History

History

From war recovery to reconstruction, from healing to new opportunities. Throughout history, the Balkans have been an intersection of cultural, economic and social mixing. Lessons of the past and lessons for the future both play important roles in people’s lives. This includes the actions of individuals who stood up for their rights, challenged traditional norms and made decisions that positively influenced their families, communities and societies. It also includes the consequences of the ethnic conflict that gripped the region between 1991 and 1999. The wars in the former Yugoslavian countries had resulted in large population displacements, mass atrocities, countless cases of gender-based violence and sexual abuse. Violence within communities and families tore the social fabric; many of its effects are still visible today. In a way, the past, the present and the future of the Balkans all exist simultaneously. 
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When CARE started working in the Balkans more than 25 years ago, the world looked very different from today. Since the end of the wars in the former Yugoslavian countries, the region has undergone unprecedented political, economic, social and cultural changes. Communities have experienced the benefits but also the disillusions of democratization and the uncertainties of a new economic system.
Throughout history, the progress in the Balkans has been closely tied to the idea that all people have rights: universal entitlements to freedom, dignity and security, to be treated equally and to live free from oppression. The health and soul of all communities in the region depend on how these human rights are recognized – and acted upon.
CARE places gender equality at the heart of all of our efforts. The need to address women’s empowerment and gender equality in the patriarchal societies that are deeply shaken by wars and militarization was recognized quite early by CARE in the Balkans. Equally, the social, economic and political fulfilment of people’s rights is at the very core of CARE’s mandate in the Balkans. What has shaped our work the most in all those years were not necessarily historic or political milestones, but our countless encounters with the people we serve and work with.
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