ADVOCACY IN THE MEDIA
Introduction to the cause
Prava Za Sve (Rights for All) is a Bosnia and Herzegovina’s national non-governmental human rights organization, which works to create just and democratic society based on human rights standards with particular focus on equal opportunities and participative democracy principles. They implemented a number of activities aiming to inclusion and strengthening women’s rights in the process of accession of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the European Union.
Women in Bosnia and Herzegovina are not equal with men particularly in employment and work, health, and social protection. They are discriminated in access to maternity leave and compensation. A number of unemployed women are growing steadily, many women are working in the informal economy, there are no enough accessible services for children, parental leave is limited. Womens’ perspectives are often ignored when legislative solutions developed.
Prava Za Sve, in cooperation with eight partners of women’s organizations from Bosnia and Herzegovina drawn up advocacy document“Contribution of the Women Advocacy Group (WAG) for the 2016 EC Progress Report on Bosnia and Herzegovina”. Along with this document, they created a platform where the public and government met, organizing public debates focusing on healthcare and equal accessibility to it. In order to promote the public debates and ideas generated from them, a web campaign was necessary.
For the web campaign, we produced three short videos, summarizing the general idea. The videos, natively posted on Facebook, were to inform the public of topics discussed, raise the visibility of women’s issues and call for action. Using the powerful tools of advertising Facebook offered, we managed to generate more than 100.000 views per video. Paid ads mean nothing if SEO and the optimisation of target group and keywords was not done properly.
Videos were posted every 3 weeks, always as an announcement, where interactions with web campaign grew with each new video, reaching 116k views with the last one. Also, the demographics showed huge success. Since men never include themselves in discussions about women human rights, it was very important to note that over the course of the campaign it changed. The insight shows that the first video was viewed by 21% men and 78% women, while the last video showed that the top audiance were men with 50% of the views.
The campaign was a success, both online and offline. The public showed much more interest in women’s issues, both with joining the discussion over the web and in public debates. The media put these issues into the mainstream and started regularly covering and writing about them. And most importantly, the government officials in charge of the process of accession of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the European Union took advice from the “Contribution of the Women Advocacy Group (WAG) for the 2016 EC Progress Report on Bosnia and Herzegovina” advocacy document.
WE EDUCATE AND ADVOCATE AGAINST DISCRIMINATION
PRAVA ZA SVE has been strengthening skills and capacities of civil society organizations (CSO) and marginalized communities to combat discrimination by using of existing mechanisms for protection against discrimination since adoption of the 2009 Law for Protection against Discrimination (LPD). PRAVA ZA SVE has been a part of group of organization that grown up into the Coalition of Civil Society against Discrimination “Equality for All”* (the Coalition) since 2010.
PRAVA ZA SVE has held dozens of trainings and workshops for communities and organizations on providing paralegal aid to victims of discrimination and fight against discrimination. PRAVA ZA SVE published a range of guides and manuals for practical use of the LPD and existing mechanisms for protection (available only in B/H/S in section Publication).
PRAVA ZA SVE has been supporting and undertaking anti-discrimination campaigns**. During 2015 and 2016, campaign for changes of the LPD was undertaken including development of amendments on the LPD with argumentation (available only in B/H/S). Through the Joint Commission for Human Rights of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina it has been advocated for strengthening victims’ protection from discrimination. A great number of those amendments have been adopted in the Amendments to the LPD from 2016 (unofficial consolidated text available only in B/H/S).
Under the campaign, PRAVA ZA SVE has been organizing debates aiming to establish stakeholders’ dialogue on efficient citizen’s protection through existing antidiscrimination mechanisms and institutions. The debates are followed by thematic articles of activists and experts published by the Coalition’s portal diskriminacija.ba . All debates are filmed in shot video and available at PRAVA ZA SVE YouTube page.
PRAVA ZA SVE have organized a series of debates on discrimination in accessing rights to health, what led to a joint initiative of activists, experts and parliamentarians to amend the Law on Health Insurance, which was sent in the legislative procedure in the FBiH Parliament.
PRAVA ZA SVE organizes debates “Anti-discrimination policies and practices for students of Law faculties”, where students of faculties from Mostar, Tuzla, Sarajevo, Zenica and Banja Luka participated. Future lawyers had the opportunity to improve their knowledge on how to use Antidiscrimination Law in practice through lectures and mock trials based on real case laws. Shortened video version of these debates are avaliable on PRAVA ZA SVE YouTube page.
Long lasting experience of the PRAVA ZA SVE in the fight against discrimination and advocacy is documented in user-friendly the Guide for Anti-Discrimination Advocacy (available only in B/H/S in section Publications), targeting CSO and stakeholders that would like to undertake anti-discrimination advocacy or advocacy in general.
* Mediacentar Sarajevo, Analitika – Center for Social Research, PRAVA ZA SVE and Vaša prava BiH are members of the Coalition. The Coalition promotes the active role of civil society and citizens in the fight against discrimination in Bosnia and Herzegovina through legal and paralegal aid in cases of discrimination; lead and support fact and knowledge based advocacy campaigns aiming to improve implementation of the anti-discrimination policies, laws and practices; builds capacities of communities and organizations to support the victims and the fight against discrimination. Work and activities of the Coalition are currently supported by USAID and the Open Society Fund Bosnia and Herzegovina.
** The Coalition defines anti-discrimination advocacy as various activities of CSOs aiming to build society without discrimination through the implementation of the LPD. The primary focus of this type of advocacy is to support the implementation of the LPD as well as other anti-discriminatory legislation and policies or, legislation that have anti-discriminatory provisions.
MONITORING, REPORTING AND ADVOCATING FOR WOMENS RIGHTS
(in the Bosnia and Herzegovina, through EU Accession processes and in front of the United nation institutions)
PRAVA ZA SVE implements a numerous of activities to include and strengthen women’s rights in the BiH’s accession process to the European Union. This includes securing of women’s rights through laws and practice and active participation of the women and women’s organizations in these processes. In cooperation with the Women Advocacy Group, consisting of 8 organizations from BiH, PRAVA ZA SVE monitor and analyze the BiH Country Report, which annually prepares the European Commission.
The advocacy document “Contribution of the Women’s Advocacy Group to the 2016 BH Country Report“ was prepared and submitted to the European commission. Although the European Commission postponed publishing of the BH Country Report for 2017, PRAVA ZA SVE and the Women’s Advocacy Group produced the “Contribution of the Women’s Advocacy Group to the 2017 BH Country Report“.
PRAVA ZA SVE jointly with the Women’s Advocacy Group developed “Alternative Answers to the European Commission Questionnaire: Women’s Perspectives“. BiH still has not provided answers to the Questionnaire of the EC, so published Alternative responses create additional pressure toward national authorities. PRAVA ZA SVE continues its activities by monitoring and actively engaging in the discussion of individual chapters in the pre-accession process later on through the “Alliance for the EU“.
PRAVA ZA SVE for two years actively participates in a program of advocacy for women’s rights before the EU institutions in Brussels, where at numerous of meetings with various officials persons for the Balkans present the status of women’s rights in BiH, the social and political situation, and in particular the findings from the above mentioned Contributions to the BH Country reports.
PRAVA ZA SVE in cooperation with more than 20 CSOs from all over BH coordinated and participated in the preparation of the forth Alternative Reports on the CEDAW Convention for the period 2013-2017. The Report discusses the implementation of the recommendations of the CEDAW Committee and the progress in achieving the gender equality in BiH. Representatives of the PRAVA ZA SVE have directly presented the Alternative reports and advocated the adoption of recommendations for improvement of CEDAW implementation through legislation and practices. All available Alternative reports published so far can be found in the Publications section.
The PRAVA ZA SVE systematically monitors and conducts research on the women rights, which serve as a basis for various advocacy campaigns. As expert organization for women’s rights, PRAVA ZA SVE have supported and participated in the work of a number of government’s working groups for policy making in the areas of foster care, social services, family and children policy, etc. With a group of parliamentarians and experts gathered in the Expert Working Group successfully advocated for changes in the Law on Protection from Domestic Violence, the Criminal Code of the Federation and the entire set of laws in the field of social and health care.
BiH signed some major human rights conventions. BiH adopted basic human rights legislation. However, legislation is not implemented while institutions are continuing to breach citizens’ right. Access to education, work and employment, social and health protection rights are frequently violated in BiH. Workers’ rights are violated, inter alia, due to non-payment of salary and/or obligatory social and pension insurance by employers, prevention of the trade union rights to establish and act, various violations of the maternity leave rights. Poverty and high rate of unemployment are contributing in violation of rights as well as lack of capacities of inspections to act efficiently. BiH Social protection system is expensive, bureaucratized, and at the same time ineffective and does not contribute to the protection of the most vulnerable people. Level of social benefits and rights are based on territory and categorization while not taking into consideration actual needs and levels of individual vulnerability of a beneficiary.
Violation of marginalized people rights is particularly concerning. Persons with disability are discriminated in access to social and health rights based on origins of disability. Inclusion is not enforced and is often based on a family efforts rather than systemic approach. CSO reports indicate that only 1-3% of Roma are employed in institutions. Lack of awareness on their rights and discrimination causes a large number of Roma have no identification cards and consequently cannot exercise rights. The citizens are discriminated based to gender identity or sexual orientation. Exposed to public condemnations and physical attacks, LGBT persons do not report violence since then would be pressured to publicly admit sexual orientation and risk new attacks. There is no effective response to hate speech and hate crime
Prava za sve works on legal literacy on relevant laws, standards and protection mechanisms for CSO, particularly organization advocating for marginalized groups or communities. In partnership with other organizations, Prava za sve monitor human rights implementation and reporting demanding systemic reforms, changes in laws, policies and practice; lead advocacy actions including debates in BiH Parliaments or parliamentary committees demanding more efficient protection of human rights; we analyze draft laws and recommend new legal solutions, we cooperate with ministry in new social protection policies and law drafting. More information on Prava za sve advocacy work is available in section Advocacy. Prava za sve human rights reports and Guided on accessing rights are available in section Publications.