The Commissioner for the Protection of Equality hosted the 7th Regional Conference of Institutions for Equality in Southeast Europe, held in Belgrade on the International Day of Tolerance, November 16. This year’s conference was dedicated to combating discrimination against older people, with the goal of analyzing and proposing specific ways of action of the equality bodies and other social actors to create conditions for equal treatment and quality of life for older people. The conference brought together leaders and representatives of equality institutions from Albania, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Slovenia and representatives of the non-governmental sector, international organizations, and scientific institutions.
Commissioner for the Protection of Equality, Brankica Janković, pointed out at the opening of the conference that ageism, that is, discrimination based on age, affects an increasing number of people, threatening to become the dominant form of discrimination in the 21st century. The consequences of ageism can be serious and far-reaching. Exposure to poverty, inadequate access to health care, inaccessibility of public facilities and transportation, and a large digital divide are just some of the problems that older people face, which result in shorter life expectancy, poorer health, social isolation, and loneliness, as well as high risk from violence and manipulation, stated Janković and emphasized that all this must be taken into account when creating all public policies.
The old are not some other people, but all of us tomorrow. We take care not to build a society in which our youngest citizens, who are starting their paths in life, will see a future devoid of meaning – one in which they will be rejected just because they are older, being a burden and a surplus in society, Janković concluded.
In addition to Commissioner Janković, the Head of OSCE Mission to Serbia, Jan Braathu, and Vladanka Miskin from the Association of Pensioners of Serbia spoke at the opening of the conference.
At the conference, the annual media awards for tolerance, which are jointly awarded by the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality and the OSCE Mission to Serbia, were traditionally presented to the authors of the best media texts and contributions on the topic of combating discrimination and promoting equality and tolerance. In the TV/radio category, the awards went to: Sanja Ljubisavljević Bekić (RTS), Aleksandar Minić (TV Forum), and Nikolina Kljaić (Blic TV). In the online media/portals category, awards went to: Teodora Ćurčić and Jovana Tomić (CINS), Stefan Mihajlovski (Zoomer), and Jelena Milenković (Boom93). In the print media category, the awards went to: Dejana Cvetković (Vreme), Dunja Karanović (Lice ulice) and Snežana Rovčanin Tomković (Novosti).
Bearing in mind the importance of media reporting on the topics of discrimination and equality, Professor Ivana Krstić presented the new manual for journalists “Discrimination and equality” published by the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality in cooperation with the OSCE Mission in Serbia.
The working part of the conference took place through panels dedicated to the challenges of ageism, multiple discrimination based on age, as well as problems faced by older women. Among the participants were Borka Jeremić, Head of the UNFPA office in Serbia, Tena Šimonović Einwalter, Ombudsman of the Republic of Croatia, Jasminka Džumhur, Ombudsman for Human Rights of BiH, Ardiana Hala, from the Commissioner for Protection against Discrimination of the Republic of Albania, Tamás Kádár – Co-Director of Equinet, Darijo Jurišić, Deputy Ombudsman for Persons with Disabilities of the Republic of Croatia, Siniša Bjeković, Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms of Montenegro, Anže Krajnc from the Advocate of the Principle of Equality of the Republic of Slovenia, Maja Gabelica Šupljika, Deputy Ombudsman for Children of the Republic of Croatia, Višnja Ljubičić, Ombudsman for Gender Equality of the Republic of Croatia, Nadežda Satarić from the organization “Strength of Friendship – Amiti”, Igor Jodorovski, President of the Commission for Prevention and Protection against Discrimination in North Macedonia and Nataša Todorović from the Red Cross of Serbia.