Call for proposals – Building back equal, with and for Adolescent Girls

Building Back Equal, With and For Adolescent Girls: A Programme Strategy for UNICEF 2022-2025 builds on UNICEF’s Gender Action Plan 2022-2025. The strategy presents the case for investing even more deeply in adolescent girls, with an eye toward financing, as well as to expanding political will and context-relevant approaches that harness the power of UNICEF’s multi-sectoral and rights-based mandate. It looks at some of the many challenges adolescent girls face today, and explains why UNICEF, alongside its partners, is well-positioned to support adolescent girls to overcome these barriers. The strategy focuses on three intersecting areas:

  • Promoting adolescent girls’ health and nutrition,
  • Advancing adolescent girls’ right to quality education and to relevant learning and skills,
  • Protecting every adolescent girl from violence, exploitation, and abuse – online and offline – and preventing harmful practices.

While some progress has been made in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) towards achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls, significant gender inequalities persist. Deeply ingrained gender stereotypes and inadequate implementation of legislation and policies related to child rights contribute to these disparities.

The most marginalized girls, including those from minority groups, living in poverty, rural areas, with disabilities, or being refugees or migrants, face the greatest challenges and have their rights neglected. Limited evidence hinders a comprehensive understanding of the issues faced by adolescent girls, but consultations with children and adolescents, available data, and ongoing work highlight key challenges include violence, limited access to information and services, limited trust of institutions, mental health concerns, inadequate education and employment opportunities, and overall instability in BiH.

The demand for psychosocial support among children has significantly increased, evident from the doubling of calls and online chats received by the Plavi telefon (Bluephone) helpline in 2020 compared to 2019, in 2021 compared to 2020 and by a one-third increase registered in 2022 compared to the previous year  Adolescent girls are prominent users of this helpline, with mental health concerns such as fear, anxiety, depression, suicide, self-harm, and panic attacks accounting for 28% of the calls.  Children also seek support for various forms of violence, including domestic and peer violence, as well as the growing issue of digital violence.

Education quality in BiH is low, with students performing three years behind their peers in OECD countries, as revealed by international assessments like the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2018. While education policies ensure equal access for boys and girls, textbooks still promote gender bias, and certain occupations are perceived as more suitable for one gender over the other. Women remain underrepresented in STEM and ICT industries, despite the growing demand for skilled labor. Furthermore, BiH experiences significant outward migration, with approximately 170,000 people emigrating in 2021 and almost half a million since 2013. The lack of stability, limited job and career prospects, and challenging family financial situations are the primary drivers of migration among young people.

Engaging certain institutions in discussions about gender can be challenging due to political sensitivity. However, UNICEF is well-positioned to drive progress, leveraging its expertise, existing programs, and partnerships in the country.

The UNICEF Adolescent Girls program in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is built on the views and priorities of adolescents. Through this work, UNICEF aims to enhance the capacities of young people, CSOs and NGOs to co-create solutions to the challenges faced by adolescents. The programme focuses on strengthening mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) services, raising awareness on gender, rights, MHPSS, and violence against children in schools, and improving the legal framework and data availability.

Expected activities and results – Overall objective of this Call is to facilitate specific and targeted actions that promote adolescent girls’ health, nutrition, learning, and skills, as well as protection against violence, exploitation, abuse, and harmful practices. Under this call, your proposed project must contribute to one or more of the following priority areas:

  • Promoting adolescent girls’ health and nutrition,
  • Advancing adolescent girls’ right to quality education and to relevant learning and skills,
  • Protecting every adolescent girl from violence, exploitation, and abuse – online and offline – and preventing harmful practices.

This call for proposals aims to support grassroot youth-led, women/girls led organizations working with and for adolescents and youth. Hence the small local organizations are encouraged to apply. The interested organizations are expected to demonstrate innovative and practical approaches, through community engagement, addressing the above listed priority areas, while including adolescents and young people throughout the project cycle.

The deadline for submission of proposals is October 31st, 2023.

Key focus should be put on reaching marginalized and hard to reach groups of adolescents and young people, in particular adolescent girls and young women (minorities, adolescents and youth living in remote areas, socio-economically deprived, living with disabilities, etc.), and engaging them in design, implementation and evaluation of the project outcomes. The proposals need to show how the proposed activities will promote girls’ leadership, voice and agency as a catalyst for their inclusion and participation across all sectors and contexts.

Other information:

  • Duration: up to six months, November 2023 – May 2024
  • Maximum amount available for project implementation (per organization): 15,000 BAM
  • Proposals demonstrating meaningful adolescent and youth engagement will be given advantage.
  • Proposals demonstrating meaningful engagement with marginalized and hard to reach groups of adolescents and young people will be given advantage.
  • Applicants should showcase financial and non-financial contributions to the proposed project implementation.


  • Interested organizations need to register on the UN Partnership Portal (UNPP) and submit their applications through the portal.
  • Orientation call for registration and submission of proposals through the UNPP will be organized on October 19th 2023.
  • Please announce your attendance via email and you will receive the link.

Eligibility criteria – CSO must:

  • be registered in Bosnia and Herzegovina;
  • not be an entity named on any of the UN Security Council targeted sanction lists.

Exclusion criteria – CSO submission which will e wxcluded from selection process:

  • are not sent to the UNICEF office before the specified deadline;
  • do not include all required documents duly completed and signed or do not comply with specifications set in this Call for Expression of Interest;
  • are not submitted in English.
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