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On the occasion of “Girls’ Day”, DECIDE project organized meetings with successful young women from the ICT sector for female students of schools participating in the project. As last year, the event was held in online format, and the program was followed via digital platforms by about 120 girls, mostly students of the Technical School “Ivan Saric” Subotica, Technical School Obrenovac, Secondary Vocational School Kragujevac, Electrical School “Nikola Tesla” Nis , Technical School Vlasotince and School of Economics and Trade Zajecar. Apart from them, the students of the Belgrade VI Gymnasium and the School of Shipping, Shipbuilding and Hydro building also participated.

“Observe the world around you and think about how technology can help make it better,” said Mina Markovic, a successful young woman employed as a frontend developer at Nordeus, Serbia’s best-known video game company. Mina presented her work at Nordeus as well as her development path from a girl fascinated by computers and technology, to a software engineer and a member of the team working on the most successful mobile sports game in the world, Top Eleven.

In addition to Nordeus, the students also virtually visited the technology company HTEC Group, which develops hardware and software and has been cooperating with GIZ in celebrating Girls’ Day for five years. The girls had the opportunity to hear more about the company itself, about interesting projects and the work process. Also, from the women employed at various positions, they could hear first-hand what their experiences are related to education, professional development, as well as the jobs they currently perform.

The common message of these successful young women was that, in addition to formal education, it is very important to constantly work on yourself, improve and learn something new every day in order to keep pace with trends that are changing rapidly in the ICT sector. They told the students to be curious, motivated and persistent, as well as not to miss the opportunities that arise, even if at first it seemed that the job was not right for them. All participants agreed that working in the ICT industry is dynamic and creative, and that the team spirit, positive atmosphere and stimulating work environment in these mostly young teams allow everyone to give their best.

Girls’ Day is an international event, established at the United Nations level and is celebrated every fourth Thursday in April. The goal of the event is to break down gender stereotypes in the sphere of occupations and empower girls not to succumb to stereotypes when choosing future professions, but to be guided by personal interests, abilities, and talents. German Development Cooperation has been included in the celebration of this day through various projects implemented by GIZ since 2011. To date, there have been over 10,000 girls and girls who participated in Girls’ Day. Thanks to their participation in this event, they had the opportunity to meet and hear the experiences of successful women from the world of entrepreneurship, engineering, ICT sector, craft and technical professions, as well as to directly try themselves in some of the jobs that are not typical for women. For the 11th year in a row, the Association of Businesswomen of Serbia has been organizing numerous activities to mark the Girls’ Day event in the ICT sector and has been a long-term partner of GIZ in marking this event. This year, the Association, together with its members and with great institutional support, realized online visits of girls to companies, as well as the now traditional competition “Catch the idea”.

This year’s Girls’ Day was an opportunity for DECIDE project to raise topics that are not strictly related to the choice of occupation or the ICT sector but are very important for empowering girls and supporting their personal and professional development. The special guests of the online meeting with the students were members of the first female Roma band in the world, Pretty Loud, created as a project of the GRUBB Foundation, which fights against prejudice, stereotypes and inequality through dance and music. With their music and public performances, these talented and brave girls call for women’s solidarity and provide support to all women, not only Roma, to fight for the right to be heard and freedom of choice. In line with the name of their band, they clearly and loudly told the girls that violence against women is unacceptable, that child marriage is a crime, and that education is crucial for gaining independence and overcoming the vicious circle of inequality and poverty.