Last week, Sarajevo Open Centre has sent a request for aligning existing laws and adoption of new, which would finally regulate the issue of maternity benefits and maternity/parental leave in Federation of BiH to the Prime Minister of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina – Fadil Novalić, as well to the Chair of the Commission for Gender Equality at the Parliament of Federation of BiH – Jasna Duraković-Hadžiomerović, and to the Chair of the Club of Women Parliamentarians in the FBiH Parliament – Kenela Zuko.
The letter states that the protection of mothers and motherhood is one of the key commitments of Bosnia and Herzegovina in terms of international standards of human rights, especially equal rights and opportunities for women. It is a fundamental human right, which is guaranteed through all the universal key documents which Bosnia and Herzegovina signed, and a failure to ensure some of these rights in the field of the protection of mothers and motherhood represents discrimination against women, and as such, it is prohibited by all international documents and by the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Because of the uneven maternity fees and maternity absence in the Federation of BiH, discrimination against women in this entity is clearly visible. Guided by this problem, Sarajevo Open Centre proposes to the FBiH Government to urgently initiate the following measures:
- Government of FBiH should establish an interministerial group (with the representatives of Government, the Parliament, the legal profession and civil society organizations) which will examine the current system of legal regulations and the very payment of maternity benefits, taking into account previous studies of civil society organizations and the Special Report by The Institution of Human Rights Ombudsman of BiH;
- Based on the study findings, the Federal Government should propose amendments to the Labor law, in a way to regulate the right on pregnancy absence as well as the exclusive right of the mother, and parental leave as a right of both parents;
- Based on the findings of many studies, for the purpose of eliminating existing discrimination on the basis of place of residence and equalization of fees within the entire Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Federal Government should propose the establishment of the Public Fund for Child Protection in the Federation of BiH (similar one exists in Republika Srpska). With the establishment of the Fund, all women would have the same rights, which would lead to the harmonization of legislation.
We hope that the Government and the Parliament of FBiH will recognize the importance of regulating the law for the protection of mothers and motherhood, to finally act in accordance with international agreements covering this right and start to solve the problem of inequality of maternity benefits and pregnancy absence, as well to regulate parental absence for both mothers and fathers.
Complete letter can be found in B/C/S languages here.