Serbian youth take the lead in promoting healthy relationship behaviours


Youth ambassadors in Serbia harnessed their creativity and acting skills to produce a video on changing harmful attitudes in relationships. The students are part of the Youth Ambassadors for Ending Violence against Women, a campaign implemented by the Center of Modern Skills under the EU-UN Women regional programme on ending violence against women in the Western Balkans and Turkey, “Implementing Norms, Changing Minds,” funded by the European Union.

Don’t burn yourself! That’s the central message of an awareness-raising video produced by youth ambassadors from the Belgrade municipality of Stari Grad, Serbia. The video follows the story of a young man trying to enter into a relationship with a young woman in all the wrong ways – and how he comes to change his behaviour. The story is meant to educate young adults on harmful behaviours that are “normalized,” including harassment, and how these attitudes can be changed.

The actors and production team are part of “Youth ambassadors for ending violence against women,” a project led by the Center of Modern Skills (Centar Modernih Veština; CMV) operating in four municipalities of Serbia. The youth ambassador programme works with 50 secondary school students in these municipalities, primarily young men. Participants are educated about violence against women and gender equality and are encouraged to become agents of change within their own communities by developing and launching their own awareness raising projects.

The video is one of the projects created through this initiative, all of which were informed by the results of a survey sent to girls about behaviours or attitudes they find harmful. The initiative also brings boys and girls together to have frank conversations about the negative effects of these behaviours.

 “What we wanted to achieve was to make young people, but also adults, aware of bad behaviour patterns, to make them try to change such behaviour, because neither men nor women deserve such cruel treatment,” said Mihajlo Cvetović, a youth ambassador from Paraćina, a municipality in central Serbia.

CMV’s project is among several innovative solutions being piloted in Serbia under the Gender Lab, a regional initiative that tests and implements campaigns to promote behaviour change to end violence and discrimination against women and girls. The Gender Lab is part of the EU-UN Women regional programme “Implementing Norms, Changing Minds.”