U.S. EMBASSY IN PODGORICA: Fashion Show for Women’s Empowerment held

U.S. Embassy in Podgorica in cooperation with Australian Embassy in Belgrade hosted a Fashion Show for Women’s Empowerment today at the U.S. Ambassador’s Residence. NGOs Open Centre Bona Fide from Pljevlja and Niti from Bijelo Polje presented their garments and handicrafts which were produced by beneficiaries of their programs. Many of them belong to the vulnerable categories of population from the north of Montenegro, so the U.S. Ambassador’s Residence in Podgorica was filled with strong messages and emotions.
U.S. Ambassador in Montenegro Margaret Ann Uyehara said that ,,this special event celebrates women, tradition and fashion.”
– I am very proud to partner with Australian Embassy today to shine the spotlight on two inspirational organizations that are empowering women in Montenegro to overcome challenges and reach greater heights. Bona Fide and Niti are leaders in their respected communities where they are offering life-changing programs to women using traditional skills to make a positive impact on today’s world. The impact of Bona Fide and Niti’s work extends beyond beautiful handmade garments decorated with traditional Montenegrin motifs. Thanks to the passion and hard work of these organizations women throughout the north of Montenegro have discovered new talents and acquired new skills to provide for themselves and their families – Uyehara told the audience, adding that she was an avid fan of these organizations’ work and showing what she bought from them for the Residence.
Australian Ambassador in Serbia Julia Feeney said that her embassy had been cooperating with Open Center Bona Fide for several years.
– We are glad to support these brave ladies through their very important and not always easy work. Women’s empowerment presents a core priority from my Government and even through our foreign policy we strongly believe that empowering women is not only the right thing to do from the human rights perspective but it’s the right thing to do economically. When Bona Fide organized its first fashion show last year in Pljevlja we were amazed by the response of municipality and by the community at large. We are thrilled to have them here today and together with Niti from Bijelo Polje we hope that this event will further expand their horizons and opportunities for future work – Feeney believes.
The program began with the collection that was designed by beneficiaries of the Open Centre Bona Fide. In each of the 21 designs the story full of emotions, strength and hopes of women who were victims of violence was inwrought. It was noticeable from the first coat to the last black short dress. Every design was greeted by guests with the applause of support for all these brave ladies who said to violence: ,,Never again!” From all these beautiful green, brown, turquoise, red, orange coats, Bordeaux cardigan, black-white-gray, beige and gold-plated scarves, white short dresses with a bow and lace, blue dresses, green long dress with a belt, black, red ones of which the long one was created with a gilded belt, alongside a Montenegrin cap, shone hope. In each embroidery there was a glimpse into the future.

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Sabina Talović from the Open Center Bona Fide said she is today the voice of a large number of women who are silent.
All the models were made within the workshop for work-occupational therapy ,,which means that each design was handmade by a woman who is situated with us as a victim of domestic violence”.
– The products are natural, we use wool from our place, we engage our women and what we are especially proud of designs are worn by our girls. The message of the entire collection is that we came here today to Podgorica to show how women from the north of Montenegro are fighting against domestic violence, fighting for their position and rights, how they are reaching their gender equality, and that is with creativity and production – said Talović.
After the guests saw the exhibition stands of both organizations and asked around how to buy the rugs, paintings, carpets, cardigans, scarves, pillows and others, it was time for another show, the one of NGO Niti.

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Twenty two models made of wool were presented. Scarves in dark blue, green, violet, black, gray, the ones with strips and hand-made roses, caps in dark blue and gray, gray and white poncho, green and white sweater, gray, ocher, white coats, a blouse, gray, black , green dresses, black skirts displayed the skill of the hardworking women of this organization.
Miroslava Radović from NGO Nita pointed out that her organization is engaged in working with products of real domestic wool.
– We are not as successful as Bona Fide but we are original in our own way. We are doing all the weaving techniques and now we are more focused on training and strengthening our organization that is small, because it started with eight women, but we have women who had finished the training, they stay or they return. What you just saw was the result of the project we did throughout past year. We desire to keep this old trade and bring back people to wool – said Radović.
The MC of the fashion show reminded everyone of the quote from Mother Theresa: ,,Not all of us can do great things in our life, but we can do small things with great love”. That was exactly what guests of the Residence were able to see and feel today.

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This event is part of continuous activities of U.S. and Australian governments in promoting women rights and economic empowerment of women.
The audience included representatives of the Government and local authorities, NGO activists, entrepreneurs, fashion designers and artists.
Photo: B. Šekularac