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VV Peace Fellowship

The Intergenerational Fellowship on Women, Peace and Security in South Central Europe, or Peace Fellowship, made possible by Voices Against Violence: The Gender-Based Violence Global Initiative (VAV), is a year-long program that supports emerging and established women leaders working to address gender-based violence (GBV) in the countries of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo and Serbia.

Through the Peace Fellowship, Vital Voices will advance women’s leadership at the intersection of GBV and Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) through capacity-building, peer-to-peer learning, and mentorship. The Peace Fellowship will also offer Fellows grant opportunities for projects that support and advance national and regional action plans related to GBV and WPS. Through this fellowship, we aim to increase the capacity, collaboration, decision-making power and effectiveness of women leaders working on GBV across generations and sectors, and equipping them with the tools they need to advance women’s rights through the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) agenda.

Please note that the Peace Fellowship is an unpaid fellowship. However, if in-person activities take place, Vital Voices will pay for all costs related to these meetings (food, insurance, travel, and accommodation). The working languages of the Peace Fellowship will be Serbian, Bosnian, Croatian and Albanian. Simultaneous interpretation will be provided.

Meet The 2021 Fellows

Emila Spasojević

2021 Fellow, Human Rights Lawyer & Head of Intl Relations Dept | Commissioner for the Protection of Equality

Emila Spasojević is a Human Rights Lawyer and Head of the International Relations Department at the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality, an independent, autonomous institution dedicated to preventing and addressing all forms of discrimination in Serbia. Emila has dedicated the past 21 years to advocating for human rights, anti-discrimination, gender-equality, EU policy reform, and fair labor standards. As a Lawyer, Emila is well versed in implementing national legislation as well as international legislation through constantly familiarizing herself with legal standards put forth by the EU, ILO, UN and CoE. Outside of her work as a Lawyer, Emila has extensive experience in leading seminars, workshops and trainings on various topics of the law. She is also the Official Mediator and Conciliator in Serbia where she focuses on creating a peaceful resolution to common labour disputes. Emila holds a Juris Doctors and Masters Degree in Labor Law, Social Law and Anti-Discrimination from the University of Belgrade.

Emila Spasojević_Headshot

Svetlana Janković

2021 Fellow, Former Minister of Defense | Serbian Armed Forces

Svetlana Janković is an army veteran and retired Minister of Defense for the Serbian Armed Forces. After serving in the army for well over 30 years, Svetlana served two terms for the Serbian Government from 2010 to 2020 where she helped draft the National Action Plan for the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325: “Women, Peace and Security.” Under the OSCE Mission to Serbia, Svetlana worked in the Gender Equality Committee as a Gender and Security Consultant from 2018-2019. She is an author of several scientific papers that have been published in over 40 journals and collections in Serbia and beyond. Svetlana holds a masters degree in Defense, Security and Protection and is currently working towards her PhD.

Svetlana Janković_Headshot

Marija Penčić

2021 Fellow, President of the Board | Women of the South

Marija Penčić currently serves as President of the Board for Women of the South, an organization dedicated to empowering the voices of women and girls in Serbia. Throughout her career, Marija has served as a teacher, journalist, entrepreneur, and activist for women’s rights. Marija is currently working towards her Masters Degree in Psychology at the Dr. Lazar Vrkatiƒá University of Law and Business in Serbia.

Marija Penčić_Headshot

Besmire Aliu

2021 Fellow, Executive Director | In Time

Besmire Aliu is the Founder of her own textile business and Executive Director of In Time, a non-governmental and non-profit organization dedicated to uplifting women and children’s rights and economic well-being. Besmire has worked on several projects related to the biographical structure of the Kosovo population and has dedicated her career to the study of conflict resolution. Besmire holds a Bachelor’s and Masters Degree in Banking, Finance, and Accounting from the University of Prishtina.

Besmire Aliu_Headshot

Nazlie Bala

2021 Fellow, Political advisor | Ministry of Justice

Nazlie Bala possesses 34 years of professional experience in Senior Management Development through national and international multidisciplinary agencies based in Kosovo and the Balkans Region. Nazlie is an expert in human rights, gender-based violence issues, humanitarian affairs, security and political affairs, and the electoral process both at the local and national level. She has a proven track record in staff management, budgeting, monitoring and evaluation, donor and diplomatic relations, and strategic project design. Nazlie is highly knowledgeable in funding, reporting requirements, and all rules and regulations for UN Agencies and other international agencies such as USAID, EU, and DFID. At one point in her career, Nazlie collaborated with the Kosovo Government to establish the first Office of Gender Affairs in Kosovo. In this role, Nazlie managed a team of individuals in drafting gender policies that focused on the issue of women’s participation in decision-making. Nazlie is known by many as an industrious and dynamic advisor on internal and foreign affairs and a prominent women’s rights activist for her work in defending the rights of women who suffered sexual violence during the 1999 Kosovo War.

Nazlie Bala_Headshot

Gentiana Begolli Pustina

2021 Fellow, Journalist/editor, Radio Television of Kosovo / Ex Chair women of the Bord - Association of Journalist of Kosovo

Gentiana Begolli Pustina served as the Chairwoman of the Kosovo Journalists Association, a non-governmental organization dedicated to improving the quality of open and ethical journalism in Kosovo. In this role, Gentiana attended numerous conferences in Kosovo and abroad focusing on the protection of journalists and the minimization of political inference in the media. While in Kosovo, Gentiana led several projects with international organizations such as the UNPD and OSCE focused on empowering the role of journalists in society. Gentiana is an active participant of the EU Women in Leadership Program and served as an expert consultant on the protection of journalists by the Council of Europe and the OSCE. She has well over 20-years of experience as a journalist at TV Dujagjini, Radio Television 21, and most recently RTK where she serves as a Senior Reporter and News Editor. Gentiana holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication, and a Masters Degree in Journalism from the KIJAC Institute of Journalism and Communications in Pristina, Kosovo.

Gentiana Pustina_Headshot

Ardita Ramizi Bala

2021 Fellow, Executive Director | Women Wellness Center - Safe House

Ardita Ramizi Bala is the Executive Director of the Women Wellness Center/ Safe House nonprofit organization for women’s empowerment that provides safe spaces for survivors to share their personal experiences of leaving abusive relationships, and guide them on the path of recovery. Ardita is passionate about fighting violence against women and supporting them to find peace and regain confidence. She devoted her career to issues of human rights, equality and social justice and was responsible for a wide range of direct support services to women who experienced violence and let them know that it is never their fault. She strongly believes that empowering women means Peace and Justice and was actively involved in promoting a society of peace and human dignity. Ardita has a Master degree in Management and Entrepreneurship, she is a member of WAVE (Women Against Violence Europe) and she is the alumni of U.S. State Department of State – The International Visitor Leadership Program/ Philadelphia, Feb.2012

Ardita Ramizi Bala_Headshot

Mirjana Kučer

2021 Fellow, Executive Coordinator | Domine

Mirjana Kucer is the Executive Coordinator of Domine, a non-profit and bipartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to the promotion of women’s human right’s and empowerment. For the past 20 years, Mirjana has served as a legal counsellor at Domine. She is also one of five coordinators of the Women’s Network in Croatia. Through her work with the Euro-Med Feminist Initiative and European Women’s Lobbyist Group, Mirjana has gained ample experience in leading transnational feminist movements. Outside of her work, Mirjana serves her community by advocating for women’s rights and gender equality.

Mirjana Kučer_Headshot

Dunja Skenderović

2021 Fellow, Independent Consultant | Bonacci Ltd

Dunja Bonacci Skenderovic is an independent consultant in the field of elimination of gender-based violence against women. In 2020, Dunja founded Project Frida which deals with the issue of prevention of sexual harassment at work. As the Founder of Project Frida, Dunja conducted research on prevalence and prevention of sexual-harassment. She is very much involved in understanding consequences of GBV against women on the victims and society at large. She has well over 15 years of professional experience working for NGOs and international organizations focused on elimination of GBV against women and combatting trafficking in women. Since 2019, Dunja is a member of UN Women’s Regional Civil Society Advisory Group for Europe and Central Asia and she is the alumni of U.S. State Department of State – The International Visitor Leadership Program.

Dunja Skenderović_Headshot

Dorotea Šušak

2021 Fellow, Executive Director | Center for Women's Studies

Dorotea ≈†u≈°ak is the Executive Director of the Center for Women’s Studies in Croatia. In this role, Dorotea leads her team in providing expert knowledge on women’s issues and the diverse themes of feminism and gender equality. Dorotea holds a Bachelors and Masters Degree in the field of Dramaturgy from the Academy of Dramatic Arts Department at the University of Zagreb. Aside from her current role, she is a PhD student and she is also completing a double major in Anthropology and Comparative Literature at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. Furthermore, Dorotea is an MBA candidate at the Swiss School of Business and Management. Regardless of the sphere of her main affinities, Dorotea has committed herself to serve as an activist in the field of feminism, education and social change.

Dorotea Šušak_Headshot

Doria Jukić

2021 Fellow, Social Worker | Duga zagreb

Doria Jukić is a social worker at Duga Zagreb, a safe house for children and adults facing domestic violence in Zagreb. In this role, Doria provides individual and group support for victims and survivors of domestic violence to regain their confidence and rejoin the labor market. She empowers victims to finish their education and leads workshops on how to apply for jobs, and improve their soft skills. Outside of this role, Doria has ample experience in leading lectures and workshops on the topic of domestic abuse, and has organized a range of large-scale events and social movements in her community. Doria is a long-standing member of a theatre group and drumming collective.

Doria Jukic_Headshot

Samra Šakanović

2021 Fellow, President of the Board | Citizen's Association NELA Orašje

Samra Šakanović is the President of Citizen’s Association NELA Orašje, a non-profit organization founded by peace volunteers and enthusiasts who believe in a better tomorrow. Samra is a writer, feminist, and activist who has spent the majority of her career working with women and girls from rural communities. She is a proud defender of minority rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina and has written and published two motivational books to empower women and girls in the region. For the last two years, Samra has worked on more than 200 projects, workshops, lectures and public forums for women and children in Posavina County and beyond.

Samra Šakanović_Headshot
Bosnia & Herzegovina

Neira Raković

2021 Fellow, Attorney at Law | Private Practice

Neira Raković is a highly experienced attorney skilled in criminology, legal writing, human rights, and gender-based violence. Upon receiving her Master of Law and Doctoral Studies Degree at the University of Mostar, Neira has dedicated her career to defending human rights for women in Bosnia and Herzegovina and beyond. Neira is known by many as a dedicated mother to her 8-year-old son, a humanist, and a peacemaker who loves spending her free time playing sports and exploring the outdoors. Currently, Neira practices law through her own law firm and dedicates her time to serving clients facing a range of human rights abuses.

Neira Raković_Headshot
Bosnia & Herzegovina

Eneida Alibegović

2021 Fellow, Editor-in-Chief | RTV Bugojn

Eneida Alibegović is the Editor-in-Chief of RTV Bugojno, a local Bosnian public television channel based in Bugojno. For the past 29 years, Eneida has worked in various areas of journalism, starting with radio and TV journalism, internet journalism, youth entertainment, informative-politics, and beyond. Since 1992, she has edited and authored several successful television series for RTV Bugojn and has been recognized for her creativity, cooperation, and strong desire to acquire new skills and knowledge on the job. Eneida graduated from the University of Tulza with a degree in Bosnian Language and Literature.

Eneida Alibegović_Headshot
Bosnia & Herzegovina

Adrijana Hanušić Bećirović

2021 Fellow, Senior Legal Advisor | Trial International

Adrijana Hanušić Bećirović is a Senior Legal Adviser at TRIAL International, a non-governmental organization which fights impunity for international crimes and represents victims of war crimes in their quest for justice and reparation. From 2019 to 2021, she served on the UN Secretary-General’s Civil Society Advisory Board on prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse. Since 2016, she has been serving as a human rights consultant to the OSCE Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and for the last ten years to various NGOs in Bosnia and Herzegovina and abroad, with a focus on international human rights standards, transitional justice, women’s rights, constitutional and anti-discrimination law. From 2010 to 2012, Adrijana spent her time in a law office, and provided in 2012 legal expertise to the B&H Parliamentary Assembly. From 2012 to 2013, Adrijana served as a UNDP legal expert to the National Human Rights Ombudsmen Institute. Ms. Hanušić Bećirović holds a Law degree from the University of Sarajevo and a French Master’s degree in Public International Law from the University of Strasbourg.

Bosnia & Herzegovina