The Young European Ambassadors continue their unique series of online events! Following their online event management webinar, the YEAs have bravely taken on the role of event creators, and have come up with topics that are of high interest to young people across the Western Balkans – the EU, culture, environment, human rights, economy, and youth engagement.
Between December 2020 and March 2021, young people from the Western Balkans, the EU, and the world will be able to tune in and participate in these creative, tailor-made YEA webinars. We have taken you to the world of EU, environment protection and cultural diversity. Now it is time to act!
In today’s world where every bright mind counts, it is more important than ever to celebrate and support women in all spheres of life and leadership: culture, economy, social policy, art, politics, IT and technology, medicine… The Western Balkans have done a lot in last decades to bring female energy and wisdom to the stage. YEAs now wish to send a message to all the young women and girls out there – the stage does belong to you!
In our 5th event in the series of events made by YEAs we will introduce you to extraordinary women from the Western Balkans –presenting real life stories of successful businesswomen, NGO leaders, journalists, doctors, scientists, athletes, writers, musicians and other strong women who will show that any dream you set your mind to – you can achieve.
Liselotte Isaksson, Head of Sector – Civil Society and Social Inclusion, Western Balkans Regional Cooperation and Programmes, DG NEAR, European Commission
Sehija Dedović, Executive Director of the Center for Education and Research Nahala, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Mirishahe Syla, Researcher and Gender Advisor, Kosovo
Erisa Zemzađa, Young European Ambassador, Albania
Milica Crkvenjakov, Writer and blogger “Draga Devojcice”, Serbia
Uta Ibrahimi, Environmentalist, Kosovo
Sanja Gardasevic, Executive Director of digital marketing agency Alicorn, Montenegro
Ana Shkreli, Founder of Berk Publishing House, Albania
Dado Dervanovic, Young European Ambassador, Montenegro
An economist by training, Ms Isaksson has spent most of her career in the European Commission’s external relations family, where she has covered a broad range of themes and geographical areas. She has worked on mainstreaming environment in EU development cooperation; EU support to commodity dependent countries; and EU aid for trade, with a focus on the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. In the aftermath of the Arab spring, she worked on regional cooperation in the Southern Neighbourhood, covering topics such as energy, environment, and transport, as well as cooperation with the Union for the Mediterranean. Currently she is Head of Sector for Civil Society, Social Inclusion and Human capital, in DG NEAR’s unit for Western Balkans Regional Cooperation and Programmes.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
After high school graduation in Sarajevo, Sehija fled to Croatia as a refugee from war and spent time volunteering and working in the humanitarian and educational sphere with refugees in camps and hospitals. In 1993, she continued studying abroad and upon returning to Bosnia and Herzegovina engaged in the development of post-conflict civil society working at grassroots level. With some great and enthusiastic young activists, she founded the Center for Education and Research “Nahala”, dedicated to build higher standard of life for women through education and provision of other means of support for women. Today, “Nahala” is present in three towns in Bosnia and Herzegovina, offering women research and educational programmes. Sehija is also a board member of several international NGOs, participant and speaker in seminars and trainings in the field of women’s rights and human rights in general. Sehija was also a speaker at a UN panel dedicated to women’s role in preserving peace in the world. The panel was held during the 73rd General Assembly annual meeting in New York.
Mirishahe was born and raised in Lipjan. She is a student of gender issues. Her focus is preventing gender-based violence. Syla earned a master’s degree in women’s and gender studies from the University of Northern Iowa. Currently, she is engaged as a consultant at the Kosovar Gender Studies Center, in Pristina. Growing up in a small village, Syla became interested in the extreme differences she noticed in the perception of the progression of women’s rights in Pristina compared to elsewhere in Kosovo. During her studies, she worked as a research assistant at the Centre for Violence Prevention, Cedar Falls, Iowa, USA. Upon her return to Kosovo, she began advocating for the inclusion and support of rural women, whose needs, she believes, are often overlooked by feminists in urban areas.
Erisa Zemzadja holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Sciences and International Relations from Bahcesehir University, Turkey. She did her Erasmus programme in Antwerp, Belgium, where she had the opportunity to acquire a deeper understanding of European Union institutions, decision-making processes, policies, and values. Following graduation, she moved to Belgium to carry out a master’s degree in Political Science at Université Libre de Bruxelles. Following her studies, she began working in the Brussels’ non-profit sector to advocate for the rights of various groups facing inequalities, towards promoting a more inclusive society through the empowerment of women. She is currently based in Tirana, where she is a political research contributor on the Western Balkan region for Forum für Mittelost und Südosteuropa. As a Young European Ambassador, she is devoted to advocating for gender equality and power in young women.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Lana Bastašić was born in Zagreb in 1986. She majored in English and holds a master’s degree in cultural studies. She has published two collections of short stories, one book of children’s stories and one of poetry. Catch the Rabbit, her first novel, was published in Belgrade in 2018 and reprinted in Sarajevo in 2019. It was shortlisted for the 2019 NIN award and was translated into Catalan and Spanish in 2020. Her short stories have been included in regional anthologies and magazines throughout the former Yugoslavia. She has won Best Short Story at the Zija Dizdarević competition in Fojnica; the Jury Award at the ‘Carver: Where I’m Calling From’ festival in Podgorica; Best Short Story at the Ulaznica festival in Zrenjanin; Best Play by a Bosnian Playwright (Kamerni teatar 55) in Sarajevo and the Targa Unesco Prize for poetry in Trieste. In 2016, she co-founded Escola Bloom in Barcelona and she co-edits the school’s literary magazine Carn de cap. She is one of the creators of the ‘3+3 sisters’ project, which aims to promote women writers of the Balkans.
Milica Crkvenjakov once used to be a video game designer; now she is a writer and a blogger under the brand „Draga Devojcice“. Aged 24, she is currently enrolled in the Academy of Arts at the University of Novi Sad, where she is studying game design. Combining her passions for video games and writing, she started a blog „Roditelji Gejmera“ (Gamers’ Parents), dedicated to explaining to parents what their children are playing. More influential has been her project „Draga Devojcice“, a social media brand conceived around the idea of explaining all parts of growing up and being a woman that a younger Milica would like to have known.
Flutura Ibrahimi, better known as Uta Ibrahimi, was born in the city of Gjilan, Kosovo. She began her career as a marketing specialist but has also worked on human rights-based social projects. Uta has also worked as marketing manager, jury member, and event organiser for DokuFest, a documentary film festival. In 2015 she left her career in marketing, to dedicate her energy to her passion for climbing. In 2016, she founded Butterfly Outdoor Adventures Company, with the aim to promote culture and tourism in Kosovo. Uta is the first Albanian woman to climb Mount Everest. After Mount Everest (22 May 2017), she has climbed Manasulu (8163m), Cho-Oyu (8201m), Lhotse (8516m) and Gasherburum (8080m), thus making her officially the first woman from the Balkans to summit 5×8000 metres peaks. Through her alpinism activities, and media appearances, Uta seeks to raise awareness about nature, the mountains, and human rights particularly in Kosovo and Albania. Uta is also a Sustainable Development Goals Champion, promoting gender equality, youth empowerment, and environmental preservation.
Sanja is the CEO of Alicorn, a full-service marketing agency that explores the balance between technology and human-based marketing. Passionate about changing the world for the better one step at a time, she is a Project Manager at Digitalizuj.Me, an NGO aiming to help citizens of Montenegro understand and realise exciting new opportunities for social change and business in the digital environment. Sanja is also a master of ceremonies and a member of the organising team of the Spark.me conference, one of the biggest tech/business events in South-East Europe, which has been organised annually in Budva, Montenegro, since 2013. Her academic achievements and community engagement led her to be recognised as a Chevening Scholar, which enabled her to pursue a master’s degree at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).
Ana is an experienced editor with a demonstrated history of working in the publishing industry and in the communications sector, offering counselling and effective solutions. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Literature and Cultural Heritage from the University of Bologna and a master’s degree in International Publishing from City University London. Her previous positions include also being a Communications advisor and press secretary to the Minister of State for the Protection of Entrepreneurship in Albania and a founding director of the first literary museum in Albania, Studio House Kadare. In July 2020, she decided to venture into the private sector and establish a sui generis private cultural centre called “Berk”, which is a publishing house, concept bookshop, co-working space, library, and an event venue.
Dado studies at the Faculty of Information Systems and Technology at the University of Donja Gorica. He says that before he was a shy child struggling with self-confidence and self-image issues but has grown to become a confident person who thrives in group environments, loves meeting different people, and getting to know diverse cultures. At the start of 2020, he decided that this would be the year that he does things which in the past, the ‘shy Dado’ would have never done. Some of these include: working at a job that demanded high social skills while speaking to customers, mountain climbing, bodybuilding, traveling more (this one had to be postponed!), and youth activism. He works as a teaching assistant at Digital Bee, a programming school for kids where learning basic programming is made fun.
Six young Roma women from Belgrade and six from Nis formed a band so that their desire for equality and freedom could be heard as far as possible. Pretty Loud is not only a women’s music group, it is also an important social project. Pretty Loud was created with the aim of providing young Roma women with equal rights and freedom. But, they are fighting for all the women of this world, not just Roma women -for women to have more self-confidence, them to believe in themselves, and not to doubt that what they are doing is not good and that it will not pay off. The band’s music is a combination of pop and rap sound with traditional Roma music, and the songs are written in three languages: Roma, Serbian and English. In their texts, they deal with issues such as child marriages or the inequality of women and men.