“Seize the Opportunity, Do not Wait for Perfect Moments”

Emina is native of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and a market research analyst and an urban manager with a strong passion for environmental and social sustainability, with a Bachelor degree in Economics and a Masters degree in Urban management and development. She has worked in business, government and non profit sector and has demonstrable research and analytical skills. She has a strong interest in entrepreneurship and scientific and academic work. Emina is a volunteer of Association of patients with leukaemia and lymphoma.

Q: Tell us a few things about your country, and also your life's story!

A: Many have heard of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the context of dissolution of ex-Yugoslavia and the Bosnian war which lasted from 1992 -1995. War, ethnic cleansing, human rights violations, and violations during the war left major scars. Modern BiH is much older than you may think.

BiH is a country rich in culture, history and the most important of which has an outstanding landscape. It is a multicultural and a multi-ethnic country, the wealth of all of those who live in it and who love it. If you want truly untouched nature, BiH is a place you must visit once in a lifetime. I lived and grew up in Bosnia. I was 12 years old when the war started. My high school education started during the war. I started my undergraduate studies at Tuzla University but also studied in the USA. I lived in Germany and the Netherlands where I obtained a Masters degree in Urban Studies.

Q: What is your view of the world as it is today? And how do you define the concept of a better world?

A: I would say it depends on which continent you live in. It is not the same if speak as someone living in the USA, EU, Africa, Asia or in the Middle East or in the Balkans. I would say in some general thinking the concept of a better world is the one which is the more prosperous, more equal world. Where individuals truly feel they are empowered. I think there is a need for more innovation in every aspect including more comprehensive partnerships that are cross-sectoral and interdisciplinary. The world where the focus of our is on the articulation of our collective goals, where science today is in the service of economic growth, the creation of new jobs and general welfare for people, where every child is educated. If we are talking about the territory of BiH, then I see it as a transformation into a modern civil society, with more space for ambitious people to take on their roles.

Q: What are some of the key challenges in your society?

A: It seems that the overall political and social situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina leaves no room for faith in a better tomorrow. Youth unemployment. At all levels of government, there is a lack of a programmatic and strategic approach to support the improvement of the position of youth in BiH, to reverse the brain drain we are facing. Emigration is also a major problem. It seems there is little trust among people. The number of people living in extreme poverty is on the rise. Politics is dominant in every sphere from education to health.

Q: As a young individual what are a few of the hurdles that you had to overcome up until today?

A: Wrong system values, not having academic credits recognized after studying abroad, too many bureaucratic and administrative barriers, this is only to name a few.

Q: Why is the role of a mentor important for you?

A: As I am engaged in several different projects and fields simultaneously it is important to me to have someone to whom I can discuss whether from an academic or a professional aspect. You’re never too experienced to learn from others. Furthermore, having a mentor who is not from my country brings an additional asset in a sense of constructive feedback, as the fields of interest overlap and one can distance yourself from everyday surroundings and freshen the ideas.

Q: Do you have a lesson that life has taught you and you would like to share?

A: I like to think that a person who “never made a mistake never tried anything new”. Over the years life will teach you to stand up for yourself and be bold. I am an example of a person who believes in continuous personal development, self -improvement as something that brings long-term results, and doing things out of belief that it will yield well to society. Honest work and approach to any project or research idea you undertake will have impactful result sooner or later. Seize the opportunity, because they are there every day. Do not wait for perfect moments, they are right there. Most important, be in the field you love.

Q: Name a project, a foundation or a person in your country that you think is doing great work in helping improve other people's lives!

A: BIser International which is an international initiative has offices in Sarajevo, Travnik and Tuzla. Their personnel provide assistance to socially vulnerable women through educational projects (such as developing IT skills, learning foreign languages, providing free legal aid and health advice or examination, and sewing courses). These initiatives are actually the catalyst in nature for women to acquire skills that will help them improve their lives or their economic situation later on. I am very grateful that I participated in some of their courses that have helped me to learn about some passions I never knew existed in me.

Q: What are some of the challenges that women in your country face and what efforts are made towards gender equality?

A: Women from BiH really have special strength and significance, and are often very ambitious. I believe that the reason for this is our history, life and growing up in different social, political and economic systems. Yet, in our society as it is today, many women in BiH are not fully aware of their strengths, better say competencies they have. Also, let us not forget that the non-education of the female population in Bosnia and Herzegovina was one of the continuing social problems (the 20th and 21st centuries); for instance, 1981 Census showed a high rate of illiteracy among women in BiH. So yes, I would say there are stereotypes and prejudices, but women also have to fight themselves against this. The struggle for women's rights is present, there are many organizations, NGOs, activism in this field. I think in general that institutions and leaders need to do more to change the current landscape and we must start with this from schools. The divide of jobs into "men" and "women" jobs is also very much present in BiH society. I will tell you that when I said once, I wanted to take a course for a car mechanic, everyone laughed at me finding it very ridiculous idea (smiley). But I did not find it funny at all. Unfortunately, women are subject to everyday different situations, about some of them they are silent, because they are still living very “traditional roles“. I am very positive that through power of education the position of women in Bosnia and Herzegovina will attain healthier levels. I firmly believe in that.

Q: Athena40 is the first ever global selection of the top 40 women forward thinkers, commentators, activists, authors, academics, entrepreneurs, executives, innovators. Can you think of a truly innovative and forward-thinking woman from your country that you wish to nominate for the Athena40 global list?

A: Yes. It would be Prof. Dr. Ermina Iljazović, Head of the Pathology Institute University Clinical Centre Tuzla, and Head of the Department of Pathology at the University of Tuzla. She is the winner of a Super Woman Award for 2018.

Q: Share with us a phrase, a poem or a story that you love or you find interesting!

A: ”Do not give up when you still have something to give, nothing is really over until the moment you stop trying. You are born original, so do not die as a copy.” - Quote

Q: Tell us one thing that you have learned from your mentor.

A: Continuous communication and collaboration bears fruitful results sooner or later.