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Economic empowerment to full independence
Photography: NGO Atina archive
Economic empowerment to full independence
Since its establishment, Citizens’ Association Atina has had a focus on long-term support to human trafficking victims in different life areas, and the main objective has been reaching their complete independence. Only through this type of support (activities and services provided continuously to victims all the way until needed), we can talk about tangible results in recovery and resocialization of this vulnerable group, as well as a successful long-winded fight against human trafficking. Therefore, one of the key goals of a long-term and comprehensive support is prevention of re-trafficking of program users.
Beneficiaries of Atina’s program are young women and girls who need long-term and all-embracing support in the form of safe lodging, medical and psychological help, assistance with solving problem from primary environment, individual and group experience support, legal aid and counselling, as well as help with school, education and employment. Nurturing individual approach in its work, Atina assesses needs in each individual case and together with users designs support program that can include some or/and all above listed aspects of support.
Long-standing experience with direct individual work with human trafficking victims was a basis for the development of Economic empowerment program as one of the most important steps towards helping women become independent. Continuous support and job search encouragement stands out as a separate segment of work. Even after completed trainings where they acquire basic knowledge necessary for employment search, support to women survivors of human trafficking is continued with purpose of monitoring their development, networking with other companies and agencies, everyday search and informing users on employment opportunities. In other words, connection with the beneficiary is not terminated once she completes the program, but is being maintained even afterwards and long-term impacts of the support program are monitored, especially of the economic empowerment program, and in that way Atina ensures insight into resocialization, whether it is sustainable and whether there is continuous decrease of re-trafficking.
Economic empowerment program has been supported by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women - UN Women within the project “Key steps toward gender equality” funded by the EU. The project is part of the initiative for supporting women entrepreneurship, women in rural areas, decreasing labor market and employment discrimination, encouraging dialogue on the importance of economic empowerment of women and exchange of knowledge and information among women entrepreneurs. Within the project “Key steps toward gender equality“, eight local self-governments and 16 citizens’ associations have been supported to improve the economic position of women and support local communities in meeting all obligations pertaining to gender equality. Support to local communities is of exceptional importance because not all of them have equal capacities do handle human trafficking and suppress it. Moreover, they do not have capacities to offer adequate long-term support programs to victims. To that end, this program contributes to enhancing combating human trafficking throughout the territory of the Republic of Serbia, affirming equality in approach to support services for victims regardless of where the victims are, and opening new development perspectives in selected local environments.
This text was produced in the framework of the project "Support to Priority Actions for Gender Equality in Serbia", implemented by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) with funding from the European Union. The views contained in the text are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of UN Women, the United Nations or any of its affiliated organizations. The project is part of the initiative for supporting women entrepreneurship, women in rural areas, decreasing labor market and employment discrimination, encouraging dialogue on the importance of economic empowerment of women and exchange of knowledge and information among women entrepreneurs.