Vulnerable Groups


  • Promote socially fair transition of women, youth and most vulnerable groups in the Western Balkans
  • Work towards facilitating conditions for women’s economic empowerment, inclusion of youth in decision-making and integration of Roma to reduce existing socio-economic gaps with non-Roma population


  • Signing of the Declaration of the Western Balkans Partners on Roma Integration as part of EU accession facilitated
  • Roma Integration Roadmaps 2019-2021 and tailored-made measures prepared
  • Youth Lab project launched as of January 2020 with the objective to spur development of youth policies and inclusion of youth in decision-making in the region
  • Mapping of youth policies, mechanisms and donor activities in the Western Balkans conducted
  • Ongoing promotional campaign on Women’s Economic Empowerment and work on devising a strategic roadmap on women’s economic empowerment, including women in STEM

Women, youth and vulnerable groups, namely Roma, constitute a topic of shared concern for all Western Balkan economies. High unemployment rate, negative demographic trends and aspirations towards emigration affect these groups the most. They are at particular risk of being excluded and suffer from structural inequalities across the region. Only 42% of working age women are employed compared to 60% of working age man, while 73% of man are active in the labour market compared to only 51% of women. Youth unemployment rate in the Western Balkans is 39% - more than double compared to 17% in the EU. Roma are also disproportionately affected by the dare situation, with employment rate at only 16.5%, labour participation rate at 31.5% , unemployment rate at 44.8%, and rate of youth aged 18-24 not in employment, education or training as high as 78.5%.

This requires stronger social integration in the societies and deeper engagement in the human capital development actions. Ensuing economic and health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbated socio-economic gaps and underlined already existing inequalities. Acting as a leading mechanism for regional cooperation in South East Europe, the RCC has taken over the task to encourage stronger engagement of women, youth and Roma and promote their leadership in social and economic development through its targeted actions in line with the European Pillar of Social Rights.

Contact Points

Elda Kalaja

Elda Kalaja

Head of Office of the Secretary General

+387 33 561 732

Ivana Petricevic

Ivana Petricevic

Senior Advisor

+32 2 210 50 45

Bojana Zorić

Bojana Zorić

Senior Policy Analyst

+387 33 561 715