Young people should learn from their early youth how to fight for their rights, how to express their opinion, while being responsible for themselves and for the community in which they live, and without insulting anyone, the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality, Brankica Janković, said at a panel discussion dedicated to the situation and problems of youth, held within the Human Rights Week. She also said that the challenges that young people in Serbia meet are similar to or same as those across Europe – from the decision-making process, access to employment, to the transition from the finalization of their education to the labor market, and she also pointed out that the young members of vulnerable social groups are at a particular risk of discrimination, which is sometimes even multiple.
The Commissioner pointed out that, in the previous year, age was the second most frequent basis for complaints filed, almost half of which were related to discrimination against children under the age of 18. It is precisely for these reasons that development of awareness of tolerance from the earliest childhood is important, not only through educational programs, but also through informal education, emphasized Janković, at whose initiative this year’s International Day of Tolerance in all schools in Serbia was marked by dedicating the first teaching class to this topic.
During the panel, Janković expressed her opinion that the principle that reads “Not About Us, Without Us” should be applied when creating public policies, that is, the voice and participation of young people in the process itself should be ensured. The Commissioner’s institution already follows this principle, forming and educating, with the help of UNICEF, a team of 30 young people from all over Serbia who, as representatives of the Youth Panel “Exorcists of discrimination”, are the best promoters of equality, by transferring the knowledge they acquired to their peers through workshops and through social networks.
Other participants from national institutions, local self-governments, civil society and youth organizations also attended the panel “Journey to the center of young people’s rights”, organized by the Belgrade Center for Human Rights, with the support of the United Nations Office in Serbia and the OSCE Mission.