Forum on gender equality in political parties, organized by the Committee on Gender Equality of the House of Representatives BiH PA and the Agency for Gender Equality BiH in cooperation with the OSCE Mission, was organised on May 7 2014.
The Director of the Agency for gender equality in BiH Samra Filipović-Hadžiabdić said that the Agency, within its mandate, carefully monitors results of all election processes and regularly suggests interventions when it comes to increasing the number of women in decision-making positions in both the legislative and executive branches of power.
According to her, the Agency and the Committee on Gender Equality of the House of Representatives BiH PA submitted two proposals for amending the Electoral law in BiH which were “recently amended and adopted regarding the increase in electoral quota to 40 percent for the less represented gender”. She also said that, even though they are not satisfied with the present situation, women are more and more represented in the Parliamentary Assembly.
She announced that at the end of today’s Forum, a Gender Equality Pledge for political parties was presented. It refers to the commitment of political parties, primarily leaders, on introducing elements of gender equality in work programs of political parties,” Filipovic-Hadžiabdic stated.
The Pledge was finalized following open consultations with civil society organizations.
“The OSCE commends the BiH Gender Equality Agency for its initiative and invites all political parties to sign the pledge and advance gender equality in BiH”. Suomalainen said. The Gender Equality Agency and the OSCE Mission are also partnering to provide training for approximately 400 women candidates running for offices at different levels across BiH. The trainings will focus specifically on campaign and outreach tools aiming to increase women candidates’ access to potential voters.
“Equality between women and men is one of the European Union's founding values. It goes back to 1957 when the principle of equal pay for equal work became part of the Treaty of Rome”, said Thomas Busch, head of Political office at the Delegation of the EU in BiH. “It is widely acknowledged that Gender Equality is not only crucial in itself but is a fundamental human right and a question of social justice. Furthermore, Gender Equality is essential for growth and poverty reduction.”
Member of the Committee on Gender Equality of the House of Representatives BiH PA Nermina Zaimovic-Uzunovic said that this Committee will be remembered by its achievement in increasing the participation of women on electoral lists to 40 percent, the so called “women quota”. “But no one forbids political parties to nominate even a greater percentage of women. In the previous elections we had a similar case where one canton had more than 50 percent of women candidates which was surprising,” Zaimovic- Uzunovic said.
Gender equality Councillor in OSCE’s Office for human rights and democracy inWarsaw, Ajla van Heel Merdanovic, said that 57 member countries, including BiH, gave them the mandate to promote women participation in politics.
“Having 22 percent of women representatives in the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH, our country is below average in the OSCE region and below international standards, which it has committed to implement. These 22 percent are below the goal of 30 percent of women holding power in legislative bodies, prescribed by the Beijing Platform. That is below the quota recommended by the Council of Europe of a minimum 40 percent of women,” Ajla van Heel Merdanovic said.