Despite it now being over 25 years since the end of the Bosnian War, Bosnia and Herzegovina continues to struggle with its consequences.
Beginning in 1992, the war came in the wake of the dissolution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and devastated the country in multiple ways.
The war was marked by enforced disappearances, genocide, ethnic cleansing, rape, and massive destruction of the country’s infrastructure. Over 100,000 Bosnians were killed and two million more displaced.
The Bosnian War ended in 1995 with the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA), which was negotiated between the international community and the ethno-nationalists that led the country into war. Apart from the warring parties, the negotiation process excluded everybody else.
Whilst it ended the war, the DPA failed to create mechanisms for sustainable peace. It deepened and institutionalised the divisions created by the war and enabled ethno-nationalist political elites to continue furthering those divisions, all while financially profiting from them.
Today, as Bosnia and Herzegovina navigates through multiple crises and neoliberal onslaught of its social infrastructure, the country is at risk of socioeconomic collapse.
Dismantling of labour rights, high unemployment rates, destruction of the healthcare and educational systems, gender-based violence, and dysfunctional political institutions unable to formulate policies to advance social justice and equality are just a few of the issues affecting the daily lives and well-being of the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Women and girls are being disproportionately impacted by these challenges.
Since 2013, WILPF has been working in Bosnia and Herzegovina to advance understanding and notions of social justice and equality.
Our work in the country is focused on networking with women activists and feminist organisations, creating spaces for dialogue on post-war reconstruction and recovery, and shaping feminist alternatives to the current neoliberal political economy.
WILPF has also created feminist solidarity dialogues through which analyses and experiences from Bosnia and Herzegovina were shared with countries in similar situations.
WILPF uses feminist analysis to argue that militarisation is a counter-productive and ill-conceived response to establishing security in the world. The more society becomes militarised, the more violence and injustice are likely to grow locally and worldwide.
Sixteen states are believed to have supplied weapons to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020 with the US supplying 74 % of weapons, followed by Russia. Much of this equipment was left behind by the US military and is being used to inflate Taliban’s arsenal. WILPF is calling for better oversight on arms movement, for compensating affected Afghan people and for an end to all militarised systems.
Mobilising men and boys around feminist peace has been one way of deconstructing and redefining masculinities. WILPF shares a feminist analysis on the links between militarism, masculinities, peace and security. We explore opportunities for strengthening activists’ action to build equal partnerships among women and men for gender equality.
WILPF has been working on challenging the prevailing notion of masculinity based on men’s physical and social superiority to, and dominance of, women in Afghanistan. It recognizes that these notions are not representative of all Afghan men, contrary to the publicly prevailing notion.
In WILPF’s view, any process towards establishing peace that has not been partly designed by women remains deficient. Beyond bringing perspectives that encapsulate the views of half of the society and unlike the men only designed processes, women’s true and meaningful participation allows the situation to improve.
In Afghanistan, WILPF has been demanding that women occupy the front seats at the negotiating tables. The experience of the past 20 has shown that women’s presence produces more sustainable solutions when they are empowered and enabled to play a role.