Social situation No equality of opportunity for women and Roma

The state of Bosnia and Herzegovina is strictly divided along ethnic lines. The question of ethnicity plays a decisive role in court decisions, education and the media, and there is no overarching national identity. This leads to discrimination and exclusion.

A saleswoman in a snack bar

A saleswoman in a snack bar

A saleswoman in a snack bar

The situation is particularly difficult for women. Anti-discrimination legislation has been adopted, but it is inadequately enforced. Women are significantly underrepresented in politics and public life. Their access to the labour market is limited, and Bosnia and Herzegovina has one of the lowest rates of female employment in the region. As a result, women are at particularly high risk of falling into poverty. Domestic and sexual violence are rarely prosecuted, especially in rural areas.

The Roma community – numbering around 58,000 – is particularly affected by discrimination. They have poor access to housing, healthcare, employment and education. Two thirds of the Roma population does not have health insurance, and the Romani language is not taught in schools. Children from Roma families were particularly disadvantaged during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of them were unable to take part in virtual lessons during school closures as their families often lacked the technical equipment required.

Several rulings by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) have deemed the electoral law in Bosnia and Herzegovina to violate the European Convention on Human Rights.

According to the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement, the three presidency positions are reserved for the country’s three “constituent” peoples (Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs). This discriminates against Jews, Romani and other minorities.

As at: 07/06/2022