Shishi's Journey Towards Independence and Advocacy

© Majda Balić/IOM Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2024

Sarajevo - Amidst the sunny Ušivak Temporary Center near Sarajevo, Shishi emerges as a powerful force, whose resilience and determination have propelled her through the arduous path of seeking refuge and championing women's rights.

Shishi arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina nearly four months ago, fleeing from a life of hardship in Iran. In her homeland, the struggle for women's rights and equality was an ongoing battle, prompting her decision to leave in pursuit of a better life.

Leaving her family behind, Shishi embarked on a journey through Türkiye before reaching Bosnia and Herzegovina. Navigating hazardous paths, Shishi faced the challenges of irregular migration routes as a lone woman.

"It is really hard for a woman to go through this road alone, because everything is dangerous. Some people, especially smugglers, want to use us, particularly when they see a woman alone", confided Shishi.

Shishi 2

© Majda Balić/IOM Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2024

Yet, she emerged resilient, her journey highlighting the perilous nature faced by women during border crossings and emphasizing the crucial need for gender-responsive safe and regular migration pathways.

Shishi's journey reflects a personal evolution, shifting from a decade-long career as an accountant in Iran to newfound passion for law. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Tourism management, she wishes to continue her education and acquire a Master’s degree. Having initially pursued studies in Türkiye, Shishi realized the cultural obstacles impeding her progress. Undeterred, she redirected her path to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Her personal story back in Iran and her journey led her to envision a future where she advocates for women's rights globally: "Now that I am here, I realized that I would like to be a lawyer, protect women all over the world".

Despite the hardships and driven by a deep sense of responsibility, Shishi remains deeply connected to her roots. Her ultimate goal is to return to Iran as an advocate for positive change. Her vision extends beyond borders, with a commitment to becoming an international voice shedding light on the challenges faced by Iranian women.

"The most important thing for me is to speak about women in Iran, their rights, conditions and difficulties", told us Shishi.

During her stay in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the No Nation Fashion initiative became a poignant marker of Shishi’s journey. Her participation in various workshops in the Temporary Reception Center Ušivak, highlights her commitment to sharing her story and breaking down cultural barriers, while gaining a sense of empowerment: "It is meaningful for me because at least I can have a voice as a woman in another country, I can speak to someone who didn't know anything about my country and my situation".

Shishi 3

© Majda Balić/IOM Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2024

Shishi encourages women to embrace independence and confidence, empowering themselves in the face of adversity. She shares her belief that being strong and resilient is crucial for navigating the challenges encountered during migration.

"I think women should be more powerful. Up to now I could achieve many things because I always thought that I am a woman and I can do everything like a man. Nothing is impossible", concluded Shishi.

Shishi's journey is a testament to the strength within every woman. On this International Women's Day, let us celebrate Shishi's courage and resilience.

Written by François Lhoumeau, for more information please contact