In February 2019, SCI organized at the Center for Openness and Dialogue (COD) in Tirana the photo exhibition Balkan Girl Power, which concluded activities under a regional initiative undertaken by five partner organizations: SCI in Albania; National Youth Council of North Macedonia (NYCM); iACT in Montenegro; Organization for the Promotion of Activism (OPA) in Serbia; and the Artpolis Center – Art and Community from Kosovo.
This initiative funded by the Western Balkans Fund (westernbalkansfund.org) engaged about 100 girls from five Western Balkan countries and provided them with skills and tools to critically reflect on their role in society and shaping the future of their country and the Western Balkans region, using artistic photography as a means of expression. Over 500 photos of the 75 participating girls were made public on the virtual platform https://bgp.socialcontractinstitute.org/, which allowed visitors to vote for the best photos. With the best photos of girls from the five countries participating in the initiative, 500 calendars were produced for 2019, which were distributed to all five countries participating in the initiative. The Balkan Girl Power initiative gave participating girls the opportunity to get to know each other and develop, through photography and exchange of views on two dedicated Facebook pages, a shared vision of society in their country and in the Western Balkans where women and girls may have to play as active a role as men and boys in advancing the integration of these countries into the EU. Renowned Albanian-British artist Lala Meredith Vula and experienced artists from the five participating countries – Blerta Kambo from Albania, Fjolla Besimi from Kosovo, Maja Đurić from Montenegro, Marija Đoković and Tamara Zidar from Serbia and Tomislav Georgiev from North Macedonia – provided the girls with trainings in photography and assisted them in preparing the photos for the competition. The partner organizations provided the girls with information and forums to discuss the EU integration process of their country and the region. The Balkan Girl Power exhibition, which closed with awards for the best photos, will open in 2019 in some other Western Balkan countries as well and it will also be part of Balkan Tage Festival in Munich, Germany.
“My message to girls with a passion for photography is to continue to photograph in their own way and style. If this project were to be implemented again, I would suggest it to all the girls who like taking pictures. Although it took a while, it was an indescribable experience. I hope this project will get further support, and of course my wish for it is to travel through all the participating Balkan countries.”
Arbnora Memeti (participant from the Republic of North Macedonia)