The Women of Bosnia and Herzegovina

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Equality Laws

The Constitution of BiH forbids discrimination of any kind, which includes on the basis of sex. Years later, Bosnia and Herzegovina adopted the Law on Gender Equality in 2003. The law “shall regulate, promote and protect gender equality, guarantee equal opportunities and equal treatment of all persons regardless of gender in public and private sphere of society, and regulate protection from discrimination on grounds of gender.” This law then authorized the establishment of the Gender Equality Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina within the Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees to organize and monitor the law and also the development of a national Gender Action Plan. Although according to a report from the U.S. Department of State’s 2013 Country Report, they found that discrimination against women in the workplace is still happening, but some progress has been made due to the Gender Action Plan. The Gender Action Plan is supposed to be the guide to improvement of the status of women. (source)

Women’s Rights and Social Status

Although the gender equality laws have showed some sign of progress, real change in the practice is actually going slow. Women in BiH are exposed to double discrimination, mostly because of disability and race, but also including social status, age, or because they live in rural areas. It is known that many young women are not given a job opportunity because the employer is worried about them becoming pregnant. This happens to be an issue that has become a huge practice and remains unreported. The laws don’t necessarily follow through with its policies as strictly as they should which causes room for discrimination. The BiH Parliamentary Assembly adopted the Gender Equality Law, but still continues to reject proposals from the women’s NGO’s to increase gender quota in the Election Law. (source)

Education for Girls

According to a 2003 report by United Nations’ Children’s Agency, female education is usually neglected in rural areas. Poor families will usually send boys to school rather than girls. It is expected for male education to be pursued, but thats not the same situation for girls. More so, they are expected to stay at home and learn the roles of being a housewife and mother. The unwillingness to send girls off to school is driven by poverty. (source)

Violence Against Women 

The most visible form of violence against women in BiH is domestic violence because it is socially acceptable for husbands to beat their wives. Many women tend to remain in the abusive environment that they are in because there is a lack of support from the official system. It has become a trend for police officers and social workers to tell women to make up with their husbands for the sake of keeping the family together. Another form of violence is sexual abuse towards young girls. Women’s NGOs in BiH are trying to bring awareness to this situation but are struggling to succeed. (source)

Because of poverty and tradition, women are made to feel inferior. And although there have been steps taken to fix these problems, progress is moving at a slow pace and there are still ways to work around the system in order for men to get away with being discriminate against women.



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