Examples of good practices - What can we learn from each other?

KT Katarina Tadic Public Seen by 313

Adnan Kadribasic Thu 5 Apr 2018 12:22PM

Although many will still claim that the Election Law of Bosnia and Herzegovina should be amended to increase the number of women in parliaments I believe that the way how we structured our "gender quota" is one of the best. Bellow is my brief analysis on the quota and the latest developments.

Adoption of appropriate measures to ensure that women, on equal terms with men, have the right to be eligible for election to all publicly elected bodies and to hold public office and perform all public functions at all levels of government is one of the key obligations of State parties to the UN’s Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. With the rising attention and the importance of electoral institutions most countries have introduced affirmative action measures. Introduction of gender quotas in election systems is one of the most popular response in more than 100 countries worldwide including 26 with legislated quotas.

Gender quotas are part of the electoral system landscape of Bosnia and Herzegovina since 1998. According to Article 4.19 of the Election Law of Bosnia and Herzegovina, each party has to present lists of candidates with at least 40% of candidates of the unrepresented sex with a mandatory ranking rule (“the zipper system”) to be able to participate in the elections.

Article 4.19, Election Law of BiH
"Each list of candidates shall include both male and female candidates, who are equally represented. Equal gender representation exists when one of the sexes is represented by at least 40% of the total number of candidates in the list.
The candidates of the underrepresented gender shall be distributed on the candidates list in the following manner: At least 1 candidate of the underrepresented gender amongst the first 2 candidates, 2 candidates of the underrepresented gender amongst the first 5 candidates, and 3 candidates of the underrepresented gender amongst the first 8 candidates etc."

There is enough evidence that quotas such as this one are affected by a number of factors and most predominantly the design of the electoral system and gender stereotypes which exist in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The impact of these factors has been measured by several authors. According to these assessments some 15-20% of mandates can be considered “lost” for women. This no surprise if we consider the fact that gender stereotypes continue to play a significant role in political, economic, and private life, undermining the promotion of gender equality. According to a study from 2016 about half of the male respondents and a little over 30% of women in Bosnia and Herzegovina believed that men make better political leaders and should be elected.

These are the reason why women continue to be underrepresented in parliaments in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Women make 23.81% MPs in the House of Representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH, 21.43% MPs in the Parliament of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) and 14.45% MPs in the National Assembly of the Republika Srpska (RS). At the cantonal and local level (municipalities and cities) women make approximately 18% of local municipal councilors. According to IPU, BIH is currently ranked 84th in the world. This close to the world average of 23.4%, under the European average 26.4% and even bellow the former Yugoslav countries average (BiH, Croatia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia) which is at 25%.

There were several attempts to amended the Election Law which aimed to increase the number of women elected such as the proposal to introduce the closed list system, parity on list and even combinations with the „lucky looser system“. The Election Law was only amended to introduce the 40% quota (instead of the 33%) in 2013 with almost no impact on the number of women elected.

The Election Law of Bosnia and Herzegovina was last time amended in 2016 and has affected how mandates are allocated after the elections. According to this rule only those candidate who won more than 20% of votes will be able to move up their list. If not, the mandates will be allocated according to their ranking on the list of candidates. According to this rule, the openness of the list is limited to the 20% threshold.

There are no evidence that the aim of these amendments was to impact the participation of women. The explanatory memorandum contains no legislative or gender impact analysis. On the contrary, the proponent intended to delete the ranking order rule (“the zipper system”) a threat which was diverted.

The Legislative/Gender Impact Analysis of the 2016 amendments
This article aims to assess the impact of the 2016 amendments of the impact of article 4.19 on the overall participation of women in legislatures. It is based on the application of the new rule on the results of General elections 2014. The assessed impact is different when applied on the results for legislatures on different levels of government.

At the level of the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH the impact is gender neutral. The open list system has allowed the electorate to affect the ranking of 5 candidates (4 in favor of men and 1 in favor of a woman). However, all of these candidates have received over 20% as defined by the new rule and would their mandate would not be impacted.

At the level of Parliament of FBIH and the National Assembly of RS, the new rule will increase the impact of Article 4.19. At the Parliament of FBIH, the assessed increase amounts to 5 mandates for female candidates or the overall increase of 5%. At the National Assembly of RS the assessed increase amounts to 3 mandates for female candidates or the overall increase of 2.5%.

At the cantonal assemblies the new rule will significantly increase the impact of Article 4.19. At this level of governance, the cantons make the election unit and the impact of the gender quota from the Article 4.19 is affected only by the open list system and the number of political parties with elected candidates. The average increase in favor of female candidates’ amounts to 16% for all 10 cantons and the overall participation of women would increase to 34%. The situation would differ from a canton to another and the assessed percentages would start at 8% and would go as high as 49%.

Any comment is more than welcome.


Erblin Ajdini Thu 5 Apr 2018 12:25PM

Hi everyone! I am Erblin Ajdini from Kosovo and I work for gender mainstreaming in a local NGO in Pristina. Since I wanted to contribute for the topic of gender equality in this group I wanted to share the gender mainstreaming manual that I use in my everyday work with labor unions, CSOs and public institutions. (please find below the link).

Link: http://www.ngo-pen.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Gender_Mainstreaming_Manual.pdf


Lamija Sat 7 Apr 2018 2:07PM

I am Lamija Subašić from BiH and first I would like to thank both - the Civil Society Forum and Katarina Tadić - for conducting online consultation. It represents really a great opportunity for giving inputs.

The following regards the gender issues in the context of higher education institutions (HEIs) in the Western Balkans countries.

Here, I will present three different but connected proposals:

  • 1st Proposal: Higher education institutions should be instigated to make gender statistics (not only to provide a number of their female employees, but to give this number divided into groups according to female employees' scientific titles (assistants, senior assistants, scientific councilors, scientific associates, research associates, expert associates, senior scientific associate, assistant professors, accociate professors, full professors or others), who are engaged in the teaching process and research.

Having only the total number of employees and dividing it into two groups: men and women, simply is not enough. It does not show a real state of affairs. It seems women are there, but it is not obvious that they are mostly engaged as administrative staff with much lower wages than they male colleagues. Once when HEIs develope and start creating gender statistic on annual basis, the next step will be to use it as a part of institutional mechanisms for further development of gender equality policies of HEIs.
I wrote this, since recently my colleague and I conducted a research and established that only a very low number of women, comparing to the total number of employees, has been engaged in the teaching and research process within a university, the subject of the anaylsis. (Mostly, women were the administrative staff).

  • 2nd Proposal: Good practices as mandatory e-moduls on gender, unconscious bias training, etc., developed and implemented by the European universties, should be transffered into Western Balkans accademic societes.

For example, the University of Leicester has:
- a ‘gender decoder’ to identify and avoid gendered language in the adverts;
- a mandatory e-module on equality, diversity and inclusion with a key focus on gender equality;
- an Unconscious Bias training for senior leaders and an online module to all staff;
- a women-only leadership development programme Aurora;
- a transparent Workload Allocation Model to ensure consistent application of workload tariffs against specific academic activities;
- an academic career map that takes full account of contributions to leadership and citizenship in addition to research and teaching, to ensure reward for these contributions (often undertaken by women);
- a range of Promotion Workshops, including a session for women only, to provide targeted support for potential promotion applicants;
- an established Women’s Forum and a Senior Women’s Network which provides opportunities for networking, informal support for career progression, role modelling and sharing of good practise;
-an established student HeForShe society, etc. (European University Association 2018, http://eua.be/activities-services/news/newsitem/2018/03/08/university-of-leicester-and-gender-equality-a-good-practice?utm_source=webpage&utm_medium=News&utm_name=News-webpage-08-03-2018; http://www.heforshe.org/en)

How many universities in the WBCs have held unconscious bias training or established a transparent Workload allocation model, or any of the above mentioned?

Also, on 8 March 2018, Professor Martine Rahier, Vice-President of the European University Association, detected the crucial issue (https://www.ecu.ac.uk/blogs/far-women-come-higher-education/; http://eua.be/activities-services/news/newsitem/2018/03/08/international-women-s-day-the-situation-of-women-in-academia-today?utm_source=EUA+Newsletter+Masterlist&utm_campaign=617056d532-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_03_08&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e5bafc1323-617).

She pointed out the most important aspect is the recruitment process. “The groups of people that do this recruitment should be aware that there is a large reservoir of women qualified for professorship, qualified for leadership positions in academic life and I think one should not be afraid to specifically aim at women’s applications, to encourage women to apply for these jobs, I think the whole process of recruiting at the professor’s level could be tuned up to encourage women to apply. They don’t apply, or they apply a lot less than men” (European University Association 2018).

  • 3rd Proposal: There should be developed ways and means to target an unseen (and untargeted) group in today's Western Balkans societies - this group consists of higly-educated women (with MSc and PhD titles) in their 30s and 40s, who are unemployed due to many various causes.

They were students in the war time or immediately after the war. They represent a huge intelectual capital and currently need assitance. Therefore, I would like to ask the Civil Society Forum to draw attention of the relevant stakeholders on this group and try to instigate them to make support schemes to target this particular group.

Many thanks & Best regards!


Zilka Spahic Siljak Sat 7 Apr 2018 3:02PM

Hello everyone and thanks Lamija for inviting me to participate to the consultation. As gender study scholar and activist I agree with all the proposals given by other colleagues pertaining BiH constitutional and legal framework, and their harmonization with EU standards and norms pertaining gender equality. I would like to draw attention to another aspect of gender equality which is about implementation and application of the existing norms in practice. BiH and other Western Balkans countries have quite good legal framework but what is missing is implementation and implementation depends not only on legal measures and stronger sanctions but also on mindset of people. It however requires parallel efforts to change culture and customs that assign traditional gender roles to women and men. To be able to bring about social and political change we need to take seriously cultural and religious norms that govern lives of many women and men today. Just recently one of my students at Cultural studies said that she does not support gender equality, becuase she doesn't want her future husband to go for parental leave and for her it is wasting of the state funding and resources. Not to mention recent hot debates against Istanbul convention and so called gender ideology. Instead of opening forums do discuss secular and religious perspectives on gender equality we only see more polarization , exclusion and accusations. I believe that gender equality education should be part of the school and university curricula, but it also should take cultural and religious norms into account. If we do not change the existing exclusivist rhetoric we will continue living in schizophrenic condition in which an individual will follow secular legal norm and measure in public life and keep traditional gender roles and divisions in private life.


majaraicevicwrc Tue 10 Apr 2018 2:30PM

In the light of some new WB governments' measures to promote natality, I'll share an example of bad practice from Montenegro, that illustrates how rash adoption of laws, without a prior impact analysis on women’s lives, which is often followed by frequent amendments, became a common practice which creates the climate of legal uncertainty and fundamental breaches of the rule of law, rendering the institutions unreliable. It also shows how incompetent policies that seemingly only affect women, can collapse the economy of a country and open a multitude of other problems.