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When the time comes for having children, too many women still face a difficult decision: career or family. Combining both priorities is challenging when childcare is unavailable, parental leave is limited and flexible work arrangements are rare. The result is that many women either end up with fewer children than they want, or are unable to fulfil their career potential. 

Both outcomes have negative repercussions, not only for individual women who are left with fewer choices and opportunities, but also for society as a whole. When millions of women are in effect forced to give up their careers to take care of children and the household, their talents and other contributions remain untapped in the economy and public life. And when millions of women can’t have the number of children they want because that would in effect end their careers, the resulting low birth rates add further pressure on population numbers already in decline.
This is why UNFPA, with support from the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), is partnering with the private sector and governments to champion gender-responsive family policies in the Western Balkans and Moldova. Evidence shows that such policies – both at the national level and those implemented by the private sector – are powerful tools to shift discriminatory gender norms and redistribute unpaid care work so that both men and women can realize their career aspirations and their fertility intentions.

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Video on Family-Friendly Workplaces


The Expanding Choices programme strives to develop and share knowledge, evidence and tools around family-friendly policies to support and further scale this work in the region. A number of assessments, case studies and reports have been undertaken and authored through this programme and can be found below.