Mentoring is an effective method of professional development. It encourages growth and motivation, improves productivity and engagement, facilitates connection between the participants, strengthens the community and collective identity of women, helps expand the network of professional contacts, creates opportunities for cooperation and exchange of ideas and contributes to strengthening self-confidence.

We ran a two-month pilot mentoring programme between February and April 2021, to empower women in the media. Fifteen mentees and six experienced mentors from six countries of the Western Balkans took part. The mentees were matched to a mentor with experience in the media. The mentors offered advice on any challenges but also shared their knowledge, experience and networks to support their mentee. This was an opportunity to learn, ask questions and experience different points of view.

Mentees met with their mentors twice a week to work on personal and professional development goals. The mentees also participated in workshops and consultations to exchange their experiences, reflect on the mentoring process and network with each other.

Meet the Mentors 

We worked with journalists from across the region with experience in a range of media and paired them with mentees from different countries. At the end of the programme we asked the mentors to reflect on their experiences. All of the mentors chose to take part because they wanted to help the younger generation but they also found that they learnt from their mentees.

Valbona Sulçe

Valbona Sulçe is a freelance journalist, media researcher and trainer from Tirana, Albania. She began her career as a political reporter and anchorwoman. She has written and taught extensively on reporting diversity. 

Elira Çanga

Elira Çanga is an experienced Albanian journalist, media expert and trainer. She is presently managing the EU-funded project Media in Focus in Albania and is working on strengthening public service media and enriching the school of journalism’ curricula. 

Marina Riđić

Marina Riđić is a TV anchor, journalist, and communications expert. Her work, currently at Aljazeera Balkans, comprises 3000+ TV shows, interviews, live reports and documentary films and focuses on politics.

Dušanka Duška Pejović

Dušanka Duška Pejović has been a journalist for more than 20 years and is currently employed as an editor - journalist at the Radio Television of Montenegro. For many years  she has worked for international organizations as an expert, consultant, researcher, trainer and analyst in the fields of media and communications, gender equality, participatory approach.

Zaneta Skerlev

Zaneta Skerlev is a columnist, writing weekly columns for newspaper and online sites in North Macedonia, monitors media in the Balkans and formerly the Head of the Macedonian BBC World Service.

Maša Mileusnić

Maša spent nearly 30 years in TV as a reporter, news anchor, editor, correspondent and consultant for media. While she is no longer active in journalism as team leader of the Network Journalists against violence against women, she engages with the media through specific programs and guides for journalists who report about violence against women and girls.

What our mentors and mentees had to say about the programme

Mentee - Tamara Urošević (SRB)

'Marina is such a great mentor and pedagogue. She took her time and got involved in my development, my ideas and dreams. Also, she is a really good listener and a great  professional! Now I am working (with Marina's help) on my idea for TV show! I must go to Sarajevo to meet Marina, this is how important this programme and she is to me.'

Mentor - Marina Riđić (BIH)

'Tamara is younger version of me - always active, always between many roles - journalist, feminist, activist, business lady... We worked on a concept for her TV talk show focusing on synopsis, scenario, guests, teasers, topics, set up, budget, partners and so on. She presented her idea to Editor at N1 in Croatia as a dry run for her real pitch to N1 team in Serbia. He qualified her idea as a very interesting one and he will recommend her to N1 cohort in Serbia.

I learned a lot about younger generation of journalists and activists, using Tamara's web site’s fresh new approach and format to attract Zoomers and Millennials. I am thrilled having this unique opportunity to learn from each of you from this programme. My mentees challenge me in many ways, so I tried to be the best possible opener of some new doors in their lives. '

Mentee - Amra Džonlić (BIH)

'Maša‘s knowledge was definitely something I needed in my life. It was extremely relevant for my goals and made me more confident about my private and professional life. Boosted confidence allowed me to become the coordinator for our communications plan for 2021. This resulted in me writing my first text for the OCCRP network.

I also gained a lot of contacts from people in the Balkans, as well as in BiH, with whom I can network in the future. I had no idea that these women exist, now I do and I am amazed by their achievements.'

Mentor - Maša Mileusnić (SRB)

'Thanks to a match made in heaven, I think my knowledge, experience and skills were relevant for Amra. I could not imagine that this mentorship programme would be so satisfying and rewarding. My expectations have been met more than I could expect.

I have developed many new and very good contacts and expanded my network which is very important to me because I am working on mapping women journalists’ networks in the Balkans and gathering women journalists to form a Balkan women journalists network. This programme gave me an outstanding opportunity to meet wonderful women journalists, eager to participate in future regional cooperation.'

Mentee - Vladimíra Dorčová Valtnerová (SRB)

'Žaneta was a perfect match because she is a freelance journalist now, and understands this "entrepreneurial" spirit and that is something important for my career. We achieved big success - I was very uncomfortable speaking English, but with Zaneta I broke the barrier and became unencumbered when I made a mistake in pronouncing or composing sentences - because I felt safe with my mentor and I was not afraid of failure in front of her. It's a matter of trust. I feel safe in this group. And that's crucial.'

Mentor - Žaneta Skerlev (MKD)

'A pleasurable and fulfilling conversations with a smart and ambitious journalist and entrepreneur, who comes from a small village but is fantastic women and a clever, beautiful human being.   Loved getting to know Vladimira better, professionally and probably a bit privately. I am very happy and proud that I’ve managed to be part of her life and assist her in finding ideas and ways and confidence to do things her way.

During the project I was mentored by my mentee - the best feeling ever. It has been by far one of the most important, fulfilling and rewarding experience in recent years.  I loved everything about it, every minute. It wasn’t a chore, it has been a pleasure. Thanks!'