USAID and Impact Hub support the economic empowerment of women and their greater role in the economy

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Impact Hub today launched a four-year project for women’s economic empowerment called “She Knows,” which focuses on empowering women from the Jablanički and Pčinjski districts, especially young women, the unemployed, and women with lower educational attainment.

Research conducted by SeConS – Development Initiative Group shows that unemployment rates among women (over 15 years old) in the Jablanički and Pčinjski districts are high. Data from 2022 indicates that 29.6% of women in the Jablanički district and 35.3% in the Pčinjski district are unemployed, highlighting the need for targeted interventions. Of the total number of long-term unemployed individuals registered with the National Employment Service, women make up about 53% in the Jablanički district and 58% in the Pčinjski district.

“Over the next four years, USAID will fund this project to empower women to have a greater role in Serbia’s economic development, particularly in areas outside major urban centres. We believe that women in Serbia have great potential to contribute more to the economy. But this potential can only be fully realized when barriers preventing many women from entering and remaining in the workforce are removed,” said Brooke Isham, USAID Mission Director in Serbia.

“There is no doubt that the Law on Gender Equality has significantly improved the national legal framework and aligned it with European Union law, especially in the areas of work, employment, and self-employment, creating normative conditions for the equal treatment of women entrepreneurs in our society and increasing women’s employability. On the other hand, according to data from the Business Registers Agency (APR) for 2023, of the total number of registered business entities, 74.5% of representatives are men, and only 25.5% are women. According to data from the registers managed by the APR, women are not more numerous than men in any register, including those of associations, endowments, and foundations. Therefore, addressing this issue today is very important,” emphasized Tomislav Žigmanov, Minister of Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue.

The “She Knows” project will also promote and enhance diversity, equality, and inclusion in the business community. “Our primary research on gender differences in employment across the country shows that despite companies promoting gender equality, challenges still exist, and the implementation of measures does not guarantee effectiveness. For these measures to benefit both women and employers, it is necessary to continuously monitor gender equality indicators and ensure conditions for better implementation of inclusion and diversity in the workplace, as well as to implement initiatives for balancing work and private life,” said Stefan Lazarević, President of AmCham.

“In Serbia, over 51% of the population are women, but many have not realized their full potential. Statistics are not encouraging anywhere, but this should not stop us. Measures and regulations exist, but they are not sufficient on their own. It is crucial to change business and corporate culture towards greater gender equality and create an inclusive work environment, which is a long process that also depends on breaking down stereotypes and prejudices,” stated Brankica Janković, Commissioner for the Protection of Equality.

Participants at the gathering discussed the challenges women, especially from rural areas, face in finding jobs, developing careers, starting businesses, and securing financial resources. “The project, in collaboration with the Center for Development of the Jablanički and Pčinjski Districts, will develop and implement a comprehensive employment support program, consisting of training, retraining, and providing career guidance services for women. It will also include support for financial literacy, entrepreneurial training, and mentoring. The support program will then be replicated in two additional regions of Serbia in collaboration with two accredited regional development agencies,” highlighted Gaja Montelatici, Project Director of “She Knows.”

The “She Knows” project is funded by USAID and implemented by Impact Hub. Other project partners include AmCham Serbia, the Center for Development of the Jablanički and Pčinjski Districts, and Erste Bank.

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