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UNFPA AWARDS PRESENTED: Acknowledgment of commendable efforts undertaken to fight social stereotypes, prejudices and for contribution in advancing human rights

14 December 2018

For the third consecutive year, UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is granting awards and acknowledgments to individuals and civil society organizations that oppose social stereotypes, eliminate prejudices against marginalized groups, and through various activities make a significant contribution to the promotion of human rights. In accordance with the above criteria, awards were granted to individuals and organizations who were distinguished by their work in the four key UNFPA priority areas, at a ceremony held on December 13th at Tarčin Forest Resort and Spa, as a part of an annual UNFPA meeting with partners.

The Inter-religious Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina continuously and diligently makes efforts to alleviate the stigmatization of those who have survived conflict-related sexual violence. That is why this organization received acknowledgment and an award in the category "Gender Equality and Women Empowerment, focusing on the survivors of conflict-related sexual violence".

- Not knowing about the award, we have tried to do as much as possible, not only on the UNFPA project. During a year and a half, our play "Seven", through which we are also trying to fight against violence against women, was performed in 15 bh. cities. We are proud to have signed the Declaration of the Inter-religious Council in Bosnia and Herzegovina on alleviating the stigmatization of survivors of sexual violence during the war, and to have prepared the Manual for Religious Officers for working with war-rape victims.  We are glad that someone recognized our work, said Olivera Jovanović, an expert adviser to the Secretariat of the Inter-religious Council.

In the category “Adolescents and youth, with the focus on sexual and reproductive health”, the Award went to Bona magazine. What contributed to this were the current topics, content quality, as well as including personal experiences on related topics, which eventually contributed to the empowerment of young people, primarily girls and women.

- Bona is a magazine for feminist theory and art. Every issue is thematized. One was dedicated to reproductive health, which UNFPA recognized and decided to reward. This means a lot to our small, but diligent editorial team, said Marina Veličković, one of the editors of the magazine Bona.

In the category “Sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights”, the Award went to the NGO Prirodan porod, for successfully implemented initiative of including the civil sector in BiH as an important partner in improving the sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights. The Organization is the initiator of the Break the Silence initiative, during which more than 300 maternal testimonies have been collected and published on inhumane conditions of childbirth in BiH.

- Even though we have completed the campaign, testimonies are still arriving. The action has sparked a lot of public attention. Apart from the media, we have been contacted by several governmental departments and almost all maternity hospitals in the FBiH, who were extremely "touched" by the testimonies. Since we opened a very sensitive topic, we believe that some changes for the will occur in this segment. And this acknowledgment is just an additional motive to continue the same path, said Dolores Radonić, representative of the NGO Prirodni porod.

In the last, but not the least important category - "Improving the Position of the Elderly" - two acknowledgments and two awards were granted. One was given to NGO Partnership for Public Health for the promotion of Centers for Healthy Aging, with the aim of improving the position of elderly people in society, and the other was awarded to city of Banja Luka for the establishment of four Centers for Healthy Aging in this city.

- Since we started the first Healthy Ageing Center in 2008, we entered the support process in the form of education for all municipalities that want to open such a center. We have a good system and a developed work model, which can be applied everywhere. We want to share knowledge with everyone who needs it. This was the case with Banja Luka, said Varja Nikolić, Coordinator of the Center for Healthy Aging of Center municipality and member of NGO Partnership for Public Health.

On behalf of the City of Banja Luka, the award and acknowledgment was received by Ljubinka Dragojević, independent expert associate for education and coordinator of projects in the field of education and science.

- A great number of elderly people in Banja Luka are in need. It is not always a need for economic assistance; in this case we are talking about the need for company. The city recognized this and provided space for day centers for elderly people, where they come to socialize, read newspapers, play chess, make some handicrafts... The city of Banja Luka has thus enriched their old age and expressed concern and respect for people who once built the same city, Dragojević said.