Within the campaign ‘16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence’ and HeForShe campaign, UN Women in Bosnia and Herzegovina will publish interviews with men who advocate gender equality in their community on the campaign website www.16dana.ba. The views expressed herein are those of the interviewees and do not necessarily reflect the views of UN Women or any other agency of the United Nations.
Josip Bilandžija is an inspector at the Ministry of Interior of Sarajevo Canton, and coordinator for police work with the community. He is involved in programs of education and sensitization of police officers on cases of violence against the LGBT population and activities on fighting gender based violence. Being aware of the stereotypes every society is full of, this inspector from Sarajevo strives to dedicate his everyday work to gender equality.
What does your work on combating gender based violence consist of?
Gender based violence includes violence against women, children and all underage persons, against men and against LGBT people. I coordinate activities related to police officer education, for example aimed at fostering better understandings of the problems the LGBT community encounters. LGBT thematic is new for the police and it has been taboo, so we are interested to learn more.
Do you consider education to be a priority for the realization of the same possibilities for women and men?
Education is very important, and not only education but establishing a system of values. It is a necessity to highly prioritize human life with the goal of protection from and prevention of violence, especially when it comes to vulnerable populations.
Recently I saw a message on a social network by a public figure who said that women are a way stronger sex, women give much more to this society and this world. Women are way more capable and live longer than men.. When we talk about gender based violence, it is important to acknowledge inequalities, and this is where education has a great role, but not only formal education which is a bit obsolete – education through media and public events becomes more and more significant. This doesn’t have to be a single campaign, this can be any chance for anyone to communicate the message we want to become visible.
In your opinion, why is it crucial to have women as police officers?
From the perspective of the society we live in, men simply must understand that there is no society, there is no life without women, because mutuality of relationships forms society. Women must have an opportunity to participate in all aspects of society and work. For instance, in police work it is important to have female colleagues when approaching women and children. Female colleagues have a sensitive approach and they form trustworthy relationships faster. Also, police checks are required to have the same sex police officer to do the checking. When it comes to criminal acts, accidents or any unwanted event, police are the first to arrive at the location and it is always good to have a woman on board in the patrol. I am not saying that male police officers are not ready to perform these activities, but experience show that children have more trust when talking to women.
Can you tell us about a woman who inspired you in work or life?
My mother is my basic inspiration because she supported me in my every project, and she always protected me. We develop special relationships with our mothers and everything we say about them is touching. For instance, why is the state of France represented as a woman? Because homeland means a sense of care for its residents; the state takes care of its citizens as a mother cares for her children. The symbolism means a lot – the way a mother behaves towards her children is the way the state should behave towards its citizens. Freedom is represented in the form of a woman. Justice as well.