Full inclusion of women from across society is critical to U.S. foreign policy objectives and imperative for the economic growth and stability of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). Women are important as agents of peace, reconciliation, economic development, and stability. Although BiH has made progress in promoting gender equality through legal and institutional frameworks, many BiH women still face numerous challenges to achieving full political, economic, and social participation for themselves and their families. The economic status of BiH women remains low, and women are largely absent from national and local decision-making bodies.
USAID addresses gender equality in BiH through its democracy and governance and economic growth programs. Some of these programs are described below.
Women’s Political Participation
- The Political Processes Support program will increase women’s political participation at the local and national level to develop a cadre of women leaders in the community by providing training on how to run for office and engage in politics. This project helped establish the first-ever Women’s Caucus in the Federation of BiH Parliament in 2014.
- The PRO-Future project helps women victims of war and other trauma to heal, raise self-esteem and become leaders in reconciliation processes in their communities. The project provides training – on social justice, peace building, advocacy, etc. – for women through Associations of Parent-Student Councils. The new knowledge empowers these women to organize, initiate and engage in dialogue and advocacy campaigns to promote reconciliation in the community.
Women’s Entrepreneurship and Other Employment Opportunities
- The Partnership for Innovation activity supports women’s economic empowerment by enhancing their skills and knowledge in information and communications technologies (ICT). The project engages leaders of women-owned and -managed businesses to be role models and mentors, to help young women entrepreneurs access ICT markets, communicate with customers and provide new channels for buying and selling products.
- The Growth-Oriented Local Development project promotes economic opportunities for women through activities that include gender sensitivity training programs for municipal offices and target women municipal staff and women-owned enterprises in capacity building programs.
- The USAID-supported Women’s Business Network helps BiH women improve the management of their enterprises.
Gender Equality and Human Rights
- The Civil Society Sustainability Project supports NGO network WomenNet to advocate for physical and legal protection of women victims of domestic violence, gender-equal hiring practices, and implementation of gender equality laws. The project raises awareness about women’s rights, particularly among women who suffer from “multiple” discrimination, such as Romani, lesbian, transgender, older, and rural women, as well as those with disabilities. It also advocates for government-funded safe houses for victims of domestic violence.
- The Equality for All: Civil Society Coalition Against Discrimination project helps women influence and improve anti-discrimination policies and practices, and advocate for implementation and compliance with existing gender equality laws.
- The Education for a Just Society project develops and introduces an open curriculum with anti-bias educational materials in elementary schools so pupils learn without gender biases. Through open curriculum lessons and critical inquiry of traditional texts and media, the project actively promotes gender integration and equity.
Last updated: March 19, 2015