The Center for Girls deals with girls' empowerment through education, creativity and activism. When education is concerned, we prefer a workshop approach. Regardless of the workshop theme, our goal is to primarily work on the girls' empowerment and raising their self-confidence. Our workshops are always experiential in character and, for this reason, securing a safe space and time each girl has in the workshop are of extreme importance to us.
We do not practice organizing mixed workshops because, as a rule, they turn into something which is not supportive to girls. Naturally, boys should be educated as well, but they are not our target group and we do not do it. We are planning a cooperation with Be a Man Club, and with educated, sensitive individuals. Within this cooperation, educational workshops on certain subjects would be held simultaneously – we would work with girls and they with boys. Later in the process, we would arrange a meeting and jointly present what we learnt, discuss, organize a performance...
Workshops are a different way of working with people compared to what we are used to, especially in the process of formal education. That is clear to a great deal of people, but what only a small portion of people knows is that each workshop is unique, a story in itself. And that story begins with sitting down in a circle in which a workshop facilitator and participants are equal, and where we can all see and hear one another well. Everyone may, moreover it is desirable, to express their opinion on the workshop topic, but it is not obligatory if that topic is particularly painful or for any other reason. In that case, they can take advantage of the rule which permits them to say "next". That is where some rules of workshop approach start to apply, and one of them is that, when a person speaks, others should be silent, listen and not interrupt. It is extremely important that we hear one another because, in a workshop, there are no true and false answers, and each opinion matters. Evaluation, that is, the assessment of a workshop, is an important part. The reason is that evaluation gives us, facilitators, a feedback on whether we have succeeded in looking into the subject of a workshop totally or only partially and whether our work, education through unrestrained communication, is recognized.
When I hold a workshop, I always start with the theme of the workshop in mind. I try to open a workshop with participants introducing themselves and with an interesting game. That always relaxes the participants and generates positive energy for the further work. I insist on sitting in a circle, active listening, confidentiality and anonymity.
I always try to follow up on the participants (group), their tempo, I try not to speed things up or slow them down. When I started holding workshops, I was afraid of the silence – what to do if they fall silent?! And then I realized that sometimes that was necessary, to give thoughts and emotions time to settle and find their expression, their right place and right time... I like to have the rule of saying "next" observed, and I've never had the problem with someone "abusing" that rule.
My goal is to look into the subject of a workshop and that the group together comes to conclusions by expressing their opinions or telling stories related to the subject.
I always ask for written evaluation, but I prefer oral ones and I try to hear them out as well when there's time.
All in all, I love working in workshops, both as a participant and as a facilitator. During workshops, I feel that each woman's story is equally valuable, which is very important keeping in mind the widespread discrimination of women in society. I enjoy doing workshops and I have to admit that it helped me personally the most to get to know myself and others
Violeta Stojadinović Zinovijev
Several tips for a successful workshop: