Two Public Forums on topic „Women, peace and security – presentation of research findings about the opinions of women and girls from the rural areas in Srebrenica, Bratunac, Lukavac and Kalesija from aspect of rural women representation in decision making in local level“ took place on 13 March 2013 in Public Institution „Biblioteka“ Lukavac and on 15 March 2013 in Kalesija Municipal premises. Public Forums were part of the activities within the „Intergration of Gender Equality Principles in Local Community“ implemented by Association „HO HORIZONTI“ Tuzla in partnership with „Forum žena“ Bratunac, and financially supported by UN WOMEN.
Public Forum in Lukavac gathered around 20 local women from local communities (mjesne zajednice) Lukavac Mjesto, Bokavići and Modrac, and also supported and attended by the representatives of Lukavac Municipality Izeta Bajrić, Secretary of Lukavac Municipal Council, Amra Gazibegović, Aldina Asanović and Mina Frljanović on behalf of Gender Equality Commission and UN Women representative Maja Marjanović. Public forum that took place in Kalesija also gathered around 20 local women from local communities (mjesne zajednice) Tojšići, Vukovije, Kikači, Miljanovci, Mahala and Rainci. The event was also supported and participated by representatives of Kalesija municipality Nedžad Dzafić, Chairman of Kalesija Municipal Council, Ramiz Baručić and Amra Alidžanović, on behalf of Gender Equality Commission and representative of OSCE Tuzla Slobodanka Radic.
Introductory speaker in both public forums was Hanifa Kantić, activist of the Association “HO HORIZONTI” who made a brief review to legal framework in BiH which guarantees equal rights and freedoms and prohibits discrimination in order to remind the participants on extremely low representation of women in decision making processes in local level. “Exclusion of women in decision making positions is especially visible in local communities’ councils as grassroot cell of citizens’ organisation and decision-making“, Ms. Kantic emphasised. Results of research Women, peace and security, which comprehended 400 women from rural communities and comprised municipalities Srebrenica (100), Bratunac (100), Lukavac (100) and Kalesija (100) illustrated that these women still live in very difficult conditions, being isolated in terms of information and economy, and have almost no possibilities to create local policies. After presentations, participants have discussed about issues in their local communities and under-representation of women in local communities’ councils. In active discussion, local women commented and contributed to determination of significance of participation and activities of women in local communities’ councils.
It was concluded that presence of women in decision-making positions in local communities is extremely important, and inclusion of rural women in decision-making processes would provide and opportunity for women issues to become more visible in public, which usually ignores them. Due to the above, we expect from local authorities in municipalities Lukavac and Kalesija to undertake measures of positive action and propose changes and ammendments to Municipal Statutes which refer to election and appointment of local communities’ councils in order to provide greater participation of women in local communities’ councils.