2021 Peace, Security and Conflict Other

Hierarchical Sisterhood – Supporting Women’s Peacebuilding through Swedish Aid to Bosnia and Herzegovina 1993−2013

Sanela Bajramović

International peacebuilding in conflict-affected areas entails possibilities as well as challenges. Focusing on the engagement of Swedish foundation Kvinna till Kvinna in Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1993 and 2013, this DDB analyzes encounters with domestic NGOs to understand the international-local relationship.

The report was one of three reports presented during the EBA webinar Listening to Locals in Peacebuilding – Experiences from Bosnia, Myanmar and International Peacebuilding Partnerships.

Main findings

  • The overall findings suggest that a mixture of Kvinna till Kvinna’s own notions of women’s peacebuilding and of the area in which it operated, along with donor agendas and concrete circumstances on the ground, both enabled and limited its work in Bosnia.
  • For female Bosnian NGO employees, Kvinna till Kvinna distinguished itself from other development actors through the expression of genuine care, the ability to take them seriously and engage in dialogue with them.
  • The results expose power imbalances, the practice of Kvinna till Kvinna in Bosnia illustrates that the organization, despite a general emphasis on local ownership, systematically exercised soft power over its Bosnian ‘partners’.

Sanela Bajramović is a senior lecturer at the School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences, Örebro University. She defended her dissertation Hierarchical Sisterhood: Supporting Women’s Peacebuilding through Swedish Aid to Bosnia and Herzegovina 1993–2013 in October 2018. Her research interests include women in conflict zones, women’s transnational encounters, international peacebuilding and peace education.