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Around one million Roma people live in the Western Balkans and this group of people is discriminated against. Otaharin works to empower the Roma people in Bosnia & Herzegovnia, in particular the women, by providing them with work opportunities and training in a variety of services. Through the work that Otaharin provides, Roma women in Bosnia are able to overcome the prejudices they face, find work and support their families.

“This type of work is really important for the community and for Roma women because we usually don’t have the same opportunities for education,” says Sabira, one of the workers at Otaharin’s farmers’ cooperative in Bosnia. “You don’t need education for growing vegetables, but it still helps women feel happy and fulfilled because they can earn money and provide for their families.”

“Since the constitution of Bosnia Herzegovina neither recognises minorities nor gives them the power to be in decision-making positions, it implies that Roma are not important to society,” says Dragan Jokovic, executive director of Otaharin. He explains how, as a result of these prejudices, Roma are often unable to find employment, leaving them vulnerable to violence and trafficking. Roma women in particular have not had the opportunity for either education or employment. “By helping the Roma mothers, Otaharin actually helps the whole family,” says Dragan. Otaharin is dedicated to working to empower Roma women through jobs and training so that they can be the voice of the Roma people and lift all Roma people up.“We are trying to build capacity so the Roma women can stand up for themselves – stand against domestic violence and stand against trafficking through labor or through early marriages. They should be the ones who can bring the change in the community.”

This grant falls within Oak’s Issues Affecting Women Programme, through which we partner with organisations working to create a world where women have the rights, capacity and opportunity to live their lives free from violence and enjoy their full and equal human rights. To this end, Oak supports organisations that:

• build capacities, strengthen women’s leadership and ensure adequate financial resources;
• create and maintain safe spaces so that feminist agendas and perspectives are amplified and become more influential;
• strengthen connections, cooperation and collaboration within the women’s rights sector and with other movements; and
• enable women who have experienced violence to access their rights and rebuild their lives.

Read more about Oak’s Issues Affecting Women Programme here:


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