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A New Phase for the Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit with the Same Mission

Dragana Jovanović ArijasWritten by: Dragana Jovanović Arijas, Manager of the Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit of the Government of the Republic of Serbia and Coordinator for the Social Inclusion of Roma

The Government of the Republic of Serbia established the Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit in July 2009. The Unit is mandated with strengthening Government capacities for the development and implementation of social inclusion policies based on European good practices and providing support to line ministries in developing and implementing social inclusion policies, with regular consultations with various organizations.
As of 2018, the Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit has been implementing its activities under the auspices of the Office of Prime Minister Ana Brnabić. More on the key results, most interesting events, and most inspiring people we have worked with since 2009 can be found here.

The Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit of the Government of the Republic of Serbia has been implementing the programme “Support to the Improvement of Social Inclusion in the Republic of Serbia” since 2009. We have initiated the implementation of the third phase of this programme in January 2018. Furthermore, the Unit continued the implementation of the programme “From Education to Employment“, with the goal of inclusive and sustainable increase in youth employability in the Republic of Serbia. The above programmes are being implemented in cooperation with the Swiss Office for Cooperation and with the support of the Swiss Confederation during the period 2009 to 2021.
The overall goal of the third phase of the programme “Support to the Improvement of Social Inclusion in the Republic of Serbia” is to contribute to the greater social inclusion of vulnerable groups and the active participation of all stakeholders to ensure an improved quality of life for all. The desired changes listed above have been grouped and formulated under three outcomes, oriented towards implementing parties, and/or final beneficiaries:
  • Outcome 1: Relevant national and local institutions are more effective in applying selected principles of good governance (with an emphasis on participation, equality and non-discrimination) when achieving the priorities of social inclusion in accordance with international standards, in public policy areas related to social inclusion (social protection, education, healthcare, employment and housing).
  • Outcome 2: Institutions at the local level in target municipalities respond better to the needs of impoverished and socially excluded citizens, and
  • Outcome 3: Persons in a state of social exclusion (particularly women, youth, Roma, migrants and persons with disabilities, particularly in rural and extremely impoverished areas) are empowered through the support of their environment to use quality, integrated and inclusive services in the areas of social welfare, education, employment, healthcare and housing.
The programme will primarily be implemented at the macro level, by exerting influence on relevant national public policy and regulatory frameworks. The local level will apply a centralized approach to defining the overall standards for the development of local public policy and regulations, along with the provision of considerable mentoring to a select number of municipalities, with the aim of affecting the creation of local public policy and regulations and providing recommendations for a public policy review at the national level by way of an inclusive public policy dialogue.
On behalf of the Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit I wish to thank all colleagues who built, improved, and stimulated the further development of the Unit, as well as all our associates (from LIP [1], YEI [2], bloggers [3], Igniters [4]...), encouraging the Unit through constructive collaboration in its continuous effort to improve the social inclusion process in the Republic of Serbia. We look forward to future cooperation with all current and new associates in order to make our society more inclusive.

[1] LIP – Local Initiatives Programme
[2] YEI – Youth Employment Initiative
[3] Social Inclusion Blog
[4] Belgrade Ignite



New Data from the European Quality of Life Survey Available for Serbia

At the end of June, the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions – Eurofund organised a seminar for countries of Western Balkan called “Improvement of the quality of life in Europe – exchanging data for creating better public policies” and the aim of this seminar was to promote the European Quality of Life Survey. The Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit of the Government of the Republic of Serbia provided support for the realisation of this seminar.

The Republic of Serbia is part of this survey and indicators for quality of life in Serbia can be found on this link. Furthermore, free downloading of micro-data is possible by registering using the link EUROPEAN QUALITY OF LIFE SURVEY – INTEGRATED DATA 2003-2016.

The Eurofund presentation “EUROPEAN QUALITY OF LIFE SURVEY FOR 2016 – New data for candidate countries” can be found on this link.

The “Inclusion Live – Toward Inclusive Youth Policy” Conference Held

The national conference “Inclusion Live – Toward Inclusive Youth Policy” was held on 19 June 2018 in the Palace of Serbia in Belgrade, and it was attended by all relevant national and local stakeholders working on achieving goals set in the National Youth Strategy 2015-2025 related to active participation and inclusion of young people from socially vulnerable groups.

The conference was attended by more than 120 participants, representatives of youth associations, associations for youth and their networks, local self-governments and youth offices, Ministry of Youth and Sport, Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs, Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development, Protector of Citizens, Commissioner for Protection of Equality, Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities, centres for social work, international partners, etc. The conference was opened by representatives of the ministries and the OSCE Mission to Serbia, and attendees were addressed by Dragana Jovanović Arijas, Manager of the Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit of the Government of the Republic of Serbia. After the introductory presentations, there were panel discussions and workshops during which certain recommendations were defined. These recommendations should enable larger inclusion of young people from vulnerable groups, better competences of those working with the youth and more developed cross-sectoral cooperation.

The national conference “Inclusion Live – Toward Inclusive Youth Policy” was organised by the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights in cooperation with the National Youth Council of Serbia (KOMS), National Association of Youth Workers (NAPOR) and National Association of Youth Offices, with the support of the Ministry of Youth and Sport and OSCE Mission to Serbia.

Awards Given to Svilajnac, Novi Sad, and Kruševac for their Contribution to all Forms of Accessibility

The Ombudsman of the Republic of Serbia, in cooperation with the Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit of the Government of the Republic of Serbia and the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities presented awards to Svilajnac municipality, as well as to cities Novi Sad and Kruševac for the most significant contribution to the development of all forms of accessibility in 2017.

Svilajnac received the award for activities and initiative with regard to timely planning and removal of architectural barriers, Novi Sad for the institutional support to the improvement of accessibility, and Kruševac for strategic thinking within the field of accessibility development.

Awards were also given to municipalities Vračar and Palilula in Belgrade, Čajetina, Bela Palanka, Boljevac, Brus, Majdampek, Paraćin, Šid, Surdulica, Velika Plana, Vrnjačka Banja, and to cities Kragujevac, Kikinda, Niš and Zaječar.


Call for Proposals for Support to Civil Society Organisations for Implementation of Social Innovative Projects (Deadline: 3/8/2018)
Call for Provision of Technical Assistance to LSGs in Improving Internal Procedures for Funding Local CSOs’ Projects (Deadline: 3/8/2018)
Foundation “Ana and Vlade Divac” – Competition for Student Scholarships for the 2018/2019 School Year (Deadline: 17/8/2018)
Call for Film and Video Submissions for Participation in the International Green Culture Festival “GREEN FEST” (Deadline: 19/8/2018)
Competition for the Selection of the Most Gender Sensitive Companies in Serbia (Deadline: 1/10/2018)
You may follow the news on open calls regularly at:


Connecting Youth is Key for Progress in the Region
Serbia is Ready for Digital Integration within the Digital Agenda for the Western Balkans
The Good Governance at the Local Level Index Presented
The Seventh Report on the Implementation of the Action Plan for Realisation of the Right of National Minorities
Five Times more Students Passed the Entrance Exam for the IT Class
You may follow the news on social inclusion and poverty reduction regularly at:


ANĐELA ČEH: Mom, Dad, a Dog and a Tie

(…)We are born, we develop and we grow up in an environment which teaches us, again and again, about what are positions of privilege and how social values are established. They used to scare us that, if we misbehaved, Roma will steal us and sell us to a circus (they used a more offensive term, which I will not repeat even for the purpose of accuracy), and afterwards, they would be surprised when a Roma child would get beaten up in school. (…) They taught us how to look the other way when they suggested we should just avoid going to our schoolyard at night because that is where “druggies” gather, and then they would be shocked when our friends would end up in rehab for alcohol or drugs and we wanted to be there for them and support them. (…) No way they wanted to give up the idea that a family consists of a mom, a dad, and a child (or children), and then they would find it strange that children coming from divorced or single-parent homes or even adopted children would get humiliated or that they lived in constant pain because this perfect image was out of their reach.

And then some of us became people who, let’s say, don’t want to have their biological children. Or they want to adopt a child. Or, imagine this; want to start some different kind of family. (…) If the family is a place of support, trust, encouragement, strength, and love, then why is it important who is in it? Is it so hard to imagine that it could easily be, say, two women? Or, two women and a child?

I will never forget the horror that came over me while I was, seemingly very composed, telling my mother I was a lesbian. And while a river of back and forth replicas flowed, repeated word for word many times after that and surely would be said again, I was sitting on the edge of a sofa, which up until a few minutes ago had been this warm centre of my home, and in panic I was trying to think about where my suitcase and my passport were, and what else I had to manage to pack when she tells me I need to move out.

This agony I imagined never became my reality. However, it is the reality of a large number of LGBTI people in Serbia. How do those postulates of unconditional parent or family love become so easily this house of cards when someone says I … love? (…)

But nevertheless, we continue to crave acceptance and we tend to insist on reconciling what appears to be irreconcilable. House of cards and our own freedom. We are stubborn, angry, relentless, bull-headed if we want to sum everything up. It looks like we really do want everything and we want it now. Sometimes, not only do we forget that this house of cards is an ideal that remains flickering on the giant screen which hypnotises us all, but we also forget that this acceptance we crave is also a choice people have the right to make. Maybe we don’t leave enough space for negotiation. Maybe things are not as bad as they seem. I like to be optimistic: it is not that our parents and families are a priori ashamed, dismissive and they want to reject us and deny us their love and support, but they may just need more time. Maybe things we really want, come in a different package than we expected.

Maybe we don’t like the world and the society we encountered. We can look for culprits, but since we have already recognised the negatives, we can focus our energy and do our best to change things, discuss, persuade, react and act. (…)

The text in its entirety can be found on the Social Inclusion Blog.

Other texts by our bloggers can be found at:


Entrepreneurship is not Easy, but it Provides Freedom, Creativity, and Self-fulfilment

Transcript of the speech given by Tanja Roljević during the 39th Belgrade Ignite “Get Involved No 5” (24 October 2017, Impact Hub, Belgrade)

I am 36 years old and I am an entrepreneur from Zlatar, (…) or more precisely from Nova Varoš. I was born there and I grew up as the youngest of three daughters in a family of watchmakers and jewellers. (…)

For 12 years I worked as a watchmaker in various famous shops and reputable companies that sold or repaired luxury watches and jewellery in Belgrade. After years of living and working in Belgrade, I decided to return to my hometown.

The main reason for my return was the death of my father, who was the owner of the only watchmaker’s shop in town for nearly half a century. The scenario in which this shop – which provided us with a nice life and a possibility to get an education – would cease to exist was horrifying for me and that motivated me to take things into my own hands and start my own business.

In addition to acquiring professional knowledge, the work I did repairing watches and jewellery enabled me to learn about other things necessary for independent work and successful business. While I was working, I dedicated a lot of my time to professional development and improved my skills. So, I had the knowledge, I had the experience, and I had tools and machines which I inherited from my father; however, this was not enough for me to take the leap into entrepreneurship. What I needed was innovation both in the equipment I was using and the services I was providing.

I knew that there were different programmes providing assistance to entrepreneurs in our country. I asked around and I found an open call for starting an independent business with the support from the European PROGRES, a programme through which the European Union and the Government of Switzerland support the development of women entrepreneurship. Within this programme, we attended various training courses, learned about entrepreneurship, as well as how to implement our ideas down to the smallest detail. A few months after applying, I found out that I was one of 48 women who would receive an EUR 9,800 grant for purchasing new equipment. In the meantime, I received a self-employment subsidy from the National Employment Service and I became an entrepreneur, I revived my family tradition and I modernised the production and service. Through the Project, I received significant media support, which proved beneficial for my business. I had to earn the trust of my customers, which was not easy, but in time this came too, mostly because of the quality of work I was providing, hospitality and patience.

The assistance I received from the European Union gave me the opportunity to gain self-confidence to move on, and it also gave me faith that my ideas were feasible. And, so “Titany Concept” my little shop at the base of the Zlatar Mountain, is still open two years later and I am planning to hire someone so I can improve and expand my business.

Being an entrepreneur is not easy at all, but given that I worked in companies where I had superiors, I can say that entrepreneurship offers more freedom, creativity, and self-fulfilment. I advise you to take advantage of the programmes which provide assistance, to be brave and persistent in the realization of your entrepreneurial dreams and, through your development, contribute to our country’s progress.

The text in its entirety can be found here.

More success stories can be found at
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Government of the Republic of Serbia
Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit
Milutina Milankovića 106, 11070 Beograd, Srbija

Phone +381 11 311 14 21