8th of March: Celebrating Romani Women's Achievements - Milena Reljić

To celebrate the Women's Day, we want to highlighting the achievements, contributions, and success stories of Romani women from diverse backgrounds and fields. The campaign aims to challenge stereotypes, amplify Romani women's voices, and inspire pride and empowerment within the community.


Milena Reljić

3/8/20242 min read

My name is Milena, I am 28 years old and I come from a village in South Serbia. I am a Master psychologist and psychological advisor, currently going through the OSCE Peace Leadership program. Worked for political movements, foundations, human rights organizations, radio television, and financial corporations.

I have had a lot of challenges over a short period, I will share a few that made me who I am today, optimistic, independent, and motivated to make great changes in the world.

My mom got married when she was 15 years old, and she got me at 16, as a very young parent I understand the way she raised her kids. Raised in a very poor family barely surviving. For most of my childhood, I don't remember my parents because they were out working.

Later as school started, challenges with my classmates started as well and I was discriminated against for being Roma. I was beaten, spit at, and surrounded by people who constantly put me down, the same continued with the teacher who placed all Roma kids on the last benches in the classroom as if we weren't worth enough to sit on the front bench. Once I started my psychology degree found out about a summer camp, it was about Roma's identity and history, after the camp I became prouder of my nationality because I found out about my people's history, and what we went through as a nation.

Psychology has helped me a lot. I started volunteering in different organizations that work with vulnerable groups, not only Roma but LGBT groups, women groups, and people with disability groups. I have learned a lot and it felt good, it felt right, which led me to volunteer for 8 years to help as much as I can so nobody will ever feel what I have felt. I have worked on my personal and professional self and realized that hard work and self-care always pay off, which led me to great opportunities in life.

One of them was an opportunity to be part of the political advocacy with state officials such as the president of the country and the prime minister, as well as being part of the program for Political Excellence supported by the Council of Europe. Also being a part of the Romani Women Leadership Academy had an opportunity to have various of mentors with whom I worked on my leadership goals.

The biggest achievement currently I see is a happy and healthy family creation. Becoming a mother has brought to me a lot of challenges from which I have come out even stronger than before.

My story