March 2021


As part of the celebration of International Women's Day, the TPO Foundation, in cooperation with the British Embassy in Sarajevo, launched a program for young people and organized a panel discussion on gender equality in Bosnia. On Wednesday, March 3, 2021, the first panel discussion intended for high school students in BiH was held. Over 140 participants participated on this panel, which was opened by the Deputy Ambassador of the Embassy of the United Kingdom in Sarajevo, Dr. Ruth Wiseman and Program Director of the TPO Foundation, prof. dr. Zilka Spahić Šiljak, while the panellists were Una Bejtović and Damir Arsenijević.
The panel discussion was attended by students and their teachers of 13 high schools from Sarajevo, Tuzla, Maglaj, Zenica, Visoko, Kakanj, Mostar and Konjic, and this was a great opportunity for students to exchange their opinions on the impact of the media on young people and mechanisms for prevention of gender-based violence that we often witness in school or the local community. The panel discussion is based on a Jennifer Siebel News film called Miss Representation, which all participants had the opportunity to watch before the panel discussion. Given that the film focuses on the positive and negative effects of the media on the emotional, social, political and economic development of young people, especially women, the aim of the panel discussion was to empower young people to recognize the negative effects that the media often subtly leave on young people on men and especially on the girls and women.

Through the panel, the aim is to further encourage young people with the skills to successfully overcome the challenges that society imposes through different standards and criteria for men and women. The first panellist, Una Bejtović, a long-time journalist and activist, commented on the war, emphasizing that women in the war were the ones who saves the lives, but later they lost that power again, became more and more objectified and imposed by standards that were difficult or impossible to follow. She concluded that we live in a society in which we are culturally shaped not to support women and we have to work especially hard to start changing such culture. Damir Arsenijević, professor at the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Tuzla, directed his presentation towards the history of Bosnia and Herzegovina emancipation and stressed that the fight for equality is very important, especially because we must resist violence and high school students must know what is allowed and what should never be asked of them. In that sense, he supported initiatives that support victims to talk about gender-based violence. Through group discussions, the young participants concluded that there is a great need to establish programs in schools that will help raise awareness and educate students and teachers, which would further contribute to gender equality in every segment of our society. The next panel organized by TPO with the British Embassy is scheduled for 5th of March when we discuss the importance of these topics with students and young journalists through the prism of International Women's Day.