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EACEA National Policies Platform
Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina

4. Social Inclusion

4.1 General context

Last update: 21 February 2024

Main challenges to social inclusion

According to the Social Inclusion Report for 2021 the employment rate in BiH in 2021, according to the Labor Force Survey, was 39.6% and is in a slight decline compared to last year when it was 40.1%. In addition to the fact that the employment rate has decreased, the gap in the employment rate between the sexes has increased. For men, the employment rate increased from 50.9% to 51.1%, while the employment rate for women decreased from 29.9% to 28.7%. The unemployment rate of young people between the ages of 15 and 24 for 2021 was 36.6%, which is 2.8% higher than in 2019 when it was 33.8%, and 2.2% lower compared to 2018 when it was 38.8%.

In March 2020, as a result of the pandemic, schools throughout BiH were closed, and institutions in charge of education in BiH launched e-learning. Available data according to National Human Development Report for 2020; Social Inclusion in BiH show that 99% of children and young people attending primary, secondary and tertiary education had access to e-learning platforms. Meanwhile, children and young people outside the education system and without adequate access to information and communication technologies and the Internet were deprived of e-learning opportunities. In terms of social exclusion, the Roma are the category of the population most affected by this problem, which has been confirmed by numerous studies. Roma children are disproportionately affected, and they represent at least 6% of children that do not have access to Informative Communication System and the Internet.

According to the Report, Persons with Disabilities are the most vulnerable, excluded and marginalized group in BiH. The difficulties and obstacles that this population faces on a daily basis vary from the realization of basic living needs to the right to movement, education and work. This is the population that has had the hardest time withstanding the consequences of the pandemic in terms of access to the education system.

Social inclusion of children from vulnerable categories in secondary education is a challenge for BiH. A survey of multiple indicators conducted by UNICEF in 2010 and 2011 (MICS) found that 92% of high school children attend high school in both FBiH and RS. There was an increase in the number of enrollments of children from rural areas in secondary school, but there was a decrease in the number of enrollments in the transition from primary to secondary school. The research cites the following as reasons: Lack of motivation, lack of parental support, the need for work, moving to another country and lack of transportation are among the most important reasons for dropping out of education according to National Human Development Report for 2020.

According to the Social Exclusion Index, 49.4% of the population in BiH are socially excluded on some grounds, which means that BiH ranks third of the neighboring countries for which an assessment has been conducted.

Definitions and concepts

Authors can indicate any definitions, concepts, or specific terminology related to social inclusion of young people, that capture distinctive understandings and aspects of the situation in the country and facilitate the comprehension of its main features to an external reader.

At the level of the state, there is no harmonized definition of social inclusion. Existing legislation covering the field of social inclusion essentially starts from the definition of the Council of Europe, which covers three key terms:

Council of Europe: Social exclusion is a ‘process whereby certain individuals are pushed to the edge of society and prevented from participating in social relations and developments to the full extent of their capacity, by virtue of their poverty, or lack of basic competencies and lifelong learning opportunities, or as a result of discrimination. Individuals and/or population groups are thus distanced from job, income and education and training opportunities and hindered from joining and participating in social and community networks and activities. Excluded individuals and/or groups have little and inadequate access to institutions, authorities and decision-making processes’ (Council of EU, 2004: 8).

Social inclusion is a process which ensures that those at risk of poverty and social exclusion gain the opportunities and resources necessary to participate fully in economic, social and cultural life and to enjoy a standard of living and well-being that is considered normal in the society in which they live. Social inclusion ensures greater citizen participation in decision-making which affects their lives and access to their fundamental rights’ (Council of EU, 2004: 8).

Poor individuals or families are those whose resources (assets, monetary income and services from public and private sources) are so inadequate as to preclude them from having a minimum acceptable way of life in the Member State in which they live (Council of EU, 1975).