Strengthening Accountability of Women and Young Political
Leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina
The United States Agency for International Development in Bosnia and Herzegovina (USAID/BiH) and Council of Europe implement 21 month program ―Strengthening Accountability of Women and Young Political Leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina.” The program started in September, 2011 and will last through June, 2013. Program activities focus on a two-pronged approach designed to support stronger involvement of women and youth in the political processes in BiH.
These activities focus on the following objectives:
1) Increase engagement of women in political processes; and
2) Create a new and more accountable generation of political party leadership.
The overarching goal of this program is to empower women and youth to take more active roles in political processes. The program will help create a new and more accountable generation of political party leadership in run up to the 2012 municipal elections and raise awareness of importance of women‘s role in political processes and improve their engagement in the political life.
Although women in BiH have achieved political power at a high level, they are still underrepresented in the public life and party leadership positions at both the national and regional level. Women‘s participation in political and public life is still very low. The root for this lays in strong cultural and social prejudice towards increasing women participation which continues to exist. Women are often perceived by political party leaders to be marginal to their overall aims of gaining and maintaining political power. Thus, this program places a considerable focus to raise awareness on the importance of the role of women in political processes by working with women civil society organizations and women candidates in advance of 2012 municipal elections.
Programmatic Approach and Expected Results and Illustrative Activities
Program activities will strengthen communication and political awareness among women and youth of different ethnic backgrounds. Because parties are usually more focused on more substantive governance issues at the municipal election, rather than the ethnic cleavages that dominate the national political debate in the country, the 2012 municipal elections provides a window of opportunity to empower youth and women to play a more significant role in the electoral and political processes.
Council of Europe will implement a series of mutually reinforcing activities and will achieve the following results:
Result 1. Improving participation of women in political processes
The program‘s goal is to raise awareness on the importance of women in the public and political life of BiH and increase their engagement particularly among women voters and women candidates.
The project will focus on the following illustrative activities in order to archive this result:
- Hosting of public debates throughout BiH. NGOs previously trained by the Council of Europe will hold at least 20 town hall meetings in both urban and rural areas. These meetings will include women, youth, entrepreneurs, educational institutions, local government representatives, and more.
- Conducting seminars on women in the public and political life will be held with young politicians in the CoE‘s School of Political Studies of BiH.
Result 2. Create a new and more accountable generation of political party leadership
The Political School of Council of Europe in BiH has been providing political education for younger political cadres since 2003. The School empowers young BiH politicians to gain knowledge in the areas important for the country to further its development toward the European Union and to take a more proactive role in the Council of Europe Association of countries. The intention of the seminars are to help young political leaders increase their understanding of politics, to work together, and to develop common ground on issues regardless of their political party or ethnic affiliation. Topics also include leadership, building dialogue between political parties, and empowering young women political leaders.