After women lawmakers in Bosnia’s Federation entity agreed to form a special women’s caucus, a Sarajevo mayor has caused controversy by calling it an exercise in ‘brain washing’.Members of the Women’s Network, an association of women’s groups and individuals in Bosnia, have condemned a Sarajevo mayor’s onslaught on their idea, and demanded an apology.
Semir Efendic, mayor of Novi Grad municipality in Sarajevo, wrote on a social network on February 4 that it was absurd for women to unite in parliament especially.
“Sex is a completely wrong basis for political organization and can only do harm, especially to women who through such organizations get brain washed to the point where they are no longer capable of normal socialization with the rest of the society,” Efendic wrote.
The Women’s group said they “condemn a public and private opinion, which says that women, by tradition and patriarchal principles, are unnecessary in political and public life”.
The association said Efendic had insulted the dignity of women and effectively sought their elimination from politics. They described Efendic’s remarks as sexist and discriminatory and said he should no longer be a mayor.
The exchange of accusations follows a recent decision of women MPs in Bosnia’s Federation entity to form a cross-party caucus whose aim is to oversee all proposed legislation in the light of women’s interests.
They said on Monday their aim was to improve the position of women in the country, by uniting representatives of eight parties and several independent MPs.
“Forming such a caucus is an expression of the need of female parliamentarians to cooperate more efficiently in adopting laws and policies which aim to improve [women’s] status and protect the rights of citizens,” the association said.
Efendic has since Monday released another statement, maintaining that he did not mean that women should not actively participate in politics and repeating that his meaning was that sex cannot be a basis for organizing politically.
A similar cross-party women’s caucus was formed in the Serbian parliament last week, following similar practices in parliaments in many other countries.