The story of “My streets, your streets, our streets” - documentary on youth and divisive society

June 20, 2024


Amidst a vivid discussion on how young people perceive the divided societies nowadays, a small UNDP team has decided to further investigate these questions directly on the field, among the Macedonian youngsters. Hence, in 2022 we have embarked on an interesting journey of storytelling on the divisions among young people in North Macedonia.

The story of the storytelling 

We started from scratch! Our starting point was the need to understand what divides or unites young people nowadays, what kind of challenges they face and what their environment offers them in their everyday lives. We focused on three municipalities with different characteristics in terms of history, geography, number of citizens and todays’ potential for growth: Bitola, Veles and Struga. 

Without having a clear goal on the final expected outcome, we just adapted our concept to the interviewees’ reflections on the topic. The most important was to create a safe environment for the youngsters to speak openly and spontaneously about how they feel on these questions. At the end, we had a difficult task of packing 30 interviews and a very rich discussion into a 25minutes documentary “My streets, your streets, our streets”. 

The film is now available online, promoted to youngsters and discussed by the journalists. Eight screenings have been organized so far with the participation of over 150 young people. The discussions that follow the screening are a stunning mix of open confrontations on burning issues, emotional testimonials of suffered discrimination and awkward silence on taboo subjects. Content wise, the film went much deeper and much wider than we ever imagined. It brought unexpected ways and forms to reflect on the questions of divisive narratives, social polarization, segregation, discrimination, and the consequences they bring to the youth today. 

Here is just a glimpse of what the youngsters share on camera and “backstage”. 


The division is multi-faced, multi-layered and multi-dimensional

- Economic and social division:

“The most common division among young people is whether someone has more money than the others, whether  he rides a motorcycle or a bike” says Dimitar from Veles. 


Financial power is obviously one of the strongest dividing forces among the young people and influences their system of values. The clothes they wear or the cars they drive are a crucial factor of belonging to a certain social category. Social clustering is fostered with the places of living or the schools’ youngsters enroll. The bigger the gap becomes; the bigger social problems can occur.  

- Spatial division: 

"The younger generation inherits the spaces left to them by previous generations, along with all the divisions and characteristics embedded by them”. 


The social segregation in the cities is a common problem around the world. Even though there is no clear separation line of “rich and poor” neighborhoods, the young people have built their perception of the city division based on the social category of inhabitants, the safety and in some cases, the stereotypes of some places. 

The possibilities of youth in the cities are clearly not the same for everyone, especially for those living in isolated or rural areas. Lastly, urban planning is clearly not in favor of the youngsters and the creation of youth-friendly places. 

- Racial division: 


“Why refer to Roma as Gypsies? Because they deserve it?!” One of the interviewed girls presents her sincere testimonial on the discrimination Roma people are facing in everyday life. The discussions with the youngsters in Bitola left everyone in the audience with “bad taste in the mouth”. No one had a position of how to fight this deep segregation, inherited stereotyping, and the constant systematic discrimination towards the Roma. Will the youth be able to change this?

- Ethnic division: 

“The young people are influenced by the spirit of nationalism nurtured in their homes…” explains Nderim, youth worker from Struga. 


Division on national and ethnic basis occurs in youngsters’ reflections on several occasions within the film. However, inter-ethnic relations have not become the focus of the film even in this multiethnic context of the Macedonian society. We have very limited arguments from the discussions to analyze if this is due to improved inter-ethnic relations among the new generations or maybe just a self-limitation to speak openly on such a sensitive topic. 

Nonetheless, even though the ethnic division was not central in the film, it does not mean it is not present among the youth. Sporadic reflections on the linguistic diversity and the challenges young people face show that further discussion is needed on this matter. 


Shared perception = deception!  

In the variety of perceptions that young people have offered, there is one thing they all have in common: deception! No matter how optimistic we want to be, we cannot ignore the blues in their voices when they speak. The rough truth is that the young people are disappointed!  

  • Young people don’t see any professional future “You can either be a policeman or work in the Government” says one of the youngsters in the film.  
  • There are very few youth-friendly places or content “We have seen everything, there is nothing to do here” points out disappointedly one girl from Veles. 
  • Young people constantly face injustice of all kinds “The most common division prevailing… is the violation of the rule of law, dividing us between those protected by the law and those left unprotected”. Explains Jakov in Struga. 


How to break the pattern? 

There is not an easy solution to such a complex problem, but we need to start from somewhere. Foremost, we need to understand that everyone has their role to play: the institutions, the families, the teachers, the youngsters themselves! 

  • Listen to the youngsters! 

Young people know what they want and want to be heard. They repeat this on different occasions and in various forms. We just need to find ways to reach them and make them engage. If the authorities can create youth-friendly ways to consult the needs of the youngsters, the implemented projects can respond better to their needs and aspirations. If teachers and parents take time to understand the problems young people are facing, they can create a safe space for dialogue and understanding. 

  • Make the cities youth-friendly! 

Once upon a time, children and youth were the focus of the city planners which led to creation of educational, cultural and sport facilities available and accessible to all. However, the new trends and the urban expansions significantly shrink the spaces dedicated for the youth. We cannot expect children to play outside if all the space is taken by a myriad of cars. Youth people need their space, they need content. Urgent intervention is needed from decision-makers, local administration, and other community stakeholders to shape the cities and the rural areas so that they offer cultural, sport and other forms of youth-friendly content.  

  • Give the youngsters a chance!  

The youngsters have an obvious driving force to change how things are. Each new generation has the chance to break a pattern or introduce something new. Todays’ youth have this wide range of options, none of their ancestors ever had! With just a few clicks, they can search and analyze all the pros and cons of a problem. The world’s diversity in all its forms is now available for them on the big screen or on their phone apps. The farthest destination is just a half-day away from their place of living. Today, the young people have the world in their grasp! Instead of criticizing them, let’s make them allies in the agenda for creating a society that fits us all! 


The documentary is available in Macedonian, English and Albanian on the following links:

Macedonian : Моите, твоите, нашите улици - Документарен филм на УНДП 

Albanian:      : Rrugët e mia, të tuat, tonat 

English         : My streets, your streets, our streets - UNDP Documentary