Tatjana Obradović Tošić, a consultant
To me, the Center for Girls is a center of my feminism. It is a center which pulls me back to female solidarity, support, understanding and joint learning. The girls from the Center provide that sense of security that you need when you do things not only in the wrong but in the right way as well. As we come from different worlds, me from my private world, and they from the activist one, it is wonderful how our feminisms keep the same track towards the same goals. Together, we change the world for the better and the strength we carry along is fascinating.
Besara Podgorica, an activist of ”Gruaja Tek Gruaja”, Albania
The Center for Girls has delivered a new Balkanian impulse to the activist spirit of young feminists, associating them into the Regional Young Feminist Network and keeping the joint struggle alive in this area. The goal of such networking is to ensure coordination and cooperation among the youth, who has to know and believe each other in order to succeed in meeting the needs of their community. Our activities within the network do not only involve joint initiatives concerning women's right, but also participation in panel discussions, trainings and feminist festivals organized by the Center for Girls. Apart from the experience gained, the importance of this cooperation is also reflected in the mutual support in the context of identified targets through strong commitment and active engagement in our communities. Woman to Woman Organization from Shkoder, which is also a member of this network, collected and distributed a lot of information which, thanks to the similar backgrounds that we come from, formulated our challenges and ideas. The Center for Girls provided necessary expertise which enhanced our integration into this network. It is important to note that this reinforced cooperation also led to joint street actions and initiatives, as well as attempts to apply for joint projects. We have managed to build mutual trust and strategic network which surpasses the limits in innovative ways. We appreciate the contribution made by the differences and ideas of the youth, and we will keep on expanding the views by conceiving further actions and instruments which bring social changes and fight for human rights. Joint struggle continues in each of us individually.
Aleksandra Mirić, an artist
They brought us together to paint – each of us having a different sensibility, different views out of the window and to her own nature. And then we learned things that helped us become aware of the substance surrounding us, re-examine traditional discourses and call them by their real name. We shared personal stories, emotions, experiences and adventures. We stood by each other, and inspiration and ideas we shared spun an invisible web which made us stronger, and will continue to do so. And, truth be told, we painted. Our works were formally and substantially different, but their common feature was openness to investigating and empowering our own female identity. The Center helped us realize that our art had already been socially engaged, encouraged us to move on and support one another. Thank you.
Zana Hodža Krasnići, a director
Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if you had a big organization employing 20 or more people, but at other times I think the things are better this way, it is better to have a smaller organization but connected to the community the way you are. The Center constantly evolves as well as my cooperation with Tanja. Even before our formal cooperation on the Forum theatre, Tanja and I were constantly in touch. I felt free to tell Tanja whatever was on my mind, and she was ready to accept my opinions without any judgement and without interpreting that as an attack on her organization. This is very rare – in regional cooperation, others would interpret such an act as a personal attack, nationalistic attack. So it doesn't matter... I come from Kosovo, you are from Serbia, but we have never considered similar things as a problem. Never. We considered ourselves as business partners and I appreciate you for that. You make an excellent team.
Sanja Solunac, a visual artist and activist
Cooperation with the Center for Girls spurs me to constantly learn and try to be better and more diligent. The girls I meet and work with remind me all the time that I am not alone and that I will always have support from true friends who are good persons acutely aware of social behaviour and injustices that surround us.
Natalija Pljaskić, SOS Helpline for Women and Children Victims of Violence
Cooperation with the Center for Girls has provided me with acquaintances and team work which reflects the solidarity among us. We gain new experiences and expand our knowledge on the common topics and ideas we jointly advocate for. With each joint activity, I increase my self-confidence and my own capacities, as well as the capacities of my organization.
Vildana Džekman, CURE Foundation activist
Every year, the Center for Girls from Niš visits PitchWise Festival of Women's Art and Activism organized by CURE Foundation. As an activist and feminist of CURE Foundation, I met some of their members at one of those occasions. Soon I received an invitation to visit ArtFemine Festival. On my way to Niš, I was not aware of what ArtFemine would mean to me. Feminist environment with opportunities to make new friends, kept until today, are just a small part of what ArtFemine offers. After that, I met those same women, my feminist and activist friends, in other cities in the region. We supported each other in the struggle for freedom and resistance to patriarchy. I will always remember Niš for its public protest against all kinds of violence. A public protest in the street, defiance against subordination and invisibility of us, women. The Center for Girls shifted that "center" into the streets, just as Virginia Woolf wrote: "As a woman, I have no country. As a woman, my country is the whole world". At this moment, as I sit and write down my reflections on the Center for Girls while travelling to Banja Luka, I remember our dance at the festival. I remember the feeling of freedom and love to myself and every part of my body, even the most hidden one. If somebody asked me what is the first association that the Center for Girls evokes, I would say ArtFemine, and ArtFemine is an inevitable association for "feminism". My return to Sarajevo did not mean a break-up, but, on the contrary, constant follow-up. I continued to follow the work of these amazing women on social networks. Their incessant rebellion in the streets of Niš. Weather has never been an obstacle to these fascinating women. I was always wondering how they felt inside while holding the banners in the rain or temperatures below zero. My dear friends, as I write this, I feel enthusiastic to see you again soon. At the place which has become the place of struggle for acknowledging our existence. And you, you have remained true to yourselves and to what is feminist, strong and free. I embrace you for the feminist freedom and love that you live.
Emilija Miljković, a photographer
While cooperating with the Center for Girls for three-four years now, I have met hard-working, brave, creative women who are willing and eager to point out to the problems that surround us, and which are mostly ignored, and to find solutions for those problems... Their positive energy and activism have become an integral part of my own struggle to make this society a better place without prejudices, violence and hate. Our cooperation has enriched me both personally and professionally, and I am glad that my work can contribute to this great team.
Ivana Stanković, graphic artist
My cooperation with the Center for Girls began in 2014 within 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign. This cooperation was important to me personally, but also to the students of the school where I teach (Art High-School in Niš). Ten of my students and I participated in an art workshop concerning the struggle against gender-based violence. After the workshop, a panel discussion was held – the prevention of digital violence and human trafficking. I was very glad to be in the audience, I was delighted with the speakers and the way they presented the problem to young people from high-schools. Then, we started making plans for the first Feminist Art Colony. Boundless energy, strength and willingness on the part of the girls from the Center proved that a seven-day colony involving ten young artist could be organized in a very short time. Excellent exhibition!!! And so, our cooperation continues... "(UN)safe", Forum theatre performance... Superb! Bravo! Ten Art School students saw the performance, and all students in the school talked about it the day after... Today, at times of violence, hate and all things bad, I look forward to each action of the Center for Girls. They mean a lot to young people, professors, young artists and all people who are against any form of violence.
Hristina Piskulidis, IT consultant
I heard about the Center a long time ago, maybe a year or two after they had been founded, thanks to my friends in the activist circles. At that time, it could not be predicted that the Center would come of age, but it was nice knowing that there was a place in Niš where girls and young women could get together, educate, hang out and feel safe. Today, 18 years after their foundation, and after over 1.500 empowering workshops, several festivals of women's activism and art, loads of successful projects and tens of street actions, I can say that Niš is lucky to have such a strong, visible, fearless women's group, which, via almost everyday interventions in real time, place and lives of young women, makes small but important footsteps in the struggle for women's human rights and against patriarchy, conventions, imposed roles and stereotypes. The Center for Girls is certainly the most visible women's organization in Niš and the first place young women will come across if they are interested in improving women's, and consequently their own position in the society. And this is good – because the Center can make you feel welcome, accepted and on your own! I have been cooperating with the activists of the Center for six years, starting from the first FemiNiš Festival. The types of our cooperation changed, but friendliness, solidarity and support, both professional and personal, have stayed the same, and I am very thankful for that.
Dragana Jovanović, Actress
I want to point out that I really believe that the work done by the Center for Girls is ethical and genuine, done with a lot of love and sacrifice, a lot of patience, and constant education of oneself and others. It is a sanctuary for many women who face different obstacles or inconveniences, myself included. Without the Center for Girls or Tanja, I might not have experienced much of my creative work and life. The Center for Girls is where I will always be met with understanding, support, a hug, and warmth, for which I am grateful.
Silvija Mihajlovic, Activist
The Center is the place where girls grow up and shape their personalities. I would love for every city to have such a place because once we are aware of our rights and empowered by gaining the knowledge or support of other girls and women, most of us will have the strength to raise our voices, stand up, and fight for ourselves. Thanks to many workshops, acquaintances, friends I made, and stories I heard, the confidence I got to do most of the things which used to seem unachievable to me, such as: running workshops, conferences, giving public speeches, as well as choosing good people and partners, and setting boundaries.
Ana Mirkailo, Activist and Peer-Educator
This wonderful family, which I have happily chosen for myself, gave me the love that doesn’t exist in patriarchy: it is, above all, the love shared by women by which we say that we aren’t perfect but promise that we will be there to support each other when making decisions regarding our lives. The love one woman gives to another is transformative as it isn’t based on an ultimatum and has nothing to do with sexuality, ethnicity, gender, or any other kind of boundary. I am deeply convinced that feminist love transforms the feelings of pain and destruction that result from competing with one another into life-changing energy and strengthens our faith in ourselves and our own capacities to be unconditionally and genuinely accepted. Feminism taught me that I have the right to say NO loudly whenever and wherever, no matter what others may think of that: that I, Ana, have the right not to hide behind a smile and not to forgive when hurt. I learned that it is possible to be an artist, inspiration, rebel, and be loved by another human being and that all of these don’t exclude one another.
Mila Stanojević, Activist
Five years ago, I came to the Center for Girls for the first time, and I believe that it is one of the best decisions I have ever made. The numerous training sessions I attended, and experiences I gained at the Center for Girls helped me work on myself and become much more satisfied with who I am, in addition to dismantling my previous prejudices and introducing me to the world of feminism. Before coming to the Center, I couldn’t imagine talking in front of a lot of people, but today I am a peer educator and one of the participants in the plays organized by the Center for Girls.
I have met wonderful girls, women, and activists at the Center, who have taught me what female solidarity is and how important it is to stick together because No woman is a wolf to another woman. I am immensely grateful that such an organization exists and that I am a part of it.
Nevena Mitić, Associate
Coming across the Center for Girls meant a lot to me, with women from my hometown, Niš, and seeing a non-governmental organization that dealt with topics regarding the abuse women suffer. Had they existed when it happened to me, maybe things would be different or easier. I understand very well how important it is for women to have someone or an organization that empowers and supports them and tells them: “You are not alone. How can we help you? Do you want to say something about the painful experience?”.