No change comes without a fight
Dajana Mirković, an activist and mediator, talks to UN Women on the need for stronger law enforcement, and double discrimination often faced by Roma women.
Dajana Mirković is an activist in the association “Romani Ćej - Roma Girl” from Prnjavor. She is a mediator who works every day to help the Roma community exercise their rights in the local community. Dajana also works to support Roma women who face gender-based violence. She is also a peer educator about discrimination, gender and sex, and prevention of violence. Dajana spoke with UN Women about the importance of enforcement of the Law on Gender Equality in BiH, and the issue of double discrimination often faced by Roma women. Despite the challenges, her message is: Fight, because no change comes without a fight!
What are your thoughts about the current situation of women’s rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina?
I believe we have quite a good legal framework in BiH, but its practical implementation is an issue. Everything looks great on paper. Reading the law, one would say women are doing great, but that is not the case in practice.
What success stories would you highlight in the area of women’s rights in BiH in the past year?
I would like to highlight a document that was drafted for the first time ever. It is a platform and a strategy on issues of Roma women and will be integrated into the Roma Action Plan. It was developed by the Roma Women’s Network “Uspjeh BiH” (Success BiH).
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?
Women organizing and uniting and acting, both in their local communities and at the state level. That is the progress I see. We have seen some improvements, but as women, we cannot be satisfied for as long as the Law on Gender Equality is not fully enforced. Activist Jadranka Miličević is one of my great role models. I believe she has inspired many other women too, because she has raised numerous gender equality issues and I see her as one of the biggest human rights champions.
What would you do to improve women’s rights in BiH?
There should be a system in place to monitor all forms of violence against women and the quality of safe houses should be improved, women empowered; housing should be provided to women leaving the safe houses, so that they are not forced to go back to offenders. Discrimination of Roma women in employment should be tackled. Roma women face double discrimination. At interviews, employers ask women if they plan to have children, as if not planning to have a family is a job requirement. In addition, Roma women rarely get the job, despite the qualifications.
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?
Fight! No doubt there is at least one woman in your life, a mother, sister, daughter, or you are a woman yourself. And that is a cause worth fighting for. No change will come if you do not fight for it.
(Photo Credit: Mladen Blagojevic)