Podgorica is the capital and largest city of Montenegro. The city was called Titograd from 1946 to 1992 when Montenegro was part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Podgorica’s favourable position at the confluence of the Ribnica and Morača rivers and the meeting point of the fertile Zeta Plain and Bjelopavlići Valley has encouraged settlement. The city’s population was 204 877 in the 2011 census. It is the administrative centre of Montenegro and its economic, cultural and educational focus.
The subject of the Freja Forum this year was Democracy, Equal Opportunities and New challenges of regional development. Freja forum gathered in total 166 participants.
From the project 100 years of women’s experience of voluntary work (Project 100), 20 women from Serbia and Bosnia could attend the Forum and tell about the work in the project, thanks to The Olof Palme International Center. Project 100 is a very successful project and there are strong wishes from Albania, Montenegro and Macedonia to create similar projects.
The opening session was held in the parliament of Montenegro. Opening speeches were held by Ms Margareta Eklund, Freja Academy, Mrs Nada Drobnjak, President of the Committee for Gender Equality, and Mr Aleksandar Damjanovic, the Office of the Committee for economics, finance and budget.
Four seminars were conducted:
- EU Regional Policies and Western Balkans & Turkey
- Initiative for women entrepreneurship political support
- Social innovation and Youth
- Women in parliament and gender aspects challenges of politics
The evaluation of the forum used as usual the Audience response system called the Freja Barometer.
Here are some results: Two out of three participants were women. The two last years showed an increasing share of men in the group compared to the antecedent years.
The share of younger participants (under 30) had gone down.
In 2011, there was a special focus on young audiences with special seminars and workshops. This turned into a high participation from young people in 2011, and now the participants age are comparable to the previous years before 2011.
For many participants who attend the Freja Forum for the first time, more information is needed to see the role that Freja networking can be playing at national level. There are also new and stronger voices for democracy in their own country, which perhaps did not exist 7-8 years ago.