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Amela Talić: What is it like to be a woman with a disability in Bosnia and Herzegovina

National regulations consider a person with a disability to be an individual with congenital or acquired impairment of sight, hearing, speech and voice impairment, physical impairment and permanent impairment in physical development, intellectual or combined impairment. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities prohibits discrimination against that population or persons with long-term physical, intellectual, mental or sensory impairments.
Bosnia and Herzegovina has accepted a number of documents prohibiting various forms of discrimination, including those based on disability. However, what it looks like in practice and what it is like to be a woman with a disability in BiH, Amela Talić, an employee of the association “Dlan” in Zenica, told us.
We are transmitting her story in its entirety:
“The lives of women with disabilities – the problems we face are numerous. Just because you are a woman in our society means that you are labeled to live in the shadow of a man, not to make decisions alone because what does a woman know? If you add disability to all that, then it is a double wall – the question is what does a woman know? And with him that – poor she no one wants her and how will she alone in the world? On paper, everyone invokes conventions, laws, rights… and in practice we cannot go beyond promises and pity because our society is not up to anything better. If I look at all that has been said, it is a question of a high degree of discrimination on the basis of what it is, that is, on the basis of a fateful predestination for which you are not to blame. Discrimination is because society has not overcome the barriers in people’s heads, the state does not invest enough to adapt all or at least most aspects of life to people with disabilities, discrimination because you do not have a choice – you choose what is adapted to you and not what you want, discrimination because people look at you through your lack and not what you can and how much you are worth.
There are bright examples in our society. When I say that, I mean people who have overcome stereotypes, people who have built themselves with the support of their families, made life better enough not to feel different and less valuable. There are always comments of pity, but I have built myself up enough not to touch me, because with that comment people say nothing about me and say a lot about themselves. Of course, I also have days when I am more emotional and when I understand differently, but I am aware that it all passes, and that I am someone who is stronger than the spoken words. Health care is something we are all entitled to, and whether the system is adapted could be discussed. Adaptation depends on the difficulty and the environment in which we find ourselves. Zenica is architecturally one of the most adapted cities in BiH, but if we go to smaller areas we will hear that they do not have the basics – access to health care facilities, elevators or adapted beds for people with disabilities. The non-governmental sector has been working hard in recent years to remove all kinds of barriers, we are moving forward as a society in small steps, so I hope that it will be easier and better for everyone in the near future. In the end, I hope that at least the generations to come after me will break down barriers in people’s minds because there are most of them, but also that the state will get enough hearing and sensibility to adjust everything needed so that people with disabilities do not feel less valuable , because the mere fact that they have difficulty makes life difficult enough. Then when you find your way to fight and adapt your life to your difficulties, at least give us the opportunity to be quality members of the community in accordance with the situation, to contribute and build a better future for all.”
The text was created as part of the “VOICE OF EQUALITY” campaign, which was launched by our association in early March. The campaign included informative and educational texts on women’s rights, the position of women throughout history, with a review of the current position of women in Bosnian society, and the problems they face. The aim of the campaign is to consider whether and to what extent gender equality has been achieved in BiH, and how we can reduce discrimination.