Europe & Central Asia: Breaking Out of the Margins

Roma child and family in Bosnia
© Kitty Rudman
The Roma Women's Center Bibijain Serbia, a Global Fund grantee for ten years, has provided literacy and employment training to over 5,000 Roma women from 50 settlements. Due to their systematic exclusion by governments, most of the women the Center organizes are illiterate; only 5 percent have finished high school. Through extensive community education programs, free legal services, and psycho-social counseling, the Center is improving the lives of Roma women in Serbia.

But Roma are not the only women struggling for justice and equality in the former communist bloc.

Twenty years after the Berlin Wall fell, women are trying to preserve the greater access to education, health care, and social services that they secured during the communist era. At the same time, women’s movements are still working to undo the communist legacy that prioritized collective rights over individual rights and rendered the most marginalized women invisible.

Over the past 20 years, for example, we have supported 90 groups throughout the region working to advance the rights of LGBTIQ communities, such as Zagreb Pride in Croatia. Pride festivals are just one part of a coordinated strategy used by LGBTIQ movements to raise awareness, foster national dialogue and promote policies to advance the rights of sexual and gender minorities. These groups are building new, diverse movements that advance all women’s rights while also highlighting the unique challenges of the previously invisible: ethnic and religious minorities, queer activists, sex workers, women with disabilities, and refugee and displaced women.

Next in the Annual Report: Financial Highlights and Stewardship of Resources »


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