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Youth participation for a better and more just society

PODGORICA, 22 May 2018 – Young people in Montenegro want to actively participate in society and to be asked about the issues that matter to them. This is evident from the experience of many adolescents who participated in the initiatives of the UNICEF's Youth Innovation Lab, which has been operational in Montenegro for two years now.

UNICEF Regional Director Afshan Khan speaking with Montenegrin adolescents about the challenges they face and the possible solutions in Podgorica in May 2018, UNICEF Montenegro / Dusko Miljanic / 2018

The UNICEF Representative in Montenegro, Osama Khogali, advised young people never to underestimate their capabilities. "Even though we know that your future is in our hands today, we definitely know that our future is in your hands. So, speak up, fight for your rights, because you are the future," Khogali said.

The UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia, Afshan Khan, began her first official visit to this country with a reception with young people in order to hear first-hand from them about the challenges they face and the possible solutions.

Bullying and violence against children, derelict playgrounds and a lack of youth centres are just some of the problems that young people have identified so far and are working to overcome in their local communities.

Sixteen-year-old Đorđe from Cetinje was part of a team dealing with violence in schools. They founded a mediation club to support victims of violence and to organize discussions with the perpetrators. Đorđe points out that his participation in the UPSHIFT workshop was of particular importance for his personal development: "I have learned how to think better, to be better at problem-solving, to take both sides into consideration and to see which is better and more useful."

Seventeen-year-old Lazar from Podgorica says that his participation in “Hackathon”, a workshop where new technologies are used to design solutions to problems in local communities, has helped him discover the power of teamwork.

UNICEF Regional Director Afshan Khan and UNICEF Montenegro Representative Osama Khogali speaking with Montenegrin adolescents at a Youth reception in Podgorica in May 2018, UNICEF Montenegro / Dusko Miljanic / 2018

"We managed to quickly get from an idea to its realization, because everyone did their part of the job and in the end, like a jigsaw puzzle, we connected together everything we did," Lazar explained. His team at Hackathon made an application for saving money in order to improve financial literacy among young people.

Fourteen-year-old Nevena from Mojkovac was part of a team which initiated the cleaning up of a local children's playground: "What impressed me the most was the path that led us from the idea to its implementation. I realized that hard work is the true key to unlocking our abilities."

Nineteen-year-old Hana from Tuzi, together with her peers, came up with idea of making her high school a more pleasant environment for both learning and socializing.

"I realized that, even though I am young, my voice does really matter and it will continue to matter if we have organizations like this supporting us," Hana said.

With the support of UNICEF and its partners, through UPSHIFT, Hackathon, U-Report and various Youth Innovation Lab workshops, young people throughout Montenegro are developing 21st century skills, coming together to solve the problems they face in their local communities and are contributing to building a better, more just society – for every child.



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