Togetherness and empowerment of women to a better future

Women from the villages of Šćipe, Here, and Kute, victims of the war, in the municipality of Prozor-Rama united in common efforts and realized that through joint work, mutual support, and cooperation with women from nearby Catholic villages, they can achieve much more than when they act independently. On this path, they were united by the project "Stand up: for greater social protection", which has been successfully implemented in these villages for the third year in a row

Families in the villages of Šćipe, Here, and Kute, in the municipality of Prozor-Rama, mostly live from their own work and what they grow by engaging in agriculture and animal husbandry. Ever since the end of the war, the struggle for existence is every day. Only a few members of the family are employed, but below average BH. The income is by no means sufficient to support a multi-member family. Because of this, often, women are the pillar of the house and those whose work the whole family relies on. They are ready for any support that comes from the side. In order to improve the quality of their lives, they gladly agreed to be participants in the project "Stand up: for greater social protection", which is implemented by the Local Democracy Foundation from Sarajevo, with the financial support of AMICA e.V., Freiburg and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of the Federal Republic of Germany (BMZ ). One of the goals of this project is to empower women, victims of war, to become active members of local communities.

- I immediately joined this project and already at the first meeting I knew that I wanted to become part of this story - says A.B., a 43-year-old housewife from the village of Šćipe (identity known to the editorial staff). Her husband just got a job, and until then the family of seven lived exclusively from their joint work in the fields and in the barn.

A.B. is, like other women in the village, mainly engaged in the production of dairy products. Her fatty cheese, which she sells in Jablanica, Prozor, Mostar, Konjic, is famous far and wide and for which, she says, there are always customers. One more cow, which she got as part of this project, certainly contributed to higher production and a more certain future.

- There is always work, you just need to want and work. I like to work and nothing is difficult for me. I'm already in the barn in the morning and I have to take at least an hour to settle the cattle, and then devote myself to milk processing. We grow fruits and vegetables, I maintain three cows and make and sell dairy products, and in the summer we pick raspberries, blueberries, and junipers and sell them - says A.B. and adds that fairs, where they have the opportunity to display their products, have a special role for women in the village.

Thanks to the "Stand up: for greater social protection" project, they participated in the Plum Fair in Prozor, "Herzegovinian Fruits of the Mediterranean" in Stolac, and the Diplomatic Winter Bazaar in Sarajevo.

- It's an opportunity to show what we know how to make and what we can offer far beyond our villages, whether it's juices, jams, jams or dairy products, and handicrafts, which we also deal with. On the other hand, it's a perfect opportunity to socialize more and get away from everyday responsibilities.

Women from these villages gather in the "Little Women's Corner", where they exchange their experiences, but also agree on new projects and collaborations. In the village of Here, a residential building was built, as well as a children's playground, which will be a base for their gatherings, empowerment, and mutual support.

- We are looking forward to the opening of the facility because for the first time we will have a corner that will be a place for our joint gatherings and activities. We are sure that many ideas will be born here that will make us even more economically strong in the future - they say and add that they will also invite women from nearby Catholic villages who they had the opportunity to meet as part of the project to the official opening.

During the last year, two reconciliation workshops were held, and for the first time after the war, women from Muslim and Catholic families met. The workshops were an excellent opportunity to connect, exchange opinions, and experiences, and agree on joint projects.

- Organic and ecologically grown products are the most sought-after today. We believe that with a joint initiative we can contribute to a much better sale of our products. We decided to ask the mayor of the municipality for a space in the market that is under construction so that we could sell the products of all women, Muslim and Catholic, together. We believe that we will realize this idea of ​​ours and succeed in our joint action - say the women from the villages of Šćipe, Here, and Kute, whose model of work and thinking could serve as motivation for other women in rural areas for similar actions.

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