The European Union has supported the First Employment Fair for persons with disabilities in Bosnia and Herzegovina promoting the right of persons with disabilities to work, and raising awareness of the fact that persons with disabilities want to work, can work and have the right to do so.
“Together with BiH, we decided to focus more on socio-economic reforms over the last five years. That process has started and more efforts are needed in ensuring enough new opportunities and assistance to persons with disabilities and people in general. The social dimension of EU integration, with aspects like healthcare, employment, education for everyone, including persons with disabilities, is particularly important,” said Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Bosnia and Herzegovina and EU Special Representative in BiH, who officially opened the fair together with ten interns employed through the POWER project.
The fair is organised within the cross border cooperation project and demonstrates the benefits of cooperation with neighbours on common issues, showcasing that such cooperation is the driving force of development in the European Union. The promotion of employment opportunities for persons with disabilities is recognised as a priority in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro due to an extremely low employment rate and limited possibilities in the cross border area.
“This opportunity has enabled me to prove myself and show what we are capable of, that we are useful and can progress and improve. I thank the EU for enabling us to develop our first professional experiences and for the opportunity to learn through these internships. I believe we will be able to prove that we are capable and useful,“ said Anja Jurica, one of the 21 hardworking and dedicated persons who had an internship opportunity, developing professional skills, and gaining work experience and understanding of the working environment through the POWER project.
Around 40 employers, associations and NGOs working with persons with disabilities presented their products and services and best practices, while all participants had an opportunity to attend interactive job training workshops.
“We are all born equal and we all have equal human rights, and in that manner the rights of persons with disabilities are no different than the rest. My drive was to persist together with persons with disabilities and show that their rights are no different, it is just that they are not familiar enough with opportunities, which is, for me, an additional inspiration to work and contribute to positive change,” remarked Jasna Rebac, representative of the Ružičnjak Association from Mostar.
The project POWER – People with disabilities: New Opportunities for Work, Employability, and professional Rehabilitation, promotes the right to work of persons with disabilities and is financed by the European Union with more than 350,000 euro through the IPA II Cross Border Cooperation programme of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro.