Expanding Choices: Gender-Responsive Family Policies for the Private Sector in the Western Balkans - Phase 2

Contract partner: UNFPA - United Nations Population Fund - United States Country: Europa, regional/länderübergreifend Funding amount: € 1.800.000,00 Project start: 01.12.2023 End: 30.11.2026

Short Description:

Overall goal

The overarching objective of this program is to expand choices for women so that they can fulfill their career, family and fertility aspirations. The specific outcome is the following: Improved legislative and normative frameworks promote and foster gender-responsive family policies (GRFP) in the private sector to support more inclusive labour conditions and opportunities.


Expected results

Output 1: Strengthened capacity of targeted governments and policy makers to design, implement and monitor GRFP;

Output 2: Strengthened private sector stakeholders’ capacity to implement and advocate for GRFP;

Output 3) Strengthened awareness and access to evidence of regional and country

stakeholders on GRFP, gender equality and inclusive development.


Target group / Beneficiaries

The project will be implemented in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, and Serbia. The main beneficiaries are working parents, caregivers, and their families, focusing on traditionally excluded groups in the Western Balkans and including vulnerable women. The project will have a direct impact on over 15,000 employees and their families through collaboration with 40 champion companies, targeting various types of businesses, including those employing vulnerable populations.


Economic analysis and policy scans will lay the groundwork for evidence-driven policy scenarios related to GRFP. Efforts will be dedicated to building the capacity of government officials and policymakers in understanding and implementing gender equality and GRFP. To ensure effective implementation, support will be extended to relevant governmental and civil society entities for monitoring progress. Advocacy initiatives will be launched, emphasizing the integral role of GRFP in fostering inclusive economic growth and holistic development. Another activity is expanding networks and support systems. The private sector will be mobilized to advocate for GRFP, and peer-to-peer collaborations will be encouraged among champion companies. Awareness campaigns will target the workforce to enhance understanding of rights and entitlements related to GRFP. Multi-stakeholder awareness campaigns will strive for a fair distribution of unpaid care responsibilities and create an environment conducive to gender equality. Collaboration and knowledge exchange will be fostered among targeted countries and champion company networks. Research and assessments will be intensified to provide evidence-based technical support, and standards will be developed to assess the family-friendliness and gender-responsiveness of companies, promoting the sustainability of the Family-Friendly Workplace model.


IIn Eastern Europe, particularly the Western Balkans, entrenched gender inequalities persist, adversely affecting family dynamics and societal norms. These inequities lead to low female employment rates, with pronounced disparities in labor participation, pay, and unpaid care responsibilities. Factors contributing to this imbalance include a lack of accessible care services, inflexible work arrangements, and inadequate family policies. The region faces demographic shifts, marked by declining fertility rates and an aging population, which will be challenging to address with ongoing gender disparities in income, education, and job opportunities. Addressing these issues requires prioritizing gender-responsive family policies that involve fathers and offer comprehensive support to both parents, as current policies predominantly favor mothers, leading to inconsistencies in maternity, paternity, parental, and carer's leave provisions.

project number 8373-00/2024
source of funding OEZA
sector Geschäftwesen und andere Leistungen
modality Project-type interventions
marker Gender: 2, Democracy: 2, Trade: 2
  • Policy marker: are used to identify, assess and facilitate the monitoring of activities in support of policy objectives concerning gender equality, aid to environment, participatory development/good governance, trade development and reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health. Activities targeting the objectives of the Rio Conventions include the identification of biodiversity, climate change mitigation, climate change adaptation, and desertification.
    • 1= policy is a significant objective of the activity
    • 2= policy is the principal objective of the activity
  • Donor/ source of funding: The ADA is not only implementing projects and programmes of the Austrian Development Cooperation , but also projects funded from other sources and donors such as
    • AKF - Foreign Disaster Fund of the Austrian federal government
    • BMLFUW - Federal Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water
    • EU - Funds of the European Commission
    • Others - various other donors are listed in ADA’s annual business report.
  • Type of Aid – Aid modalities: classifies transfers from the donor to the first recipient of funds such as budget support, core contributions and pooled programmes and funds to CSOs and multilateral organisations, project-type interventions, experts and other technical assistance, scholarships and student costs in donor countries, debt relief, administrative costs and other in-donor expenditures.
  • Purpose/ sector code: classifies the specific area of the recipient’s economic or social structure, funded by a bilateral contribution.
  • Tied/Untied: Untied aid is defined as loans and grants whose proceeds are fully and freely available to finance procurement from all OECD countries and substantially all developing countries. Transactions are considered tied unless the donor has, at the time of the aid offer, clearly specified a range of countries eligible for procurement which meets the tests for “untied” aid.