About the Initiative
The narrative that commonly surrounds war portraits women as only victims, taking away their agency and leaving them voiceless in the construction of their country’s future. Their perspectives are ignored in the peace negotiations, and abuses against women that occur during the war are forgotten and left out from peace agreements.
Since 2013 Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) is spearheading a groundbreaking initiative that focuses on the importance of taking into consideration existing experiences and empirical knowledge of women who went through an armed conflict and struggled for women rights, in an attempt to change the dominant narrative of women as victims. Through this initiative we advocate for women’s rights to be represented at all levels in the peace-building process, we put the spot light on the peace activism of women during war, we defend the human rights of women and promote social, economic and political justice.
This initiative started as cooperation between the activists from Syria and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and was thus called Women Organizing for Change in Syria and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The initiative had two main goals:
To empower women activist of Bosnia and Herzegovina to, based on their experience and knowledge, share valuable lessons with Syrian counterparts, and engage with international experts in developing their own strategies for demanding and accessing their rights in the context of post-conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina;
To, through Bosnian experience, strengthen the capacities of Syrian women’s organizations to develop approaches to constitutional change, transitional justice, human rights and to engage in peace negotiations.
Although this initiative started as cooperation between Syrian and Bosnian activists, considering some other ongoing conflict around the world, such as the one in Ukraine, we recognize the need to extend this kind of feministic solidarity and exchange of experience beyond Syria and Bosnia.
This web site is primarily focused on the activists from Bosnia and Herzegovina, gathering their experiences, recommendations and ideas for how to move forward at one place. However, we hope that the Bosnian experience and ideas gathered around this initiative, and through this web site, can be of use to other feminists and activists from Syria, Ukraine and further.
From the very start of this initiative some 40 activists, feminists and women organizations from Bosnia and Herzegovina have taken part in meetings, conferences and workshops organized under the initiative. Since June 2013 we have been working together on analysing processes that took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina trying to capture successful and less successful strategies and activities implemented by NGOs, government institutions and international community in their attempt to deal with the effects of war.