KORICE_eng. IIWomen in party bodies

Women are underrepresented in the main bodies of the key political parties in BiH. Extreme examples are two parties (SDA and SDS) in which the party president and all the vice-presidents are male. In other political parties women hold at least one vice-presidential seat, which amounts to representation of 10-20% (depending on the number of seats). Special measures of naming 5 women as members of the Executive Committee of SDA resulted in only 10% representation, due to the large board membership. In SBB the requirement is for 25% of women as members of the Executive board. Although political parties are organized on different principles, the one thing they have in common is that women are also underrepresented in other party bodies, specifically that instances of equal representation of at least 40% are an exception rather than the rule. The representation of women is somewhat higher in the more numerous party bodies, while it is usually around 20% in the key decision-making bodies.[i]

Research conducted by Infohouse in 2015,[ii] which assessed gender equality in politics and activities of political parties in BiH demonstrated that gender equality is not adequately regulated through the parties’ political documents. Special measures for ensuring gender equality within the parties show the lack of harmonization of party documents and policies with the Gender Equality Law: they entail discriminatory provisions and there are no provisions for including the less represented gender in the process of governance, decision-making and advocacy. Women’s organizations within the parties are a resource, although underutilized, for change of internal and external party politics in the area of gender equality. All of this contributes to low participation of women in Legislatures and the Executive.

Women in Legislature[iii]

98 political subjects participated in the General Election in 2014. Out of the 7,748 candidates, 3,276 were women – 42% – which is an increase compared to the 36.82% of women candidates in the previous election, and a direct consequence of the harmonization of the Electoral Law with the Gender Equality Law BiH.

According to the official and final results, ten women (23.81%) were elected to the House of Representatives PSBiH, which is a higher percentage than the ones achieved in the Entity Parliaments. Of the ten, six women were elected directly, and four were awarded seats through compensatory mandates. The highest percentage of women (60%) were elected from the Demokratska Fronta – Željko Komšić (DF) electoral lists. The political party that gained the highest numbers of seats (11), SDA, had only one woman MP, who got her place through a compensatory mandate. SBB with four and SDP with three mandates do not have a single MP in the House of Representatives BiH and neither do the four political parties/coalitions, which won one mandate each (BPS, A-SDA, PDP-NDP and DNS-NS-SRS). HDZ 1990 is an exception – they have a woman in the one mandate they won. Out of the 15 delegates in the House of Peoples BiH only two were women, making up mere 13.33% (and both are from the Club of Croats).

21 women were elected to the Parliament of the Federation of BiH (21.43%). The highest proportion is from Laboristi BiH’s list (100%), then Stranka za BiH (33.33%), followed by DF (28.57%), SBB and BPS with 25% each. Numerically, the highest number is from SDA (6 women representatives), followed by SBB and DF (4 women representatives each) and the coalition led by HDZ BiH (3 women representatives). SDP, BPS, Stranka za BiH and Laboristi BiH each have one woman representative in Parliament FBiH. On the other hand HDZ 1990 has four mandates, A-SDA has two and Naša stranka has one, and no women MPs. In the House of Peoples FBiH there are a total of 54 delegates (Club of Serbs was never completely formed and still only numbers 13 instead of 17) and only eight are women, making up 14.81% of delegates. Eight delegates are split in Clubs: two women out of the 17 delegates in the Club of Bosniaks, two women out of the 17 delegates in the Club of Croats, and three women out of the 13 delegates in the Club of Serbs. There is only one woman in the Club of The Others, and she is a member of SDP BiH.

13 women were elected to the National Assembly of Republika Srpska, making up 15.66% of the representatives. Five were elected directly, seven through compensatory mandates and one through a shuffle of mandates, since there was one mandate less for the Croat representatives. In terms of percentages, the highest number of women was elected from the DNS-NS-SRS coalition lists (25%), and the least from PDP (0%). Numerically, the highest number of women were elected from SNSD (six representatives), then from the DNS-NS-SRS and the SDS-PUP-Radikali SRS RS coalitions (two representatives each), while one woman was elected from the Coalition Domovina, Narodni Demokratski Pokret and the Socialist Party. The only political option that does not have a female representative in the National Assembly is PDP, although they have won seven mandates. Compared to the second House of Parliament FBiH the Council of Peoples of Republika Srpska has almost twice as many women. Out of the total of 28 delegates there are eight women, making up 28.57% of representatives, which is also the highest percentage of women in any of the Houses of Parliaments at Entity and State levels. In the Club of Serbs and the Club of Bosniaks from the total of eight delegates in both Clubs only two are women. In the Clubs of Croats and The Others, there are three women delegates each.

The percentage of women in newly-formed Cantonal Assemblies is 18.71% and varies between cantons. The lowest percentage of women is in the Assembly of Livanjski Canton where women make up only 4% of the Assembly members (24:1 in favor of men) and the highest percentage of women is in the Assembly of Zapadno-Hercegovački Canton where women make up 30.43% Assembly members (16:7 in favor of men). Sarajevo Canton, Zeničko-Dobojski Canton and Bosansko-Podrinjski Canton are the only ones with women at the head of the Assembly.

After the General Election of 2014 there were a total of 19.90% women in legislature, at all levels of government. Despite different attempts to increase the representation of women the 2002 record of participation of 20.15% was not met, and 40% still seems unachievable. It is comforting that we can at least speak of an upward trend since this percentage was 17.21% in 2006 and 17.37% in 2010.

The Parliamentary Assembly BiH formed a working group in 2015, to work on the changes to the Electoral Law. It has been noted that during the group’s work there was no mention of equal participation of women and men in political processes. Sarajevo Open Centre organized a press conference in front of the Parliamentary Assembly BiH in January 2016, and put the amendments to the Electoral Law that aim to rectify the current shortfalls in parliamentary procedure. The Commission for Gender Equality of the House of Representatives PSBiH will soon discuss the amendments, which propose the equal number of women and men on electoral lists and a “zipper system.”

Women who experience multiple forms of discrimination (Roma women, LBT women, women with disabilities) are completely excluded from political life.

Women in the Executive

Following the General Election in 2014 the process of forming the government lasted for almost a year, and the political discussions over membership to the Council of Ministers BiH, the Entity and Cantonal Governments were marred by inter-party and party quarrels over posts, instability of the Government in the Federation of BiH and the withdrawal of Demokratska Fronta (DF) from the government at state and entity level. During this turbulent period the question of gender equality and participation of women in the most powerful branch of the government was secondary for political parties. The few reactions which addressed the fact that the formation of the government was in breach of the goals set out in Article 20 of the Gender Equality Law came from the Civil Society Organizations and parliamentary bodies and Institutional mechanisms for gender equality.

In the current session of the Council of Ministers BiH women are at the head of two out of the nine ministries (22.22%). Semiha Borovac (SDA) is the Minister of Human Rights and Refugees and Marina Pendeš (HDZ BiH) is the Minister of Defense. None of the deputy ministers in the Council of Ministers are women.

In the Government of the Federation of BiH four women were named to the Executive branch following the dissolution of the SDA and DF coalition and the inclusion of SBB in the government: the Minister of Finance and the Deputy Prime Minister is Jelka Miličević (HDZ BiH), the Minister of Education and Science is Elvira Dilberović (SDA), the Minister of Culture and Sport is Zora Dujmović (HDZ BiH) and the Minister of Environment and Tourism is Edita Đapo (SBB).

Željka Cvijanović (SNSD) was named the Prime Minister of the RS Government, which has three women ministers: the Minister of Government and Local Self-Government is Lejla Rešić (DNS), the Minister for Urban Planning, Development and Ecology is Srebrenka Golić (SNSD), and the Minister for Family, Youth and Sport is Jasminka Davidović (SP). Participation of women in the Government of RS is at 23.53% at the same level as their participation in the Government of FBiH.

Not a single woman was named the Prime Minister of any of the cantonal governments while the percentage of women ministers was 17.5% (the number varies from 0-20% depending on the Canton). The most extreme examples are the Governments of Zeničko-Dobojski and Hercegovačko-Neretvanski Cantons in which no women were appointed. In the Government of Unsko-Sanski Canton there is one woman minister and the same is true for the governments of Srednjobosanski Canton, Livno Canton and Bosansko-Podrinjski Canton. Two women were appointed ministers (15.35%) in the governments of Sarajevo Canton and Tuzla Canton. Two women were also appointed ministers in Zapadno-Hercegovački Canton and Posavski Canton (20%).

The total number of Women holding ministerial posts at all levels of government is 23. The highest number of ministers in the Executive comes from HDZ BiH (eight), while the lowest number (one each) are from the following parties: DNS, SP; ASDA, SBiH, and NSRzB. SDA, SBB and SNSD have three Women in ministerial positions each. In the Council of Ministers BiH and the Government of the Federation of BiH there has been an increase in the representation of women in comparison to the previous electoral cycle, while there has been a decrease in the Government of Republika Srpska and the Cantonal Governments.

It is clear that in the 2014-2018 mandate women are holding ministerial positions in areas of Judiciary, Justice, Governance, Education, Work and Social policy, Ecology, Urban planning, Human Rights and Family – areas which are generally considered to be in women’s purview and fields in which women have already achieved progress (for an example in the Judiciary).

The Commission for Gender Equality of the House of Representatives PSBiH proposed the Law on Changes and Amendments of the Law on the Council of Ministers BiH, on the initiative of the Gender Equality Agency and the Sarajevo Open Centre. The proposal envisages the introduction of the 40% quota into the law itself. This is a positive example of cooperation between the institutions working towards achieving gender equality and an example of how it is possible to achieve specific legislative proposals for achieving gender equality. The proposed Changes and Amendments to the Law should be discussed at the February session of the House of Representatives of the Parliament BiH.

Women in the Judiciary, the Armed Forces and the Police

Women in BiH are represented more in the judiciary than in any other branch of the government. However the number of women working in the judiciary is substantially larger than the number of women who are in higher positions within the judiciary or in the higher courts. Women are still faced with the glass ceiling when it comes to positions of power and decision-making.[iv] Women make up 59.64% of the judiciary, yet they only hold 42.46% of leadership positions in courts and 35% in the Prosecutor’s Offices.[v]

In January 2016 the Council of Ministers BiH adopted the Report by the Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees on the implementation of the Action Plan for the Implementation of the UN Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, in BiH, for the period of 31.7.2014 – 31.7.2015. This report offered an overview of the current situation. It claimed that there is an apparent increase in women’s interest to join the Army – from the 23 candidates who responded to the first recruitment ad in 2008, to 595 who responded to the penultimate ad in 2014. Although there has been a low level of participation in different education workshops by the members of the Armed Forces BiH (due to the necessary requirements of: rank, regiment, proficiency in foreign languages, and other) there has been a noticeable increase in participation of women in these educational workshops, and there has been a decrease in the number of obstacles faced by women interested in participating. Further, this report states that the implementation of the strategic measures through the Action Plan for the Implementation of resolution 1325 has lead to the creation of a more favorable environment for the increase of women in the Police and the Armed Forces, although the increase is still the most prominent in the lower positions. The representation of women in the Armed Forces according to the information in the Action Plan for the Implementation of Resolution 1325 is summarized below.

MD/AF BiH 2011. % Women 2012. % Women 2015. % Women
Employees in the Ministry of Defense (MD) BiH 36,4 35,6 36
CL in AF BiH 23,8 23,8 24
PVL in AF BiH 3,8 4,8 5,4
Members of the armed forces (AF) BiH 5,4 6,5 6,6
Members of Peace Missions 3,5


Table: Representation of women in the Sector of Defense.

According to the reports of the members of the Network of Women Police Officers,[vi] women make up 10% of each police agency, which is very low considering the total number of police officers. The percentage of high-ranking women in law enforcement agencies in BiH is only around 0.5%.[vii] The data on the participation of women in police forces that is available in the Report on the Implementation of the Action Plan for the Implementation of Resolution 1324 only covers SIPA. From the total of 737 employees, 191 are women and 546 are men.

SIPA 2012.

(% Women)


(% Women)

The total number of employees 23,50 25,9
Police officers 12,82 13,47
State officers 50 47,56
Employees 57,14 58,04
Members of Peace Missions 10


Table: Representation of Women in SIPA.

Guidelines for Action


  • Political parties need to secure equal participation of women in the processes of governance, decision-making and representation within the parties, and especially in the executive bodies;
  • Political parties needs to ensure equal visibility of male and female candidates during the electoral campaigns, take responsibility and place women on electoral and compensatory lists so that they have a greater chance of being elected;
  • Change the Law on Financing of Political Parties BiH in order to better support the Parties which have above-the-average number of elected women;
  • It is essential to undertake measures that would ensure that appointment of women to positions of decision-making is equal to that of men and in accordance with the Law on Gender Equality and the gender quota of 40%. The Electoral Law BiH, The Law on the Council of Ministers, the Law on the Governments of Entities and Cantons and the Law on the Local Self-Government in BiH need to be amended and harmonized.
  • Ensure further implementation of Action Plan for Implementation of Resolution 1325 which will lead to a higher rate of participation by women in the Armed and Police Forces.

You can find the Orange Report 2016 – Annual Report on the State of Women’s Rights in BiH following this link.

[i] Data was taken from the publication: Mapa ravnopravnosti spolova. Prijedlog planova za postizanje ravnopravnosti spolova unutar političkih stranaka u Bosni i Hercegovini, available at:

[ii] Results of the research are available at:

Documents and practices of the parties with the highest number of votes in the General Election 2014 were analyzed: SDP, DF, SDA, SBB, HDZ BiH, HDZ 1990, SNSD i SDS.

[iii] Data on participation of women in the legislature are taken from the publication:

Politička participacija žena u Bosni i Hercegovini: Analiza učešća žena na stranačkim listama i konačnih rezultata općih izbora 2014, available at:


[v] Annual Report by the VSTV-a for 2014, available at:

[vi] The Association “Mreža žena policajaca” (The Network of Women Police Officers) with its headquarters in Sarajevo was officially registered at the beginning of 2012 and it gathers police officers from 15 police agencies in BiH (Direction for the Coordination of Police Bodies BiH, SIPA, Border Patrol BiH, Federal Police, Police of Brčko District and 10 Cantonal MUPs)