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Empowering Women from Minority Groups: Međunarodna mreža poslovnih žena’s Impactful Initiative

31 July 2023

In a world where gender equality and women’s empowerment are gaining momentum, organizations like Međunarodna mreža poslovnih žena (International Network of Business Women) are taking the lead in promoting women’s leadership and professional development. Among their various endeavors, one notable initiative stands out – an educational programme specifically designed to empower women who belong to diverse minority groups in Croatia. This article explores the encountered challenges, the invaluable lessons learned, and the extensive influence of this education initiative on both the participants and the wider community.

Empowering Women from Minority Groups

Recognizing the unique challenges faced by women who are members of minority groups in Croatia, Međunarodna mreža poslovnih žena launched an education programme with a focused mission – to empower these women and nurture the growth of the next generation of female leaders. The initiative, funded by Minority Rights Group Europe, is tailor-made to address the specific needs and aspirations of women from diverse religious, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds. The project aims to provide a supportive and inclusive platform for women to enhance their leadership skills, foster mutual understanding, and encourage collaborative initiatives within their respective communities.

Module 1: Laying the Foundations in Zagreb

The journey of the educational programme commenced in the heart of Zagreb, where the organizers carefully selected a fresh venue to conduct the programme’s initial two-day module. A crucial element for its success was the thoughtful selection of qualified educators.

Međunarodna mreža poslovnih žena diligently reached out to numerous individuals and ultimately decided on Ms. Đermana Kurić from Sarajevo and Ms. Iva Babić, a lawyer from Zagreb, to lead the sessions.

Ms. Kurić’s expertise centered on Human Rights, with a significant focus on minority rights, xenophobia, racism, anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia. On the other hand, Ms. Babić’s lecture and workshop revolved around Human Rights in Law, Prejudices, Stereotypes, Discrimination, and Women’s Equality.

Gathering a diverse group of 18 women, the programme embarked on its mission to empower these women and equip them with essential leadership skills to initiate positive change within their communities. This first of three modules aimed to inspire the participants and install a sense of empowerment to initiate various initiatives in their respective communities.

Module 2: Reflections and Initiative Development in Opatija

Following the successful completion of the first module, the participants eagerly embarked on the next phase of the programme, which took place in the enchanting coastal city of Opatija.

During the workshops held in Opatija, the participants had the privilege of attending two enriching lectures. On the first day, Ms. Irena Dokić, an expert in writing European projects from Euroexpertiza, led a session focused on developing soft projects that raise awareness and promote respect for human rights. To foster collaboration and stimulate creativity, the participants were divided into three groups, working together to conceptualize and create their own project ideas centered around human rights.

The three groups embarked on distinct paths, each dedicated to initiatives with significant potential impact. The first group set its sights on “Improving the quality of life for parents and children through the adoption of proper dietary habits.” Meanwhile, the second group channeled their efforts into “Enhancing the quality of life for war victims – Rehabilitation of war victims in the territory of the Republic of Croatia.” Lastly, the third group embraced the challenge of “The Fourth 4th Woman = Islam,” aiming to challenge and dispel stereotypes surrounding women of the Muslim faith. These projects provided inspiration and served as practical examples for the participants to further refine and nurture their initiatives throughout the summer.

The second day was dedicated to a lecture and workshop on leadership education and human potential development, led by Ms. Gordana Matković from Educamix. The participants were offered the opportunity to identify and understand their unique leadership styles through a self-assessment questionnaire. Additionally, the session delved into the dynamics of teamwork and the importance of recognizing and valuing different personality types within a team.

Empowering participants to voice ideas and take ownership of projects was a crucial aspect of the initiative, instilling confidence and providing necessary support for effective implementation.

The combination of inspiring lectures, collaborative project development, and nurturing interpersonal connections made the second module in Opatija a pivotal phase in the participants’ empowerment and leadership growth journey. Their satisfaction and enthusiasm for the project were evident as they eagerly looked forward to the third module and the implementation of their initiatives. The lasting impact of the educational programme was evident in their plans to continue collaboration even beyond its completion. With the initiative’s success and the connections formed, the women explored ways to formalize their network during the final lecture in September. This approach allowed them to determine the best format and methods for their continued collaboration and support.

Promoting the Initiative and Beyond

To ensure the initiative’s reach and impact, Međunarodna mreža poslovnih žena proactively promoted the project through social media platforms, personal contacts, newsletters and their digital magazine like Ženial. By disseminating information about the education initiative, the organization aimed to inspire others and showcase the power of education in empowering women and driving positive change.

Conclusion

Međunarodna mreža poslovnih žena‘s education initiative has proven to be a transformative journey for the participants, equipping them with essential knowledge, skills, and connections to make a difference in their communities. The programme has played a pivotal role in empowering women and amplifying their voices in various fields by fostering an environment that encourages collaboration, leadership, and initiative. As the participants continue to work on their initiatives and formalize their network, the impact of this education initiative promises to resonate far beyond its conclusion, leaving a lasting legacy of empowered women leaders.

This content was published in the context of the Minorities, Accountability, Rights, Independence and Organisational Development (MARIO) programme. Learn more >

MARIO is funded by the Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values Programme (2021-2027) of the European Union (ref: 101091387).