Empowering Voices: Interview with Jovana Krstić, a representative from 1 of 5 Million who shared her insights on politics and activism

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Dear Readers, we continue to bring you enlightening conversations with emerging voices from our member organizations across the region. Today, we are pleased to introduce Jovana Krstić, a dedicated member of 1 of 5 Million, and share with you her perspectives on politics and activism!

1. Dear Jovana, please introduce yourself to our readers!

My name is Jovana Krstić, and I currently hold the position of Coordinator for the Political Council and am a member of the Presidency within the Movement #1od5milliona, a political movement that originated from protests against dictatorship and brings together young individuals who are striving for change in Serbia.

I’m in my final year of studying Social Policy and Social Work at the Faculty of Political Sciences in Belgrade. Additionally, I have the privilege of presiding over the student organization, the Union of Social Work Students, at the same institution, which is actively dedicated to improving social welfare.

2. Look back at the start of your political activism. What was your motivation? What was the reason behind your decision to be actively engaged in politics? 

I believe that politics has always intrigued me, even though I initially pushed it to the sidelines during my younger years. Somewhere during high school, when my favorite teacher was dismissed to make way for a politically appointed educator, that moment likely triggered my realization that the system was flawed and needed change. Subsequently, during the presidential elections of 2017, I embarked on my journey of political activism, and in 2019, I actively participated in organizing protests, continuing my engagement in politics. Moreover, my passion for feminist advocacy dates back to my high school days, and upon enrolling in the Faculty of Political Sciences, my desire to delve deeper into social issues only grew stronger.

3. What are the most valuable lessons you learned through political activism? What skills and knowledge helped you to acquire?

Politics is undeniably challenging and riddled with obstacles, yet it teaches you a great deal. In my case, I would highlight persistence, resilience, and adaptability as the most valuable lessons. Throughout this journey, I have also developed organizational skills, significantly improved my public speaking and communication abilities, but perhaps the most precious lesson has been an ever-growing awareness of societal issues. Every day, I continue to learn and evolve, just as my advocacy does.

4. Share with us one memory, anecdote, or a story from your political experience that you cherish the most.

As someone coming from an organization that has experienced a wide range of events, from mobilizing 50,000 people on the streets to spending 13 days in a university building during a protest, and participating in various actions, campaigns, and protests, it’s incredibly difficult to single out just one thing.

However, I am most proud of our first electoral campaign in 2020. Emerging from protests, with an average age of 25, we traveled across Serbia, engaged with citizens, collected signatures, resisted threats, manipulation, and all sorts of challenges. I believe that during that campaign, I truly felt the essence of politics and learned the most. It was an invaluable experience.

5. Why did you decide to join the Political Youth Network? Have you previously had experience in regional cooperation? What does regional cooperation mean to you?

First and foremost, joining the Political Youth Network (PYN) provides young people with an opportunity for active democratic engagement. Through this network, we have the chance to collaborate with young individuals from different countries, exchanging experiences, ideas, and perspectives. This is invaluable because it reminds us that we are part of a larger society and can work together to address challenges.

In this network, our potential to play key roles in shaping the future political and social landscape is recognized and supported. This is essential to ensure that young people are given a voice and the opportunity for active participation in decision-making.

Of course, we must not forget the promotion of democratic values which are the foundation of the societies in which we live. PYN promotes values such as freedom of expression, equality, and human rights.

Through this network, I have learned a great deal and made new friends. It’s crucial that the voices of young people are heard, and this is the perfect opportunity for that.

Regional cooperation allows us to transcend national borders and work together on common goals and issues. Politics and social challenges often do not recognize borders, and regional cooperation enables us to collectively tackle those challenges more effectively. By collaborating with young activists and politicians from other countries, we create a network of resources and support that helps us make a real impact.

Secondly, regional cooperation allows us to exchange ideas, experiences, and best practices.

Thirdly, regional cooperation strengthens our ability to influence regional political processes. When young activists and politicians come together, their voices become stronger and harder to ignore.

For me, regional cooperation means being part of a larger, international community of young people who share the same values and passion for change. It’s an opportunity to unite to make a positive impact on society and politics in our region.

6. Nowadays we are faced with global challenges that require much solidarity and responsibility. What is your desired vision for the region in the next 10 years? What message do you have for young politically active young people in the region?

My desired vision for our region in the next 10 years is one where we collectively overcome numerous global challenges, achieve sustainable development, and build a society based on the values of solidarity, equality, and responsibility.

Perhaps this will sound like a utopian dream, but visionary region for me includes a society where human rights are inviolable, and diversities are respected. I wish to see a community where discrimination is a thing of the past, and inclusivity and diversity are fundamental values.

Of course, I want to see a political landscape in which young people play a central role. Young people are the future of our region, and I hope that in 10 years, we will already be actively involved in political processes, decision-making, and shaping policies that reflect our needs and aspirations.

The message I have for young politically active individuals in the region is that together we are stronger. To realize our vision, we must work together, recognize the power of solidarity, and take responsibility for the future.

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