Academic journal article Connections : The Quarterly Journal

Gender Mainstreaming of the Security Sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina: From the Policy Papers to Reality

Academic journal article Connections : The Quarterly Journal

Gender Mainstreaming of the Security Sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina: From the Policy Papers to Reality

Article excerpt

It is not enough to have knowledge, one must also apply it. It is not enough to have wishes, one must also act.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Introduction

Gender mainstreaming* 1 of the security sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) twenty years ago was perceived as a "foreign" syntagma and proved very difficult to translate into the three official languages (Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian). The challenge was not only translation but also the transposition of that concept into reality. The link between the concept of gender mainstreaming and security sector tasks and responsibilities was a new topic for BiH society as well as globally. As a post-conflict country, in the last twenty years Bosnia and Herzegovina has gone through reforms in different areas such as police, intelligence, justice, etc. Those reforms were intensified in the period from 2003 until 2008 in the framework of the BiH integration process into the European Union and NATO. At that time, neither the BiH political elite nor representatives of the international community were aware of the benefits of the integration of the gender con- cept in those nor in other reforms in the country. It was women's organizations that started familiarizing the BiH public with the importance of including and applying the concept of gender in security sector reforms, namely to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (UNSCR 1325).2 They first gained financial support from the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and other UN organizations in order to implement different programs and projects. Those efforts, commitments, and the influence of these women's organizations led to the government at all levels in Bosnia and Herzegovina establishing in 2003 official gender mechanisms such as the Gender Center of Government of Federation, the Gender Center of Government of Republic Srpska and, in 2004, the Gender Equality Agency at the national level. Their establishment came at a crucial moment for the institutionalization of gender mainstreaming in all areas of public and private life in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Only a few years after those gender mechanisms were established they were applied in the drafting of two strategic documents, the Gender Action Plan (GAP)3 for the period 2006-2013 and an Action Plan for the implementation of UNSCR 1325 in Bosnia and Herzegovina (AP 1325)4 for a period of three years (20102013). Those two documents were not imposed or drafted externally, which was the case with many other documents in Bosnia and Herzegovina from that period. They were produced by the representatives of BiH institutions together with the representatives of NGOs according to local priorities and needs, an important precondition for local ownership and sustainability of the whole process. Because of this, many were hopeful that enacting these documents would have a real and positive effect on the lives of men, women, and children throughout the country.

In this article I first give a brief overview of the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina before those national policy documents were adopted and of the post-adoption period. Second, my intention is to analyze the reasons why the adoption of AP 1325 was perceived as a big success in the country as well as the region and at a global level. Third, because I was personally involved in the implementation of the first AP 1325 on behalf of the Ministry of Security and in the drafting of the second AP 1325, my focus will be on the achievements of the Ministry of Security in the implementation process of AP 1325 as well as my personal experience with gender mainstreaming of the security sector in BiH. Finally, in my conclusion I examine the main lessons learned, current challenges, and present my personal view of how the envisaged goals from the documents can bring meaningful and real change to the daily lives of all people in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Period Before AP 1325: The Role of Civil Society and International Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Between 2005 and 2007, or almost five years before the implementation of UNSCR 1325, women's advocacy groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina relied on raising awareness through public and media presentations to demonstrate the importance of their implementation in the country. …

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