Women in Elections Project

When it comes to gender equality, BiH has set up the legislative and policy frameworks for gender equality and has become a regional leader in that area. Important legal steps have been taken with Conventions,Laws and Gender Action Plans promoting gender equality, strategies adopted to reduce domestic violence, and institutional mechanisms set up to mainstream gender.

There are close to 3.2 million registered voters in BiH (2.04 million in FBiH and 1.24 million in RS) out of which 50,8% are women. Yet, women continue to be underrepresented at all levels of political and public life. During the last general elections in 2014- in line with the standard praxis - the political parties abided by the Elections Law in terms of quota compliance when it comes to the candidate lists, but not with the mandates allocated to women. To illustrate, out of more than 300 women candidates enlisted for the BiH Parliamentary Assembly, only 10 were assigned with the mandates. Out of total 152 ministerial positions in BiH at all levels, there are only 23 women, while less than 20% women are represented in parliaments. Out of 183 registered political parties in BiH, not a single one is headed by a woman. The results of previous elections show a disparity between the women’s representation in the electoral lists and the number of women who actually got elected. This discrepancy between the lists and mandates, and the praxis of side-lining women by the political parties in which they should become visible and responsible in political life has caused much damage and discouraged women from engaging actively in politics. At the community level gender equality issues are even more closely related to development, and every aspect of community life is necessarily gendered, but this is still not recognized in Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially in the less developed and rural areas. In 2016 local elections, out of 417 candidates only 26 (or 6.8%) were women, which represents a decrease comparing to the last local elections in 2012. Only seven have become municipality mayors. Therefore, mobilising the next generation of leaders locally, and activating women as social agents in communities can be the most effective strategy to promote transformational change towards more developed and inclusive society. Electing a woman also often results in a "double dividend" in terms of not only advancing women's rights, but also those of children and wellbeing of community at large.

Project Goals

The main objective of the project is to strengthen women’s leadership and participation in political life. Guided by the strict observance of the highest standards of political neutrality, the project will apply the UNs Gender Equality in Elected Office approach to help secure an enabling environment for getting more women elected across board, in all spheres of decision-making in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It will look into enhancing the women’s engagement in public life and their position in the decision-making and ensure they are given a realistic and equal chance as their men counterparts in the forthcoming general elections (2018), and in the longer term, the next local elections in 2020 by advocacy for women’s equal rights and political participation.

Strengthening women’s leadership and participation in political life will apply the two-pronged approach- vertically by proposing structural adjustments to accommodate greater numbers of women in politics, as well as horizontally by nourishing the next generation of women leaders in communities through tailored networking and capacity building initiatives.


  • Development of the Baseline Study on Barriers to Political Participation of Women.
  • Support to entity gender centers with adoption of methodology for development of local gender action plans and support to organizing public debates in partner municipalities.
  • In cooperation with the Gender Equality Agency, development of the Toolkit for Gender Mainstreaming in Policies and Laws.
  • In cooperation with the Central Election Commission, development of the Brochure for Women Candidates on Elections and Electoral System.
  • Conducting public debates on women leadership and political participation of women from aspect of political party involvement, media presentation and legislative provisions.
  • Establishing Women Forum for Development as innovative and open platform for empowerment and cooperation of women. This will also include numerous tailored designed women leadership trainings.
  • Support to development of the Online Resource Center and Gender Sensitive Training modules for the Central Election Commission.
  • Support to development of local gender action plans for partner municipalities and cities.
  • Advancement of social services designed to tackle time poverty of aspiring and actual women leaders.
  • Support to women in political parties to become more influential and visible.
  • Establishment of the media coalition to support gender sensibilization of media space and make it friendlier to women who want to be come more politically and socially engaged.
  • Support to the Gender Equality Committee of the BiH Parliamentary Assembly.
  • Designing and conducting media campaign in close cooperation with all project partners.
  • Strengthening the Women Forum for Development through activism, ICT innovations and capacity building.



Start date:


Estimated end date:



Swedish Government

Project value

USD USD 1,892,215.22


Central Election Commission, Gender Equality Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH, Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees of BiH – Agency for Gender Equality of BiH, Gender Center of the Republika Srpska Government, Gender Center of the Federation of BiH Government.

Geographic coverage:

Cities and municipalities: Old Town Sarajevo, Laktasi, Nevesinje, Banja Luka, Zenica, Olovo, Bijeljina, Ljubuski, Tesanj, Gracanica