Opposition to patriarchal norms and attitudes is growing among youth

Nedim Mičijević, manager for Youth Power, and coordinator/trainer for Young Men Initiative, spoke to UN Women on young people's attitudes to prevailing norms

Nedim Mičijević is a program manager with Youth Power BiH, and a coordinator and trainer in the Young Men Initiative program. He works as a trainer in Erasmus+ projects and mentors volunteers helping the organization Youth Power BiH. He studies psychology and sociology at the University Džemal Bijedić in Mostar. He spoke to UN Women about the need to improve women’s rights in BiH, and pointed out that young people are increasingly opposing patriarchal norms and attitudes.

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

I would say that the current situation of women’s rights is dire. There is a lot of talk about the equality and rights of women, whereas we have seen meagre progress in practice. All of us are very good in discussing rights - representation of women in politics, work in the institutions, or in any other field - but we have not seen much progress in practice or in mindset.

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

Unfortunately, I cannot remember any grand successes in the area of women’s rights in BiH in the past year. There have been small changes here and there, in terms of laws, initiatives and proposals for women employment quotas, or in other areas, but I cannot qualify that as a huge success. My impression is that we are some 30 to 50 years behind the rest of the world in terms of the actual equality of women and their rights.

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?

I would like to point out the regional program - Young Men Initiative, in which I am involved as well. The program works towards prevention of violence against women and promoting healthy life styles among young people. What I have seen lately, and this was not the planned outcome of our continued work with young people over the past 13 years, is ever growing numbers of young people opposing patriarchal norms, attitudes and positions that most people acquire in early childhood, in their homes.

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

In my opinion, improving the situation of women in BiH and their rights, requires continued education and building a culture of true gender equality. As long as we are teaching our children that there are men’s and women’s jobs, we cannot expect to see actual change in the area of women’s rights and equality in BiH. We are quick to talk about equality and equity, but in our own homes we still think that women are the ones who should do the dishes, vacuum and cook. It will take a long time before we have built a culture and mindset where one side or the other will not be unfavoured on grounds of gender, ethnicity or religion.

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?

The change starts with us and our own view of equality. Only then can we work to bring change in our local community, our country, the region and the world.

Written by
Masha Durkalić
Communications Associate
UN Women
UN Women