NATO-EU conference in Sarajevo: Women are still underrepresented in both politics and public life in Bosnia and Herzegovina

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A high-level conference on ‘Women, Peace and Security’ organized by NATO and the EU, in cooperation with the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, commenced on Monday, March 4 in Sarajevo. 

The two-day conference gathered partners, civil society representatives and academics to discuss the progress made in the Western Balkans since the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 was adopted back in 2000, with the aim to highlight the importance of women, peace and security, and enhance cooperation on tackling challenges ahead.

Participating in the first panel of the day, EEAS Principal Advisor on Gender, Ambassador Mara Marinaki reminded that each of the G7 members had selected a country for partnership on Women, Peace and Security as part of an initiative launched by the Canadian Presidency, with the EU being the only one to select a European country - Bosnia and Herzegovina. “We felt it has set an impressive track record on Women, Peace and Security until now, and we are proud that this cooperation is now starting”, Marinaki said.

The spirit of the milestone Resolution 1325 is that you cannot achieve something as elusive as peace and security without bringing on board all of the relevant stakeholders in every society, and this means men and boys, and also women and girls”, she explained.

Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to Bosnia and Herzegovina Khaldoun Sinno underlined that gender equality was a core value of the EU, enshrined within the EU legal and political framework.

Unfortunately, in Bosnia and Herzegovina today, women are still underrepresented in both politics and public life. This is why the EU attaches great importance to engaging women in social and political dialogues in order to amplify their voices concerning the future of the country”, said Sinno.

UK Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina Matthew Field said that the increased role of women was a key to achieving and maintaining peace and security. “There is no perfect country in this regard… We are all facing similar challenges, and we must work on them together”, said Field.

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NATO HQ Commander in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brigadier General Marti J. Bissell said that the EU and NATO were dedicated to gender equality. “NATO recognizes unequal influence of the conflict on women, and it calls on full and equal participation of women at all levels of prevention of conflict until the post-conflict reconstruction, as well as on protection of women and girls from sexual violence”, said Bissell.

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Representatives from each of the Western Balkans Six partners joined the conference. Following a series of panel discussions on the first day, the conference will continue on March 5 with roundtables on the establishment of local consultative mechanisms and on sexual exploitation and abuse.

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