthening Platform (CSSP) is part of the three-year programme, ‘Implementing Norms, Changing Minds’, funded by the European Union and UN Women, which aims at ending gender-based discrimination and violence against women in the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia) and Türkiye, with a particular focus on the most disadvantaged groups of women.