Milica is a law student and activist working with Global Fund for Women grantee partner BIBIJA-Roma Women’s Center to end discrimination against Roma people in Serbia. BIBIJA provides community education programs, free legal services, counseling, and trainings on women’s human rights to Roma women in Serbia. Milica attended a workshop held by BIBIJA “and was immediately taken by the work the organization is doing. After, I realized I wanted to be part of it and do this work for life.”
Discrimination against Roma people is common in Serbia, and Milica says it’s the biggest problem Roma women face. Often this means that many Roma women are denied their basic human rights, including decent healthcare and job opportunities. Milica and her family have experienced these problems first-hand.
“Unfortunately, the biggest problem for Roma women is discrimination based on the ethnic and racial differences. Simply being Roma is a problem. Many Roma people, men and women, have problems in finding work or attending educational institutions,” says Milica. “It’s very sad for me to talk about this. We are all people. People need to realize that person’s beauty comes from within and not whether they have pretty skin, hair, and such. It is unbelievable to me that in 21st century we are still talking about discrimination, but unfortunately it is still present and very visible. When we look around we see it every day and that is a big problem.”
Milica acknowledges the diverse spectrum of Roma women in Serbia, and says that the problems each woman faces is different, but that one major issue is that many Roma women lack basic information they need to understand their rights to healthcare and education. “I would like for every women to be fully informed where and how to ask for help and guidance, no matter their situation,” she says.
Working with BIBIJA, Milica is determined to help women access opportunities that will support their empowerment. She believes that achieving women’s rights will lead to a healthier society and higher quality of life for everyone. “Women’s rights should not be ignored. Gender equality and freedom of speech are very important,” says Milica. “Women in 21st century shouldn’t have to experience being inferior in a society. To create a healthier environment we should have men and women, equally, participate and work for equality. That way a more broad advancement can be made.”
We are all people. It is unbelievable to me that in 21st century we are still talking about discrimination, but unfortunately it is still present and very visible. When we look around we see it every day.Milica Petrovic