Press Release: European Union and UN Women launch new initiative to focus on ending violence against women and girls in Bosnia and Herzegovina


Opening speeches by representatives of the Delegation of the European Union to Bosnia and Herzegovina, UN Women CO BiH and the Agency for Gender Equality BiH. Photo: UN Women BiH
Opening speeches by representatives of the Delegation of the European Union to Bosnia and Herzegovina, UN Women CO in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Agency for Gender Equality. Photo: UN Women Bosnia and Herzegovina

European Union and UN Women organized a high-level workshop on 29 May to launch the country-level component of the regional programme, "Ending Violence against Women in the Western Balkan countries and Turkey: Implementing Norms, Changing Minds.”

The programme aims to combat violence and discrimination against women and girls in the Western Balkans; namely Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo[1], the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Turkey; funded by the European Union (EU). The launch brought together government representatives, UN agencies, European Union representatives and civil society organisations to discuss the roadmap to combat violence against women in the country.

Half of all women have been subjected to some form of violence in Bosnia and Herzegovina.[2] A serious violation of basic human rights, violence against women and girls is widespread in the country and often seen as socially acceptable behavior justified by traditional patriarchal concepts.

“Gender equality is a matter of human rights and gender-based violence is one of the most prevalent human rights violation,” stressed Melvin Asin, Head of Cooperation in the EU Delegation to Bosnia and Herzegovina and added, “We should all raise our voice and combat violence against women, which is why we are glad to finance this important regional project worth EUR 5 million. Bosnia and Herzegovina is a part of this regional project and EU has recognized the need to assist Bosnia and Herzegovina in its endeavors to achieve gender balance and gender equality in all spheres of social life. We all have responsibility to fight discrimination, stand up against gender-based violence and pass the message that violence against women is simply not accepted.” 

The programme will work towards creating an enabling legislative and policy environment in line with international normative standards, strengthening women’s organizations in their fight to address the structural causes of gender inequality and violence against women, and empowering women and girls (including those from disadvantaged groups) who have experienced discrimination or violence.

“This project will directly support the implementation of the Istanbul Convention in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The partnership of UN Women with gender mechanisms’ is an examplary synergy in ending gender-based violence in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is also important to point out the regional approach which helps create better quality solutions in fighting violence against women,” said Saša Leskovac, the advisor at the Agency for Gender Equality, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The programme envisages close cooperation with and extensive assistance to civil society organizations as key partners and drivers of change on gender equality.

Additionally, the programme builds on existing work in the country to endorse favourable social norms and attitudes towards preventing discrimination and violence against women.

“This project comes at a time when there have been several combined efforts ongoing or currently in the pipeline gathered around the same purpose. As UN Women, we will do our best to achieve results in close collaboration with all other actors and stakeholders,” said Amna Muharemović, Programme Specialist at UN Women Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The workshop also provided an insight into the linkages of the programme activities with national strategic documents pertaining to gender equality and the EU Action Plan on gender equality.

[1] All references to Kosovo on this website shall be understood to be in full compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999).

[2] According to study on Prevalence and characteristics of violence against women in BiH; See more at: