Networking and solidarity improve the position of women in BiH society

Maja Hadžiselimović, a robotics engineer working with the IT Girls*, spoke to UN Women on gender equality, importance of education & honoring strong women.

Maja Hadžiselimović is a robotics engineer and a member of the joint UN IT Girls initiative on behalf of UNDP. One of few women in robotics, she studied electrical engineering in Sarajevo, Maribor and Novi Sad where she acquired the qualifications of mechatronic engineer. Currently, she works in Augsburg on integration of robots for human-robot cooperation, and the development of the first European industrial exoskeleton. She is a committed advocate for involving girls and young women in STEM and she initiated the marking of the European Robotics Week in BiH. In her interview with UN Women, Maja spoke about the importance of education as an instrument of gender equality, and how we should not forget the contribution of women who had fought for the rights enjoyed by the new generation.

What are your thoughts about the current situation of women’s rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina?

The process of gender equality mainstreaming in BiH has proved to be a long lasting one, requiring greater participation and engagement of all levels of government, as well as society as a whole. The current situation of women’s rights in BiH is not satisfactory, and in my opinion, the change is not happening fast enough. However, I would point to a positive example of all groups, individuals, foundations and organizations that slowly advance towards their goals through their every day work. Even though a lot of work lies ahead, I believe that adequate education and promotion of equality in society are the only road to the ultimate goal, one step at a time. I believe that women’s awareness of their rights and opportunities is growing by the year. By networking and solidarity in our activities, we can improve the situation of women in BiH society. I am hopeful that relevant authorities will soon offer greater support and contribute to a more significant improvement of the situation of women in our society.

What success stories would you highlight in the area of women’s rights in BiH in the past year?

As a positive example and one of the success stories in the area of education and gender-based job segregation, I would highlight the ever growing number of events promoting engineering and STEM among girls and young women, as well as the growing numbers of women in this field. I believe that promotion of these highly profitable industries among young women will contribute to their economic stability, which is of particular importance for young women from smaller communities.

Can you give us a positive example (or more!) of an initiative, a group or an individual who have made significant progress in the area of women’s rights in BiH?

The publication of the book #WomenOfBiH, because it has raised public awareness about the fight that brought us the women’s rights of today.

What would you do to improve women’s rights in BiH?

Improve the protection of women and children against violence; increase the number of safe houses and other institutions where women victims of violence can get proper help; work towards economic empowerment of women; provide access to sexual and reproductive health services for women.

How would you encourage other members of our society to work towards women’s rights and to contribute to gender equality? What would be your message to them?

We must not forget that our great-grandmothers and our grandmothers did not have the rights we nowadays take for granted. Women have not always been able to get education, vote in the election, run a marathon. It was the fight of that one woman, or a group of them, that granted us the opportunity to do all those things today. We must not forget that, because right now we are responsible for the equality of the generations after us.

(Photo Credit: Marijana Bičvić) 

Written by
Masha Durkalić
Communications Associate
UN Women
UN Women