Conference #ACTIvation ACT Days 2023 in Pancevo

The conference #AKTivacija – “AKT Days 2023” started on June 1 at the Tamiš Hotel in Pancevo. This conference gathers more than 150 participants and represents a unique opportunity to meet, exchange experiences and network civil society organizations that operate throughout Serbia and are directly or indirectly supported within the AKT project. At the beginning, Richard Kohli, Head of Development Cooperation of the Embassy of Switzerland, Snežana Mišić Mihajlović, International Team Leader of the AKT Project, Maja Stojanović, Executive Director of Civic Initiatives addressed those present. The head of development cooperation of the Embassy of Switzerland, Richard Kohli, pointed out that significant results were achieved in the first phase, primarily at the local level. Examples include improving gender-based budgeting, increasing the number of women in local community councils, establishing youth councils in several cities and municipalities. ACT also supported the establishment of mechanisms in the field of environment, such as the “green chair” and air quality monitoring bodies, and at the same time social services were improved in certain areas. At the national level, women 45+ are recognized in the Gender Equality Strategy as a category that is difficult to employ, and a Draft Law on emergency aid was drafted and entered the parliamentary procedure. The international team leader of the AKT project, Snežana Mišić Mihajlović, highlighted three key words during the first phase of the AKT: adaptation, support and synergy. She stated that direct contact on the ground, quick reaction and adaptation is an example of good practice that I hope we will continue in the future. She said that in the two-day ACTIVATION the participants will have the opportunity to learn about regional trends when it comes to citizen participation, with new research and trends in Serbia, and to exchange experiences at thematic workshops through topics about youth, ecology, gender equality, social inclusion, mental health and human rights. The executive director of Civic Initiatives, Maja Stojanović, said that 7,000 people work in the civil sector and that the level of trust of citizens in the work of the civil sector increases every day, as well as that we can only fight for a better society in Serbia by united and joint forces. She emphasized that the thematic workshops planned after the panel should contribute to a better connection and cooperation of organizations. This year’s #AKTivation is dedicated to the greater mobilization of citizens, and the impression that emerges after numerous participants had the opportunity to listen to top experts as lecturers and panelists of the conference is even clearer: “It is necessary to interest the decision-makers, the media even more, and involve citizens in the processes of decision-making at the local level, work on improving the perception of the importance of civil society and mutual trust.” The project “AKT-Together for an active civil society” is a four-year project supported by the Swiss Government, and implemented by Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation and Civic Initiatives from Belgrade. Started in September 2019, AKT is completing its first phase in September this year, and is preparing for the next four-year phase. The goal of the project is to create and strengthen an active civil society in which citizens participate more in the decision-making process, especially at the local level. Until now, through the first phase of the AKT project, close to 200 organizations from 60 cities across Serbia have been financially supported, and more than 100,000 citizens have directly benefited from the supported projects and initiatives. The total amount allocated to organizations within 13 public calls is 250 million dinars.