Discrimination of newly delivered mothers in Bosnia and Herzegovina still present

Due to the difficult economic situation and a reduced tax revenue for budgets in Bosnia and Herzegovina, certain rights related to pregnancy, delivery and care for a newborn are being annulled. Payment of maternity benefits for newly delivered mothers in BiH is highly unharmonised and in some parts of the country these payments are not being made at all. This leads to even more of a legal insecurity and discrimination of women. The fact is that birthrate in our country reduced continuously, especially in those areas where protection of motherhood is not adequately regulated.

This points to the need to draw BiH authorities' attention to addressing of this issue. These are just some of many consequences caused by inadequate legal provisions related to the protecion of newly delivered mothers and families with children in BiH. Unless this problem is given the due attention, we will be confronted with long term and significant consequences for the health of mothers, children and families in general.

According to the current legal framework, there are 12 different legal solutions in BiH pertaining to the rights of newly delivered mothers. Situation in the Federation BiH is particularly complex, given that authority in this field is shared between entities and cantons, in a way that a legal framework is set at the Entity level, while Cantons are responsible for implementation and actual payment of maternity benefits. The problem is that cantonal laws are not harmonised. Some Cantons do not have the relevant laws at all, while in other Cantons temporary decisions are in place to regulate payments of maternity benefits.

On the occasion of 13 May, International Mother's Day, we are taking the opportunity to remind the government structures in BiH of the need to urgently come up with an adequate legal solution to the issue of protection of motherhood and ensuring an equal treatment of all women in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Primarily, institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina at all levels of government should recognise importance of protection of motherhood, families and children, as a priority field of action, and find a solution to the currently discriminatory situation. This needs to be one of the priorities in government's work plans and programs.

According to the recommendations made by more than 200 representatives of institutions, organisations and individual participants of public consultations on exercising of rights by newly delivered mothers, which were held throughout BiH, concrete steps need to be made toward a systematic solution to this problem, and improvement of the current legislation, so as to improve, overall, the position of newly delivered mothers in BiH.

Activities aimed at promoting the position of newly delivered mothers in BiH are being implemented by VESTA Association from Tuzla, in partnership with United Women from Banja Luka, within the project Gender responsible budgeting as part of reform changes on the path of European integrations and the basis for strengthening of women's rights in BiH. Ther project is financially supported by the European Union and UN Women.

Should you need any further information, kindly contact Alem Sinanović, project assistant at Vesta Association (035 36 36 90; alem@vesta.ba).