Tackling women’s unemployment in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Women go through training to become professional nannies
Women go through training to become professional nannies. Photo: UNDP in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

With an unemployment rate of close to 45 percent, finding a job in Bosnia and Herzegovina is hard, particularly for women over 40.

Borka Karalic is one of them. After she lost her job as an administrative assistant in Banja Luka, she spent nine years trying to find another opportunity. “We are a jobless generation still capable of working,” she says. 


  • 204 CSOs involved in the three phases of the Local Democracy Reinforcement Project (LOD)
  • 47, 393 people have benefited from various LOD initiatives so far
  • LOD III cooperates with 71 CSOs in 15 municipalities and cities
  • EU is principal donor of UNDP LOD Project
  • Local authorities in BiH co-fund the projects

To make ends meet, she started babysitting for acquaintances, and eventually decided to go through a training to become a professional nanny. 

Along with more than a hundred other unemployed women aged between 30 and 50, Karalic started a 6-months nanny training with "Dobri medo", a civil society organization (CSO) supported by UNDP.

“There are around 4,000 women over 40 looking for work in Banja Luka. At the same time, more than 2,000 children are waiting for a place in kindergartens. Organizing professional training for nannies emerged as a possible solution to both problems,” says Tatjana Kuruzovic, the Executive Director of the association

The trainees go through five training modules prepared and taught by a team of expert psychologists, teachers, and pediatricians. A training manual for nannies has also been developed, as well as a website to assist with the hiring and promotion of the new graduates.

This online database - the first of its kind in the country - helps parents find a nanny safely and easily, and offers a forum for families to exchange experiences and get better acquainted with potential employees.

“The importance of this initiative has been recognized and co-financed by the Banja Luka City administration,” says Kuruzovic. “We hope that responsible ministries will develop the legislative framework related to this field, since there are many unemployed women in Banja Luka who are in extreme need of this kind of assistance.”

‘Dobri medo’ is just one of the more than 70 CSOs currently supported through the Local Democracy Reinforcement project. With funding of 2 million Euros from the European Union, the initiative started in 2009 with an aim to strengthen cooperation between CSOs and local authorities, adopt a longer-term planning perspective based on local needs, and ensure transparency in municipal funding.

Now in its third cycle, the initiative has involved 204 organizations across 29 partner municipalities over the past 5 years. More than 140 projects were successfully implemented and co-financed by local authorities, benefiting more than 47,000 people so far.

“A systematic solution to unemployment and, in particular, economic empowerment of women is one of the prerequisites for reducing poverty and building a democratic society,” says Samir Omerefendic, the project manager for the initiative.

As for Borka Karalic, she was recruited as a professional nanny even before completing the training.

"I am very happy that I was able to get a job so soon," she says. "I hope the training will be as very useful to others too."


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