As part of this initiative a feminist solidarity conference Women Organising for Change in Syria and Bosnia was held from 10-14 February 2014 in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. 20 representatives and activists from women groups and human rights organisations in Syria attended the conference along with 42 activists and representatives of women’s rights groups and civil society organisations from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The conference highlighted the importance of considering experiences and empirical knowledge of women who went through the armed conflict and struggled for women rights, in light of conflict prevention and peace building initiatives in Syria. The primary focus was on the experiences of the Bosnian and Syrian women. The Bosnian experience highlights what happens when women are not represented during peace talks, or in strategic decisions during the post-conflict recovery period, and how inefficient and discriminatory power embodied in patriarchal political elite continues to deepen conflicts in the society instead of solving them. At the same time, the ongoing conflict in Syria and the Syrian women’s struggle to gain meaningful space at the negotiations during the Geneva II Conference shed light on the inability of groundbreaking international mechanisms such as UNSCR 1325 to create a space for women when geopolitical interests and the interests of the male political elites are prioritized over the needs of Syrian people.