Marina Pendes (Deputy Minister of Defence of Bosnia and Herzegovina)

09.11.2010 - Interview conducted by Mark Warman & Christina Latham

Q1. Reflecting on your background within human rights and gender issues, how would you suggest issues relating to gender and human rights be applied to the adaptation of a universal approach?

You must analyze the situation in all different countries. We spoke about Bosnia-Herzegovina, but in many countries you can see many differences. We have done a good job, and recognized women’s rights during some laws in the parliamentary assembly, but we have a problem with women playing a part in Bosnia-Herzegovina; women don’t trust other women, and that is the main problem. We have found that if you have more women in various leading positions in society, this is a sign of progress to find a better way to resolve problems in society. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, knowledge is the main problem. We must make some reform in the areas of education as many of the young ladies in our society don’t have the opportunity to enter school after the “A Class”, and this is related to cultural and religious backgrounds which is a problem. With money and a new adopted policy, Bosnia-Herzegovina can see a better position with women in their society.

Q2. In your speech, you talked about the role of women in the peace building process. But because of the issues related to culture and religion, how can these challenges be overcome in the future?

UN Resolution 1335, recognizes the consequences after the war, or in post conflict situations, we must involve them before in various prevention activities, or pro-action initiatives to protect the women and rules. If you have a woman in the highest position in government, and she is involved in the negotiations somewhere, it’s my opinion that you can expect a better solution for society.

Q3. Another subject you touched upon in your speech is the importance of education. What practical measures can be implemented in education considering the divided nationalities of people in Bosnia-Herzegovina?

There was a time when we spent a lot of money on educational reform, but it does not reflect the real situation because we spent the money for things like school buildings, but not for educational programs. We have a problem with the past, and with the history of Bosnia-Herzegovina. For example, the books for the sixth class history have different opinions, and that is one of the main problems. The past twenty years of Bosnia-Herzegovina is something we don’t need in the books for this younger generation.
Q4.Recently Serbia apologized to Croatia for the Srebrenica massacre. Do you feel that a similar acceptance of guilt must occur within the separate nationalities of Bosnia-Herzegovina in order to help with reunification?
We have some examples of this, but it is not enough. In front of our new government, there is that obligation, and that must be the first step. This will be a positive step for people living in Bosnia-Herzegovina for building a trust, and making reconciliation the highest level priority.

Thank you for your time.