Zaneta Skerlev is a columnist, writing weekly columns for newspaper and online sites in North Macedonia, monitors media in the Balkans and formerly the Head of the Macedonian BBC World Service.

Zaneta Skerlev writes: “I’m going through the notes which I have taken before, during and after every meeting and chat with the girls, my mentees. There are “to do” points, lists full of ideas, aspirations and even some strange remarks.  I can see that we started carefully, accessing each other, not quite sure if anything was going to come out of this. Zoom meetings can be so impersonal, emails as well - fine, you see each other, but you can’t read each other’s minds. 

But then, it strikes you that are not alone. That you are part of a group of other women, in media, and the same things are probably going through their minds and happening to them.  And you have great project support, for all of you, there all the of the time. And then it happens. You are actually surprised how fast. After the second meeting, we all feel much better. My mentees and I. I can tell. 

We start talking, sharing, setting up goals. Getting ambitious. I discover that Albina is actually an excellent journalist and we can talk about making her political show even more remarkable. She sends me all her programmes. She speaks English with me and I try my Bosnian.  And Elda, the young student doing her masters degree in Italy, all alone and not being able to socialize because of strict covid regulations-we talked what she wanted to be, sits outside in the cold corridor when we talk so not to disturb her flat mate. She’s yet to decide her future – a journalist, a PR consultant, but she is happy young woman who will fulfil her potential back in her home country, because she’s smart. 

Oh dear, how ambitious and relaxed all of a sudden, we are. And how normal it all is.

What have we achieved? We got to know each other and everybody else. We are part of a group now, and for that we feel stronger and more self-assured. We are more than mentor- mentee pair. We follow and watch (for) each other. We know we will be there for each other. Sounds a bit pathetic? I don’t care. Because it is true. In this time of war and distress and all sorts of hardship, Women in Media gave us a beacon of hope that together, by supporting each other, we can achieve our goals. 

And that, my dear ladies (and gentlemen), is priceless! "