Economic empowerment of women with the experience of migration in Serbia

Economic empowerment of women with the experience of migration in Serbia

Citizens Association "Atina" is implementing the project "Enhancement of Girls and Women's Power to Resist Gender-Based Violence in Serbia" from November 1, 2022 to September 30, 2023, with the support of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Swiss Embassy in Serbia. Within this project, among other forms of assistance, a program of economic empowerment for migrant women is implemented, as a form of long-term support and effort to improve their position and strengthen the perspective of their integration. The economic empowerment program that Atina implements includes the creation of individual employment plans for each woman, support in preparation for employment, which includes training in writing a CV, preparation for a job interview, and the acquisition of other skills and practices needed to find work in the fields which women choose. For those who are interested in catering, a practical course is also organized in Atina's social enterprise Bagel Bejgl.

​In the current period of project implementation, 15 women from the migrant population were included in the economic empowerment program. At the beginning, all of them were informed about what economic empowerment represents, what segments it consists of, and what its ultimate goal is. Information was also shared with them about labor rights, procedure for obtaining a work permit in the Republic of Serbia, ways to obtain sanitary booklets, and other necessary issues. In cooperation with the women themselves, individual employment plans were drawn up, preparation for the first job interview was carried out, and they were assisted in creating CVs. This entire process was led by the coordinator for economic empowerment, in cooperation with the case manager.

​In the further course of the program, a group of interested women - 10 of them (all from Burundi) - was formed to attend a practice at Bagel Bejgl shop. They were first presented with what the training entails. Then, during the spring of 2023, a two-month practice was organised, which consisted of one introductory class where the work plan and methodology were presented, as well as eight three-hour classes; after the completion of the training, a certificate awarding was organized for the participants. During the training, they learned, came up with new recipes and tried them, tasted dishes from international cuisine, and reached the first agreements on work engagement. The practice was carried out in cooperation with the coordinator for economic empowerment and the chef and manager of Bagel Bejgl.


The participants evaluated the practice positively, stating that it justified their expectations, that they can apply the newly acquired knowledge further, and that the experience of working in the kitchen will mean the most to them. The entire practice was evaluated with a high average score of 4.85 (out of 5), and all participants expressed their wish for the practice to last longer. The success of the training is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that three women were given the opportunity to continue working in the Bagel Bejgl shop after the practice, that they received work permits, and that four of them received sanitary booklets at the end of the training. On the other hand, three women did not complete the training, since they left Serbia before its end. This always represents a challenge and a risk in working with migrant women, since most of them experienced Serbia as a temporary residence. That is why it is important for support services and programs, such as economic empowerment, to be implemented taking into account the needs of women themselves, in order to open up and strengthen their prospective integration. Atina will continue to implement the economic empowerment program, both through this project and after it, and to provide long-term support aimed at the economic independence and integration of migrant women in Serbia.

This activity is organized as part of the project titled “Enhancement of girls and women’s power to resist gender-based violence in Serbia,” in cooperation with the International Organization for Migration and with the support of the Swiss State Secretariat for Migration.