After the Association of Women "RUKA" received the grant from Sweden/USAID FARMA II they started with the implementation of the project "New Technologies Lead to New Markets", in cooperation with the Association "Vizija” from Doboj. Trainings for the production of natural soaps and creams made of medicinal and aromatic plants were organized.
Association of Women "RUKA" Kalošević, was founded in 2012 with the goal of empowering women of this region through its activities. Equality, better position of women in the local community, and equal employment opportunities are just some of the goals that Association “RUKA” intensively work on.
President of the Association, Ms. Suada Mujkić, presented their work in more detail. "We were initially assisted by the USAID/Sweden FARMA project regarding the plantation of medicinal plants. Today, on an area of 20 dunums, we grow marigold, mint, basil, catnip, artichoke and echinacea, which, in our dry kiln, we process into dry vegetable mass and place it on the market as raw material for further processing, or into teas that are presented and promoted at fairs in the Municipality of Tešanj, as well as throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina. Some members generate their revenues through the sale of fresh or processed fruits and vegetables from intensive greenhouse production,” said Mujkić and added: “We have started with beekeeping after successful training, also provided through USAID/Sweden FARMA project. Now we have 20 beehives with bees and related equipment.”
Suada's activism in the local community has resulted in better position of medicinal plants growers, who now receive incentives for production from the Municipality. Seven members of this association are registered as agricultural producers. Fight for the economic empowerment of women continues through trainings on legal registration for women engaged in any form of production, in order to become eligible for incentives.
After the "RUKA" Association received the grant from Sweden/USAID FARMA II, they started implementing the project "New Technologies Lead to New Markets", in cooperation with Association "Vizija" from Doboj. They organized training courses on the production of natural soaps and creams made of medicinal and aromatic plants were organized.
For the members of the Association, who already have experience in picking, collecting and drying medicinal and aromatic plants, this is a big step forward which moves them from the production of raw materials to the production of the final product of greater value. Participants who successfully complete these training courses will be able to independently make products based on medicinal and aromatic plants, honey, pollen and propolis. After these courses additional ones will be provided focusing on social entrepreneurship, communications and sales, social networks, as well as web promotion.
Training courses and engagement in the local community help these women gain confidence, become more competitive in the labor market and sale, which will increase their chances of finding a job or starting their own businesses. With the increase in income of women in rural areas, their socio-economic position in the community is getting stronger.
"We have a lot of plans for the future, and the first one we are working on is to register a cooperative," said Suada who is an inspiration to women in her community. She herself is also engaged in the production of herbs, fruits and vegetables, she is active in the beekeepers association "Pčela", and her active engagement in the non-governmental sector does not leave too much free time. When asked how she manages everything, she answered: "The secret is in the medicinal plants."
The youngest member of the "RUKA" Association is twenty-year-old Ms. Amina Delić. Currently unemployed Amina, pharmaceutical technician by profession, has decided to take her hobby of soap making to a higher level. "Theoretical and practical trainings for soap and cream production are an opportunity for me to learn from an experienced lecturer the little secrets of the craft that will help me perfect my production. I plan to continue further training in the areas of advertising and sales so that everything I produce can be sold. Also, we need to work on strengthening our Association, because only united we can achieve more,” Amina said.
One of the members of the "RUKA" Association is Ms. Zurijeta Begović, who came to Kalošević from Teslić long time ago because of love. Saleswoman by profession, she has been at the Association since its beginning. Days begin very early in her household. Taking care of cows, bees, working on the cultivation of medicinal and aromatic plants, and taking care of the family require a lot of dedication, but hard working Zurijeta finds time for production as well. She makes cheese from excess milk, collects honey, processes fruit into delicious juices, and demand for her teas is high. "I decided to attend training on making creams and soaps because I want to perfect creams to help with certain diseases such as sciatica, rheumatism and gout. Unfortunately, a lot of people I know have some of these problems and I would like to help as much as I can,” she said. In addition to all of the above, Zurijeta also foil paint.
Along with the work on improvement of the socio-economic status of women, the Association also works on preservation and promotion of Bosnian culture and tradition. Hard working women are engaged in the production of traditional handicrafts, preparation of traditional dishes and active promotion of tradition at the fairs and exhibitions. All interested members have the opportunity to learn tailoring and sewing skills from qualified educators.