Programme for Freja Forum

FREJA FORUM the 12-14th November 2021 in Brussels and hybrid

 Democracy, Equal opportunities and Sustainable development goals



Venue: Trade Union Brussels office, Avenue de Tervueren 15, B-1040 Brussels, Belgium.
15.00 Registration for participants in Brussels, and coffee.
Music and pictures from WB when participants are waiting for the opening and one room for small talk Digital Activities.
16.00 Introduction – technical information from the Freja team

Welcome and program

16.00        Welcome address, Margareta Eklund, President at Freja Forum Foundation
16.05        Democracy today – democracy in the future and the role of CSO

Jytte Guteland, Member of the European Parliament (tbc)
Klotilda Feharti, Member of the Albanian Parliament
Pyry Niemi, Member of the Swedish Parliament
Ayça Oşafoğlu İnam, Deputy Permanent Delegate, Permanent Delegation of Turkey to the EU
Selim Beslagic, Tuzla/Bosnia and Herzegovina, former FB&H Parliament member
Detlev Boeing, Policy coordinator – SAA coordination / Connectivity – Albania / Bosnia and                   Herzegovina at European Commission
Anna Sundström,  General Secretary, Olof Palme International Center
Music and film

16.45        Short break
16.50        Celebration 15 years of Freja Forum. Short History – Current situation for democracy and equal opportunities – the role of Freja Forum in the future 

Johan Pelling, Swedish Union of Tenants Region Aros-Gävle
Jasminka Tadić-Husanović, CENSOR Bosnia-Herzegovina
Dušica Semenčenko, Association of Business women ABW, Serbia
Aslihan Tekin, KAGIDER and EWL Coordination for Turkey
Savka Todorovska, President of National council for gender equality, North Macedonia –  Video message

17.20        Short break with music and photos
17.25        Greetings from all parts of Europe – all groups and participants contribute
Youth about challenges for the future, democracy and equal opportunities.
Democracy and networking from “Brussels perspective” Barbara Steenbergen, International Union of Tenants, Brussels.
My vision of future democracy: Comments and input from representatives from Freja Forum Partners.

Dušica Semenčenko, Association of Business women ABW, Serbia
Mirela Arqimandriti, Executive Director of Gender Alliance for Development Center, Albania
Aslihan Tekin, KAGIDER and EWL Coordination for Turkey
Jasminka Tadić-Husanović, CENSOR Bosnia-Herzegovina
Maja Staleska, President at Housing and tenants organization HTO, North Macedonia


 18.00    Cocktail in Brussels and in the hybrid cities – Tuzla, Tirana, Skopje, Belgrade and Uppsala.


SATURDAY, November 13th

Venue: LO/TCO/Saco:s Brysselkontor, Avenue de Tervueren 15, B-1040 Brussels, Belgien. (
09.30        Opening – Welcome to the Forum and practical information.
Information about the program.
Introduction of Freja Forum “team”.
A key speaker to increase the interest for the Saturday seminars.

10.00–12.00 SEMINARS

The participants choose between two seminars.
Civil society has the potential to play a role to change by fostering a culture of democracy and to create a closer and more open relationship between citizens and decision makers.  A common problem for civil society actions is the lack of experience of citizens to claim their rights within democratic structures. This is true both for civil society itself as well as for governmental structures and representatives. The seminar will present examples and discuss activism built on democratic structure in civil society.

Moderator: Aslihan Tekin, KAGIDER and EWL Coordination for Turkey
Panel: Activism in organization
Marion Böker, International Alliance of Women, IAW
Pirkko Mahlamaki, European Disability Forum
Marie Linder, President, Swedish Union of Tenants, Sweden
Damla Umut Uzun, KAOSGL, Turkey
Mirza Hebib & Lejla Ramić, University of Sarajevo – Faculty of Law, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Esmeralda Hoxha, Project Coordinator at Gender Alliance for Development Centre, Albania



Since March 2020, society as well as individuals have changed behavior and roles because of the pandemic. Reports about the changing of roles and structures have been published concerning decision making, leadership and equal opportunities, Digitalization is one of the main factors during the pandemic for the changing society. The panel will discuss the current situation and how to develop sustainable goals for democracy and equal opportunities in society.

Moderator: Klotilda Feharti, member of the Albanian Parliament
Liselott Vahermägi, LEDA20, Sweden
Itir Sinem Aykut, KAGIDER, Turkey
Magdalena Spasovska, President at TAKT, North Macedonia
Andrea Meles, Programme Coordinator – Innovation Ecosystems, SMP/Entrepreneurship and Consumers, EISMEA
Jude Smith Rachele, PhD, Co-founder & CEO at Abundant Sun Limited, England


12.00–13.30 LUNCH



13.30–14.30 Workshops parallel session 1

WORKSHOP A: Istanbul Convention – what will happen now?
The Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, also known as the Istanbul Convention after the city in which it opened for signature 10 years ago, on 11 May 2011, is the most far-reaching international legal instrument to set out binding obligations to prevent and combat violence against women. Thirty-four member states of the Council of Europe have ratified it, twelve have signed it – along with the European Union – and it is used as a basis for action by many countries outside Europe.  2021 was a remarkable year for the Convention. Not only because it was the 10th anniversary but also anti-gender attacks are getting more visible, and also Turkey withdrew from the IC. The opinio by the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) on the EU’s accession to the IC was published, and also Republic of Moldova ratified the IC and so forth. With experts from the field we will discuss the future of the IC.

Moderator: Aslihan Tekin, KAGIDER and EWL Coordination for Turkey
Iris Luarasi, President GREVIO, Albania
Damla Umut Uzun, KAOSGL Turkey
Brankica Jankovic, commissioner for the protection of equality, Serbia
Natasha Dimitrovska, Gender Expert, North Macedonia
Fatima Bećirović, project coordinator in the Federation of Bosnia Herzegovina (FB&H) Government, FB&H Gender Center (tbc)
Alexander Kuzmicki, Chief Legal Officer (CLO), Freja Foundation


WORKSHOP B:  Freja Forum celebrates 15 years
The first Freja network was created in the 1990s during the war in the former Yugoslavia. The work was based on women from different non-profit organizations coming together to share knowledge and ideas about democracy, equality and reconciliation and to discuss women’s specific situation during and after the war. Freja Forum is inspired by Almedalen Week and wants to be a platform open to everyone to discuss democracy, gender equality and strengthen civil society. In 2017, Freja Forum was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. In the workshop, results from 15 years of networking and future plans will be presented.

Moderator: Margareta Eklund, Freja Forum Foundation
Guest speaker: Mia Stuhre, CEO, Almedalen Week
Representatives from Albania, Serbia, North Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Turkey
Women reflect: (Youtube video)


WORKSHOP C: Transfer of know how at CSOs improving housing & living conditions
Challenges such as poor living conditions, not favourable institutional framework, difficult socio-economic situation, lack of multi-sector alliances and efforts in solving the issue of housing are the common challenges in B&H and North Macedonia. With partners’ expertise from the international perspective, in particular from Sweden, CSOs representatives in Bosnia-Herzegovina and North Macedonia are paving the path to institutionalization of housing sector in the respective countries.

Moderator: Mirza Hebib, MA iur., Bosnia and Herzegovina
Jasminka Tadić-Husanović, CENSOR, Bosnia-Herzegovina
Anisa Ruseti, vice Mayor of Tirana, Albania (tbc)
Barbara Steenbergen, IUT International Union of Tenants, Brussels
Maja Staleska, Housing and Tenants organization, North Macedonia
Holicob movie  (Youtube)


14.30–15.00 COFFEE BREAK


15.00–16.00 Workshops parallel session 2

WORKSHOP D: Sustainable development goal EU enlargement – Western Balkan and Turkey
Workshop on EU enlargement policy and the latest news on the 2021 enlargement package. Representatives from Western Balkan countries and Turkey will have a dialogue on what is happening in the EU enlargement process with EU representatives. In May 2020, in Zagreb representatives of EU and Western Balkans made the declaration, which, in essence, is a declaration about WB sustainable development as a region in the upcoming years. The Western Balkans should transform into functioning market economies able to fully link to the EU’s single market, to create jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities to improve the business and investment climate and to promote the rule of law. In this endeavor, a prominent role should be given to the association of the region to the EU’s climate-related ambitions to promoting the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans, as well as to furthering the digital economy and, strengthening connectivity in all its dimensions: transport, energy, digital and people-to-people, including tourism and culture. The focus should also be put on social development, and in particular on measures in the areas of health, education, social policy, and creating further opportunities for the youth.

Speaker: Detlev Boeing, Policy coordinator EU Commission DG NEAR
Biljana Dukovska, President at Macedonian anti- poverty platform, North Macedonia
Aslıhan Tekin, KAGIDER and EWL Coordination for Turkey
Amra Bratovčić, phD, prof., Faculty of Technology Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina


WORKSHOP E: Women entrepreneurs – sustainable development of women owned businesses
Many women entrepreneurs, in the Western Balkans, Turkey, Sweden, and worldwide find themselves at the crossroads after Covid 19 pandemic hit their businesses.
There are results, after a vast number of surveys about the influence of pandemics on businesses, which present not only negative but also some positive shifts, which give reasons for hope in the sustainability of women entrepreneurship in the forthcoming period. Many of these optimistic signals are concerning digital and green transition, but it does not exclude the need for further support of women entrepreneurship, which is still on the way to reaching equality.
Eminent experts from the region will present their evidence, activities and visions of development, and issues constantly relevant to women entrepreneurship, and especial nowadays.

Moderator: Dušica Semenčenko, Association of Business women ABW, Serbia
Sanja Popović-Pantić, ABW, Serbia
Itir Sinem Aykut, KAGİDER, Turkey
Mirela Arqimandriti – Executive Director of Gender Alliance for Development Center, Albania
Elena Mladenovska Jelenkovic, CEO at M6 Educational Center, North Macedonia
Lejla Zonić, Project Manager in Q One Tech, Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina


WORKSHOP F: Youth and future – Sustainable development goals
Youth situation during and after pandemic has been changed. New pattern and structures for studies, work and living conditions are visible. Young people face the problems with studying abroad, finding adequate employment. Largest percentage of unemployed is young persons and difficulties to find an adequate housing. The youth panel will discuss current situation, dreams about the future and expectations on decision makers/politicians.

Facilitator: Mustafa Džihić, MA iur. CENSOR Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Angela Zdravkovska, Youth center for equal opportunities, North Macedonia
Keisi Gaxha, Representative of young people at the Gender Equality Library, Albania
Adam Pelling, Student from Sweden
Martin Vahermägi, Student from Sweden
Lara Pantic, Student from Serbia
Experts: Margareta Hogner, International School Gothenburg; Hans Eklund, Uppsala University; Klotilda Ferharti, Member of the parliament in Albania
Young people will participate from the Gender Equality Library in Albania, from the University in Uppsala and from the University in Sarajevo.





Venue: LO/TCO/Saco:s Brysselkontor, Avenue de Tervueren 15, B-1040 Bryssel, Belgien. (
Technical information.

10.00–12.00 Freja Academy 2021 – Training sessions

Freja Academy is a part of Freja Forum with the objective to promote the civil society organizations to strengthen their role and work to be an important factor in the civil society, based on values of democracy and equal opportunities.
The participants can choose between four parallel training sessions. After participating in one of session, the participant will receive a certificate.
SESSION A:  Safety and security in AI and digitalization
Opportunities and risks in everyday life, for society and democracy. What is AI and how does it work?
Artificial intelligence (AI) is affecting our lives to an increasing extent. What opportunities and risks are there for security and democracy? What are the risks and challenges with AI?
The results that AI produces depend on how it is designed and what information it uses. Both the design and its data can be consciously or unconsciously unbalanced. For example, important aspects of an issue may not be programmed into the algorithm or may be programmed to reflect structural prejudices. In addition, the use of numbers to represent a complex social reality can make AI appear fact-based and just when it is not (mathwashing).

Lecturer: Reza Moussavi, AI and digital Expert, Sweden


SESSION B; How to build a democratic platform and meeting place for all?
The session will present how democracy can be built on activism and processes when people meet.  Almedalen Week – the democratic meeting place for everyone. A magical place for dialogue, exchange and unexpected meetings that help to develop our society. The unique Almedalen spirit is created by openness, accessibility and mutual respect. It is the world largest meeting place with 45000 visitors and more than 3700 events
This is a yearly democratic event which started 1968 in Visby in Sweden. Almedalen Week has become a phenomenon and role model for other countries among political festivals and multiple countries have created similar venues throughout the years.

Lecturer: Mia Stuhre, CEO Almedalen Week, Visby, Sweden


SESSION C:  Creative thinking and leadership
The biggest task you all have as leaders is solving problems. Knowing that we have a method to do it right will give us confidence and help us lead our team better. The session will provide a method that you can carry in your toolbox for the rest of our life.

Lecturer: Michael Mizrahi, Head of the research, innovation and entrepreneurship authority at Azrieli College of Engineering, Jerusalem, Israel

SESSION D:  Climate change and Social Justice in the built environment
In a city on the west coast of the United State the activism started  of a group committed to finding real-time solutions to the housing needs and challenges that so many individuals, families and communities are experiencing. The participants believe they have hit a critical point, and that they together have achieved a critical mass of them who have the skills, the wisdom, the knowledge, the resources and the will to make people’s lives better through improvements to our built environment.  Learn more about democracy from an unusual activity.

Lecturer: Jude Smith Rachele, PhD, Co-founder & CEO at Abundant Sun Limited, England
The session will partly be a dialogue with Hans Eklund, Uppsala University/Swedish Union of Tenants and the participants


12.00 Hybrid Freja Forum Closing

See you next year!