Post-Conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina: Integrating Women's Special Situation and Gender Perspectives in Skills Training and Employment Promotion Programmes


Walsh, Martha. 1997. Post-Conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina: Integrating Women's Special Situation and Gender Perspectives in Skills Training and Employment Promotion Programmes. Geneva: International Labor Office.

Author: Martha Walsh


This report is an input to the ILO Action Programme on Skills and Entrepreneurship Training for Countries Emerging from Armed Conflict. The programme has undertaken several country-level research activities of which the author's report is one example. The report examines the gendered consequences of war. They include gender role changes emanating from exigencies of the conflict-affected context; weakened community structures, cohesion and trust and their impact on women's coping strategies and vulnerability after war; increase in numbers and vulnerability of female-headed households; and greater differences between men and women in their opportunities in the post war labour market. The limited focus men receive in programmes set up to tackle war-related physiological traumas could add to the high level of male violence against women in postwar households. The report also shows how prewar differences amongst women influence the impact of war on them, as well as how other causes of vulnerability, such as ethnicity, disability and age, need to be tackled in post war technical assistance projects. The study finds that ongoing postwar projects do not contribute substantially to empowering women, nor do they target women's strategic needs. Whilst many women's organisations exist in the country, the extent of their contribution is limited since they do not engage in the public arena. The report makes a number of proposals regarding policy and programme to guide future action.



“The way in which men and women experience and deal with the consequences of conflict depends on gender roles and relations prior to the conflict and how they were renegotiated during wartime.” (2)

“ Bosnia, where class, ethnicity, and residential status are key elements in determining a woman’s position and have proved to be a source of conflict between women and women’s organizations.” (2)

“There has always been a profound bias against rural people, which has been worsened by heavy refugee flows from rural to urban...displaced women in urban areas must compete with other groups of women, such as families of dead soldiers, for housing and other resources.” (3)

“Conflict creates a confusing and contradictory dynamic in which gender identities are reified and polarized while at the same time women’s roles are expanded into male-dominated arenas.” (4)

“The rape of women during wartime is an intentional and strategic act of brutality. It is designed to degrade women as the moral guardians of their traditions and to demoralize the community in which they live.” (9)

Topics: Armed Conflict, Ethnic/Communal Wars, Combatants, DDR, Displacement & Migration, Ethnicity, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Health, PTSD, Trauma, Households, Livelihoods, NGOs, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Security, Sexual Violence, SV against Women Regions: Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina

Year: 1997

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