Social inclusion, Community development

Self-made women of the postwar border

Participative empowerment and social inclusion of vulnerable women in Croatian rural counties through building of solidarity support groups


Who is behind this?

Iva Ivšić

Organisation for Workers Initiative and Democratisation (OWID)


Who is joining forces?






Idea pitch

Gender inequality and social exclusion of women is particularly highlighted in rural counties that had been damaged by the war in the 1990's followed by deindustrialization, poverty, ethnic division, and unequal access to social services. Women participatory engagement through community work and building solidarity support groups in cooperation with local NGO’s will be beneficial in alleviating inequalities and empowering them in changing their status from vulnerable groups to active citizens.

Where will your project idea take place?

Karlovac County and Sisak-Moslavina County of central Croatia

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

Sisak-Moslavina and Karlovac County reported the highest poverty rate in Croatia in 2010 ranging from 37.4 to 45.8 %. Along with poverty, this region is marked by de-industrialization and long-term unemployment which particularly affects women. The social inequalities are further highlighted by the unequal access to social services. National plans for development of social care do not take into consideration the gender and ethnic distribution of social inequalities, especially on local and regional level. Therefore, the social care is relegated to informal family networks and the Catholic church which has been deepening ethnic division and retraditionalizing gender roles. Women work more and earn less than men while carrying out the most of the reproductive work in silence.

Who are you doing it for?

The global health and subsequent economic crisis is expected to hit women harder than men. Women living in rural areas will have to take additional responsibility and compensate for the lack of safety nets in the forthcoming economic recession. More care work will fall to women, especially those living in low-income households typical for these counties. Therefore, we will focus on vulnerable groups that will be most affected – pregnant women, women with small children, single mothers, early-age and student mothers, unemployed and care workers. In our community work we intend to include and consult with groups of key importance for the social reproduction of these communities, such as NGO activists, trade unionists and women working in kindergartens, schools and social centres.

How do you plan to get there?

A participatory, bottom-up approach will be crucial to the organizing process, providing participants with the tools to raise awareness and articulate and advocate for different public policies, gender equality policies, as well as gender and socio-economic justice in society. Through the organization of public activities and campaigns in the local community, they will raise awareness and present potential solutions to the public, thus attracting new members interested in participating in solidarity support groups, strengthening their organizational and activist capacities and creating the critical mass needed for political emancipation.

What are the expected results?

1. Solidarity support groups established in both Sisak-Moslavina and Karlovac Counties (R1); 2. A minimum of 20 women involved in the work of solidarity support groups (R2); 3. A minimum of 20 women empowered to advocate for their rights at the municipal, local and higher levels and to actively participate in civil society activities (R3); 4. At least 5 local organizations and public institutions became aware of the issues listed in the project (R4); 5. The social support system has been improved, based on the needs and rights of women and gender equality (R5); 6. Public visibility and education of citizens about the position of women and the problems they face in the local community has increased (R6).

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

We want to engage with and promote community organizing by means of building solidarity support groups in cooperation with local NGOs. We believe that the inclusion of women in economic, social and political local life through community work and solidarity networks plays a pivotal role in properly addressing social exclusion and gender inequality. The aforementioned methods will open an inclusive space for networking, sharing of experiences, self-empowerment, as well as building of trust and knowledge. By opening of space for women, we want to encourage them to speak up, address the obstacles and problems in their local communities, communicate their needs, self-organize and engage in building of a more participatory and egalitarian public sphere regardless of gender and ethnicity.

Why is this idea important to you?

The basis of our work is field work, which means creating networks in order to help those in need. To this end, we have developed research, educational and media capacities to be able to intervene where it is most needed. We want to make the experience we have in community organizing useful for an area that is faced with a plethora of problems that make life difficult for all residents, with vulnerable groups being particularly exposed. We see helping women in these communities as an opportunity to step forward for the whole community in a better direction.

€ 48900,-

Total budget

€ 48900,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Personnel costs 28000 EUR
Honorarium for external experts 4800 EUR
Office expenses 1000 EUR
Travel and accommodation 1800 EUR
Promotional material (flyer, poster…) 1600 EUR
Public relations 2500 EUR
Refreshments 1400 EUR
Meeting room rental 1600 EUR
Technical equipment (laptop, projector, flipchart..) 2200 EUR
Video production 4000 EUR
Total 48900 EUR

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We would like to hear about your experiences of bottom up organising regarding socially excluded women in rural border communities with troubled history of inter-ethnic conflict and economic deprivation.


Iva Ivsic



Idea created on May 26, 2020
Last edit on May 27, 2020

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