Hosted by the Bosnian and Herzegovinian Chief of Defence, Lieutenant General Senad Mašović, and with support from Defence Section Sarajevo, the conference ran over three days concluding on Friday 8th March with the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s annual International Women’s Day celebration. Attended by senior military and civilian figures from Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), the wider region, and other international organisations (UK MOD, NATO, EUFOR, UN Women, OSCE, UNDP SEESAC), the conference heard from a large number of  junior and senior panellists on their experiences and perspectives of being involved in Defence and Security.



Panel discussions considered a variety of themes including UNSCR 1325 and how it is applicable to the military; gender mainstreaming in Defence; increasing the number of women in Defence and widening the roles available to them; and how and why the military should engage with, and learn from, Civil Society in gender-related matters.


The conference resulted from commitments General Mašović made to VCDS, General Sir Gordon Messenger, at staff talks in the UK in September 2018. It provided a forum for frank and honest discussions about the challenges facing women in regional Defence, and committed the Armed Forces of BiH (AFBiH) to several future activities:


  1. Conducting a thorough gender audit and analysis of the BiH Armed Forces, including a review of internal institutions (policies, procedures and working cultures) and military training and operations, with an emphasis on qualitative data.
  2. Appointing full-time Military Gender and Protection Advisor(s) to strategic and operational planning headquarters.
  3. Including WPS and UNSCR1325 in doctrine and military guidance.
  4. Including gender-related scenarios on exercises and during training of the Armed Forces.


This was a highly positive and constructive event and one which helped raise the profile of the WPS agenda across the region.  British Embassy Sarajevo will now partner with AFBiH to deliver upon the activities identified above, with support from UN Women and UNDP SEESAC, and to help Bosnia and Herzegovina cement its position as a leading regional champion of Women, Peace and Security in Defence.




Andrew Tihonov Designer

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