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Bosnia and Herzegovina

Image: Alternative CEDAW Report: Position of women in BiH

Alternative CEDAW Report: Position of women in BiH

The issues of gender equality, realization of women's human rights in public and private spheres, and the application of domestic laws and international obligations, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of discrimination against Women (CEDAW), have been pushed into the background in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a country still burdened by ethnic and national divisions, which hinder the social, economic and political development, and dominate the public discourse.

Thursday, 16 December 2010, by Based on the Alternative Report for CEDAW

The Alternative Report is the result of joint action of women's NGOs in BiH, under the coordination and support of the NGOs Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Banja Luka and Rights for All from Sarajevo, who jointly collected data, analyzed the situation and defined the key recommendations in the areas that require urgent, continuous, systematic and system-related actions by government institutions at all levels in BiH in order to improve the actual situation and provide women of BiH a nondiscriminatory approach to exercising their rights.

‘’The current trends of promoting and supporting the realization of women's human rights provide only short-term results, as the changes are only visible at the legislative level, without having a real change happening in attitudes and understanding of gender roles in BiH society’’, it is stated in the Report.

Stereotyped gender roles continue to be the determining factor in choice of profession and employment of women, and there is a growing trend for women to get educated and employed in the services sector. A large number of women in BiH is employed in the informal economy in catering, tourism, and trade industries, and have a limited access to managerial and other well-paid positions on the labor market.   

Trafficking in BiH has not been eradicated, it only changed its mode of action since 2006, as the victims are now young girls, BiH citizens, who are sexually exploited in motels, private houses and cottages, or taken to foreign countries. Additional difficulty for the prevention of trafficking is also uncoordinated legal framework that regulates this matter, and the fact that the State failed to establish a system of effective prosecution of criminals responsible for trafficking.

Violence against women, especially domestic violence, continues to be a widespread social problem in BiH, and serious violation of fundamental human rights and freedom of female violence victims/survivors. Despite intensive advocacy activities of NGOs across the country aimed at improving the legal and actual protection of women against violence in public and private spheres, this type of violence is still seen and tolerated as a "socially acceptable behavior", and is justified by the traditional and patriarchal conceptions of the role and status of women in BiH society.

BiH still does not have a unified system of collecting and analyzing statistical data on domestic violence against women, both at the entity level and at the State level, as well as institutional services that would be able to provide comprehensive, sensitized, and professional support to women victims of domestic and other forms of gender-based violence. Although both entities adopted specific legislation on protection from domestic violence in 2005, the provisions of these laws have not been harmonized. Such situation causes legal  security, unequal treatment before the law, and inability to provide appropriate protection to women and children victims of violence.

Discrimination against Roma women in exercising their right to education, employment, health and social care, as well as other rights contributes to their social exclusion in BiH. In general, a large number of Roma girls does not attend school and is mostly illiterate. Without formal education, Roma women have no chance to be employed, and therefore, have no chance to survive outside their communities, as they are totally economically dependent on their families, and very often exposed to various forms of violence. Public policies adopted by BiH in the field of gender equality and protecting women's human rights neither recognize the problems and needs of Roma women, nor provide for special measures aimed at prevention and elimination of double discrimination that Roma women are subjected to in BiH.

BiH made a significant progress with the adoption of the Gender Action Plan in 2006, and the adoption of strategies and action plans at the state and entity levels aimed at promoting and realizing gender equality, and combating violence against women. These measures are supposed to lead to real changes in the status of women, and realization of their basic human rights in BiH.

However, despite the progress that has been realized in regards to development of the formal and legal framework and public policies in the field of promoting and protecting women's human rights, women in BiH do not have equal opportunities to participate and are underrepresented in political decision-making within the legislative, executive and judicial authorities at all levels. The State has failed to ensure the harmonization of the BiH Election Law with the Law on Gender Equality in BiH.

Full Alternative Report is attached to the article.

Based on the Alternative Report for CEDAW

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CEDAW Alternative Report

Full Alternative Report for CEDAW
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