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Women and Men in BH Need Jobs, Hope

25 March 2013 No Comment

Women begs in front of a building on Ferhadija street. Photo Credit: Sabina Pstrocki-Sehovic

Sabina Pstrocki-Šehović
Bosnia and Herzegovina

“Those who know that each individual life exists within the life of the community, and that we can’t enjoy our lives segregated without worrying where our society goes, are aware of the fact that the most we can do for our communities is the least we can do.”


As an infrequent TV viewer I accidentally spotted an educated Bosnia-Herzegovina refugee guest on a TV show saying:

We Bosnians, I mean all the people who used to live here and who are now expatriated, or returnees, we are really used to being degraded. For us, it became perfectly normal not to have job, not to be paid, to be underpaid, to be humiliated in all ways; for us it all seems perfectly normal. This is the biggest problem we have, and until when will it be like that? I left to Australia, and I have no intention to come back here ever, because now I am used to something else, and I am paid and I have the job I deserve. I am sure if I got back I would, with time, get used again to all this degrading.

And true, it seems that most people accept things as though it is the way life is.

Sometimes we witness outrage, and we are glad to see that there are those who won’t accept what is happening, but the sad thing is that those raging voices are often perceived as madmen. It looks like conformism and opportunism is the best option, or perhaps to be successful or relatively rich somewhere else; to be discreet, disinterested, cynical, never honest. Once the society loses honesty it will lose all, everything will become possible, nothing will be sacred. If a person is honest or talks about values in a way to be heard, criticizes in a constructive way, for a vast majority, it means certainly something is wrong with them.

I recently heard another person caught on a camera on the street, taking part in a strike, saying: “We should just go to the government buildings and destroy everything, like it happened in Egypt, and then someone will hear our problems.” Even the non-governmental organizations cannot do much, or whatever they do, it is not enough. They are always in financial problems, sometimes having projects, sometimes no, but at least they try to care for the citizens and they hear what they are saying, and their number fortunately, if compared to scientific institutes, is much bigger. It ranges between 5,000 and 7,000, though often they have no budget or anyone employed. When these organizations were established, it meant that perhaps at one time a group of people shared an opinion, gathered and wanted to make an organization to change something, but later they realized they can’t change anything or simply they quarrelled and couldn’t go on.

Right now, just when we citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina are awaiting our first census since 1992, which means after a 20-year gap, it was confirmed that due to the present insufficient financial capacity the census will be postponed. It would be or will be, in the shadow of the schizophrenic review of the state situation, besides being a regular process that each normal state should have, a mere money-wasting whose cost will outweigh the good of giving temporary employment to the 40% of citizens unemployed who could work anyway, but it will have to happen. According to one survey from the Agency of Statistics, in October 2011, 50.6% of the unemployed were women, and unemployment has the same serious consequences for quality of life for both men and women. Each year the figure is increasing by several new thousands.

People play street chess at the Square of Liberation in front of the Army House. Photo Credit: Sabina Pstrocki-Sehovic

The absurdity with the census is bigger if we assert that what it will do for some citizens is declare the discrimination against them. It will deny their right to be their nationality, nationals of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and not to primarily and only belong to one of the three dominant ethnic groups that are legally established. And, for the generation born before 1992, which is probably 80% of the population, it will confirm that their mother tongue has never existed or not existed in one of its three varieties since 1995, which means that it could not have even been their mother tongue. It is, for a logical thinker, a complete chaos.

And while the political parties are mostly raging about ethnic and sometimes even religious values and interests (apart from those small, at the moment still impotent political factions such as ‘Our Party – Naša Stranka,’ which tries to work on the main problems the citizens are facing such as lack of green spaces, too many deserted dogs on the streets, inadequate education, and corruption in employment), the main problem of the state is getting out of the public and media focus. And it is at the same time getting far from political and policy interventions. The number of people who go for their only meal to one of the public kitchens and the number of citizens living on the verge of extreme poverty is bigger each the day. One public kitchen reported recently the figure of 6,000 visitors, and the problem of those working there is that they can’t make enough food for as many ‘lunchers’ as they have.

The term European used to evoke the image of a wealthy, civilized, ordered, and nice place to be. Bosnia-Herzegovina perhaps used to be at least to some extent European, by its geographical position, and it seemed quite civilised before 1992. Those who know that each individual life exists within the life of the community, and that we can’t enjoy our lives segregated without worrying where our society goes, are aware of the fact that the most we can do for our communities is the least we can do. Otherwise we are the only losers.

Whether we want to admit it or not, sooner or later we will begin to reflect to some extent the community we live in and the country we come from, perhaps even unconsciously, in our behaviors, views, ambitions, even the way we look. It is much better to be an active participant, even if you’re a loser, in the sense that some initiative will not do much―not because we wish it not to, but because of much stronger structures that are somewhere above, controlling everything.


More by Sabina:

Reconciliation and Reality: A Fragile Hope Survives

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The views and opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Peace X Peace.

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