Empowering women in rural areas

Across the Western Balkans women’s needs vary, and actions and commitments to address their needs must be accompanied by resources. Women, especially in such rural areas need help to make their life easier and better.

Gender-responsive budgeting gives women a tool to voice their needs, influence the local budget-making process and hold their governments accountable for actions that can improve their lives. 

There is urgent need in Bosnia and Herzegovina to create specific schemes to address gender inequalities, primarily in the agricultural sector, where women’s participation is often low, since women are expected to be home-makers and rarely own land, while men are expected to be the breadwinners. 

The rural workforce participation of women might fall greater amongst the lower income class women. The reasons for this could be fewer agricultural work opportunities due to loss of land, shrinking of holdings and mechanisation of agriculture. Current situation in the BiH is that women are under-represented in economic and political decision making and employment rates in are very low. Top priority recommendation for Climate changes mitigation in BiH  region is to ensure human health, safety and life quality. The links between the economy and the environment are manifold: the environment provides resources to the economy, and acts as a sink for emissions and waste. Natural resources are essential inputs for production in many sectors, while production and consumption also lead to pollution and other pressures on the environment.

Lack of access to credit, poor healthcare facilities, the futility of education up to just secondary level to gain employment (there has been a more than 30 percent decrease in workforce participation in this category), climate change and economic crises would challenge the empowerment of women.

The Way Ahead

The challenges facing the better well-being and empowerment of women in rural BiH are plenty. However, if the trends are read, there are ample doorways of opportunities. Loss of agricultural work does not mean shunning work altogether. An increasing number of women are becoming micro and small scale entrepreneurs. It is not just development that can help rural women but the active role of policymakers, social workers, politicians and women themselves that has to make the most of it to turn it into the favor of rural women.

Women entrepreneurship plays a significant role in the development of national economies and growth. Nevertheless, although they represent half of the population, women are still not equally present in the higher management level, neither in the BiH, nor globally. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor results have shown that female entrepreneurs are not adequately empowered and supported mainly due to cultural and societal attitudes and access to resources and opportunities. There is a need for their inclusion especially in the remote and rural areas- in line with and training, support and encouraging women entrepreneurs.

Green Council planned activities and project realization

Mapping– In order to improve understanding of the current state of women’s economic and social participation project team will conduct the mapping of existing activities and the three sectors of interest. Collected data will support following actives in form of trainings, mentorship and networking.

Trainings– tailor-made trainings with focus on the following topics: Climate change, environment protection, circular economy, health, wellbeing, nutrition, organic food, production, entrepreneurship, business planning, addition values, value chains, networking and branding.

Mentorship – As a toolkit for boosting female entrepreneurship in BiH a mentorship support could be a good solution. 6 Tailor-made mentorship will promote good practices and a well-planned matching of mentors and mentees on appropriate criteria, and frequency of contact.

Networking – aim is to empower women individually and as a part of association, to overcome the self-imposed barriers – including gendered modesty, the tendency to undersell their value and strengths and reluctance to leverage their connections as a means to get ahead in their careers.

Advocacy – Improve understanding of the current state of women’s economic and social participation by well-designed guidelines in order to support future platform in BiH. and region, as well as the policies as a top-down approach to promote societal attitude changes, that will contribute to training and encouraging women entrepreneurs in the BiH and Region.