Bosnia and Herzegovina

Marginalised groups like women continue to be impacted by Bosnia and Herzegovina’s unique history.

By combining our parliamentary and political party expertise, Westminster Foundation for Democracy can help address this.

The extremely complex system of government which resulted from the legacy of the 1992-95 conflict has made governance in BiH extremely difficult. Most political parties remain divided along ethnic lines, for example. Over 20 years on, landmark milestones have been achieved, like the successful introduction of quotas which ensure each national group is represented fairly. As a result of this, though, politics tends to operate at a local rather than a national level. Not all parts of society are benefiting from this process.

WFD’s integrated programme ‘Promoting women in politics in Bosnia and Herzegovina’ aims to tackle the significant under-representation of women in different governmental bodies ahead of the local elections scheduled for later in 2016. WFD’s team, including representatives from the UK political parties, are working with female candidates, civil society and the media to boost confidence in women’s ability to effectively participate in politics. We are holding training workshops and public discussions while working with the media to ensure balanced media representation of women politician’s campaigns during the pre-election period. Moreover, through our party-to-party work WFD is engaging with the main political parties to ensure they are implementing their commitments toward gender equality.

Our work builds on a wealth of experience in the Bosnian context, working with civil society and political parties since 2003. WFD has tackled important issue-based and institutional-based themes such as encouraging greater consultation with citizens over policy, promoting human rights and legislative transparency, and creating a code of conduct for local councillors. The UK political parties have used thematic issues to develop important relationships with like-minded parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina since 2003. Better representation of youth and women in parties has been a crucial component of this work, as has supporting parties to communicate such messages ahead of local elections.

For example, the Labour Party worked closely with the Social Democratic Party of Bosnia and Herzegovina to build their capacity at engaging youth members in a 2003 programme. They like the other UK parties have gone on to develop strong party links through other projects since. The Liberal Democrats have a close alliance with the Nasa Stranka, developing their capacity for communications ahead of elections in 2010-11. The Conservative Party have developed a key partnership with the Party of Democratic Progress since 2005.

Featured image – flickr – chat des balkans