Bosnia and Herzegovina

WILPF
in Bosnia and Herzegovina

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.

Peace
in Bosnia and Herzegovina

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.

THE
Peace
THAT IS NOT:
25 YEARS OF EXPERIMENTING
WITH PEACE IN BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

Discover “The Peace That is Not: 25 years of Experimenting with Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, a series of essays from two local feminists, Nela Porobić and Gorana Mlinarević, who tell a story of a country 25 years into its peacebuilding efforts—a story that goes beyond mainstream interpretations, narratives, and understandings of the peace agreement and its consequences for the country.

Have a look at our event organised as part of the launch of the essay series “The Peace That is Not: 25 years of Experimenting with Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina”.

The event took place on 5 July 2022, and our secretary general Madeleine Rees and renowned feminist writer, theorist, and professor, Cynthia Enloe, engaged in a discussion with the authors of the essays – Nela Porobić and Gorana Mlinarević – on the process of writing them and some of the key takeaways.

Publications

The Peace That is Not

December 2021

Last year Bosnia and Herzegovina marked 25 since the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement. Today the impact of that peace agreement is more tangible than ever. The political and economic situation in the country is highly precarious. We have asked two local peace activists, Gorana Mlinarević and Nela Porobić, to reflect on how the process of peacebuilding has looked like and what have been its effect on the everyday lives of the people.

Read their feminist reflections in this series of nine essays that deconstruct the neocolonial, patriarchal, and militant framework of the Dayton Peace Agreement and help put the current situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina in a geopolitical and economic context.

Policy brief: A new constitution for Bosnia and Herzegovina

July 2021

Since the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA) and the imposition of the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), the country has seen several failed attempts to amend the Constitution and the Election Law. All of these processes have been deeply exclusionary and corrupt. Each time, these processes have been facilitated by parts of the international community in cooperation with ethno-nationalist elites that are doing all they can to remain in power and continue exploiting us and our common goods…

Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review of Bosnia and Herzegovina

August 2019

This submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) analyses the impact that economic reforms have had on economic, social and cultural rights in BiH. The submission brings to the surface the shrinking space for activism in the country and the increased repressive measures towards human rights defenders, activists and civil society in general. Lastly, it addresses violations of the rights of migrants and asylum seekers.

A Feminist Perspective on Post-Conflict Restructuring and Recovery – the Case of Bosnia and Herzegovina

August 2017

In the report, we argue that an economic reform agenda introduced in a post-conflict country that is not underpinned by a rigorous feminist conflict and gender analysis, will contribute to a continuum of entrenched structural and gender inequalities. The report focuses on the Reform Agenda for Bosnia and Herzegovina as the content of the reforms is a prime example of a prevailing austerity paradigm seen across Europe.

From War to Sustainable Peace: A Solidarity Dialogue between Bosnian and Ukrainian Women Activists

June 2016

This is a report of the views and opinions expressed by women activists from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Ukraine at the Solidarity Dialogue in Sarajevo to share experience and contribute to a better understanding of women’s contribution to conflict and post-conflict transition.

An analysis of the peace agreement: A Feminist (Re)Interpretation of the Dayton Peace Accords

December 2015

The Development of a Gender-Sensitive Reparations Programme

July 2015

The report discusses gender dimensions of wartime harms and violations of human rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and puts forward a concept and framework for how gender-sensitive reparations programme for civilian victims of war in the country could be developed. The report looks at potential beneficiaries of such a program, discusses how reparative measures could look like and discusses financial implications of such a programme.

Women Organising for Change in Syria and Bosnia

March 2014

As part of WILPF’s initiative “Women Organising for Change in Syria and Bosnia” a feminist solidarity conference between women activists from Syria and Bosnia was held from 10-14th of February 2014 in Sarajevo, Bosnia. This is a complete report of the conference.

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Additional Resources

Latest News

28 June 2022
4min
Press Release
#BosniaAndHerzegovina

The Peace That is Not: Understanding Why Peacebuilding Has Failed in Bosnia and Herzegovina  

2 September 2019
5min
News
#FeministPeace

Syria-Bosnia Feminist Solidary Dialogue 2.0

1 May 2019
2min
News
#Syria #Bosnia

Linking Bosnian Post-Conflict Learnings to Syria

Melissa Torres

VICE-PRESIDENT

Prior to being elected Vice-President, Melissa Torres was the WILPF US International Board Member from 2015 to 2018. Melissa joined WILPF in 2011 when she was selected as a Delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women as part of WILPF US’ Practicum in Advocacy Programme at the United Nations. She holds a PhD in Social Work and currently works at the University of Texas as the Director of Human Trafficking Research at one of the university’s think tanks. Of Mexican descent, born on the US and Mexican border, and raised between the two countries, Melissa is mostly concerned with the protection of displaced Latinxs in the Americas. She is also involved with the American Red Cross as a volunteer, trainer, and researcher focused on post-disaster aid distribution and work with undocumented Latinxs. Some of her goals as Vice-President are to highlight intersectionality and increase diversity by fostering inclusive spaces for mentorship and leadership. She also contributes to WILPF’s emerging work on the topic of displacement and migration.

Jamila Afghani

VICE-PRESIDENT

Jamila Afghani is the President of WILPF Afghanistan which she started in 2015. She is also an active member and founder of several organisations including the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organisation (NECDO). Elected in 2018 as South Asia Regional Representative to WILPF’s International Board, WILPF benefits from Jamila’s work experience in education, migration, gender, including gender-based violence and democratic governance in post-conflict and transitional countries.

Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo

PRESIDENT

Sylvie Jacqueline NDONGMO is a human rights and peace leader with over 27 years experience including ten within WILPF. She has a multi-disciplinary background with a track record of multiple socio-economic development projects implemented to improve policies, practices and peace-oriented actions. Sylvie is the founder of WILPF Cameroon and was the Section’s president until 2022. She co-coordinated the African Working Group before her election as Africa Representative to WILPF’s International Board in 2018. A teacher by profession and an African Union Trainer in peace support operations, Sylvie has extensive experience advocating for the political and social rights of women in Africa and worldwide.

WILPF Afghanistan

In response to the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and its targeted attacks on civil society members, WILPF Afghanistan issued several statements calling on the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan people and ensure that their rights be upheld, including access to aid. The Section also published 100 Untold Stories of War and Peace, a compilation of true stories that highlight the effects of war and militarisation on the region. 

IPB Congress Barcelona

WILPF Germany (+Young WILPF network), WILPF Spain and MENA Regional Representative

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Demilitarisation

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.

Militarised masculinity

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.

Feminist peace​

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.

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