Smiling woman with hands on her hips

This year the theme for International Women’s Day is #ChooseToChallenge. We have just launched our new pilot mentoring programme. Fifteen women from across the Western Balkans are working with more experienced colleagues to develop their careers.

To introduce our pilot mentoring programme, we spoke to Amra, one of our mentees from Bosnia and Herzegovina and her mentor, experienced journalist from Serbia, Maša Mileusnić.

Amra has worked as a youth correspondent, researcher and communications manager and talks about why she applied to be a mentee.

Why did you apply for the mentoring programme?

I applied for this mentoring programme because for a very long time I actually wanted to do something for myself which is not directly related to my organisation, but it is directly connected to my work. Knowing that I will have a mentor who has more knowledge, experience and skills and can teach me, makes a great impact on my development, both in my career and personally. And this programme gives an amazing opportunity to actually have someone who will actively listen to you without any judgments and bias, which is something we rarely find today.

What do you want to achieve over the next two months of the mentoring programme?

My plan for this mentorship programme is to make best use of  my mentor. I will ask her about every single thing that bothers me in my personal and professional life. My plan is to use this two months period to gain as much also I can in order to achieve my SMART( strategic, measurable, achievable, realistic and targeted) goals but also some more general goals which mostly reflect on boosting my interpersonal skills. One of the things we will cover and practice together is - How to pitch a story/idea?

Would formal mentoring programmes help other early career females working in the media?

Working in media means you are working in a very competitive environment. A formal mentoring programme helps in such matters as you befriend a confidant – a person who has years and years of experience working in the media. My mentor has already helped me to understand that things which I value in my life are in balance. She taught me, and is teaching me, all the things she did in her career, the mistakes and accomplishments so I can have a real life example on how to follow my career and my path in the media in order to develop professionally and personally. And for which I am very grateful. Mentorship is something that should be introduced in every field of work.

From your own experience, have you experienced gender inequality or bias? How have you addressed this issue? Or not?

I believe that every woman has experienced gender inequality or bias sometime in her life. Popular opinion in the Western Balkans is that men can do it  better. I very much disagree with such a notion. Lack of self-confidence, and the perceived threat that a woman can be powerful, and has the ability to become a decision maker, gives birth to such pejorative notion towards women.

Personally, I have experienced gender inequality and bias but mostly in my private life. It usually starts with a joke that makes you feel unconformable. How do I address the issue – communication is the key! In my life I always remind myself that I am a capable young woman, there isn’t anything in this world that I can’t do if I don’t put myself in to it. And no one can take that away from you. It is important to identify as a strong and capable woman. Which I am.

You have just started your mentoring programme but would you recommend it to others?

It’s never too late to enrol into a mentorship programme! As we finish our studies, and start working somehow we forget to work on our development outside of the job. Mentorship is an amazing way on how you can boost your self-confidence, grow personally and develop professionally and learn so many things about life, work, people and how all of that is connected.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #ChooseToChallenge and women are being asked to raise awareness against bias, take action for equality and celebrate women’s achievement – what steps will you personally take to do this?

I was never someone who “celebrated” International Women’s Day in any particular way but this year I decided to do something special. As we are all creatures of social media, and I am highly addicted, I came across a very interesting project. On 8th March I will send my picture to “FEMINISTICKI KOLEKTIV FAKTIV” which is themed “8th of March Vacation”. This photo project idea is to recreate an instruction from a women’s magazine from 1954  “Take a rest after hard work in a reclining position. Make it a habit to rest like this every day half an hour after lunch”. The idea of the photo project is to present a woman in her natural habitat during the pandemic. I can very much relate to that notion due the fact that I have been working from home for the past year, and I’ve learned how as a woman I can excel in working, cooking, doing chores, laundry, buying food, paying bills – all at the same time! Therefore my participation on this project is an homage of myself to myself so I can reflect on all the burden I carry on my back, willingly.