Ambassador Wigemark: Equal representation of women in executive and legislative bodies is a legal requirement and will improve prospects for BiH’s EU integration

EU Ambassador to BiH Lars-Gunnar Wigemark welcomed significant improvements in gender representation across six Cantonal Assemblies following the 2018 General Elections (Herzegovina Neretva, Zenica-Doboj, Central Bosnia, Sarajevo, Tuzla, Una Sana). Regrettably, this positive trend was not reflected throughout the country, as directly elected chambers at both State and Entity level saw a decline in the number of women.

“Bearing in mind that coalition talks are on-going, I urge all political parties and leaders to respect the law and ensure equal gender representation in governments. That means having at least 40% of women! And it is not just about numbers, it is also about the quality of leadership – the country needs more ministers and legislators who are able to clearly articulate the interests of women in the society and push through meaningful changes. It is a proven fact that countries with more women in senior political positions perform better both in terms of democratic and economic transitions. This is not about being politically correct. It is a matter of efficiency and performance in a modern world where women and men are equals,” Ambassador Wigemark said.

Ambassador Wigemark commended the recent adoption of the country’s new Gender Action Plan, underlining that it offers a framework for the authorities at all levels to dedicate sufficient expertise and resources to its implementation, translating words into action.

He praised political parties’ coalition programmes which seek to integrate gender equality principles in line with responsibilities stemming from domestic legislation in BiH at State, Entity and Cantonal levels of government.

In the coming period, the EU expects political parties to closely align their political agendas and deliver on the commitments made to their voters. We expect them to raise the bar and significantly increase women’s participation at the forefront of BiH politics.

“It is well within the reach of Bosnia and Herzegovina to achieve gender equality at all governmental levels throughout the country. More women in decision-making positions will also further EU integration. So get it done!” Ambassador Wigemark concluded.