LABOUR MSP Kezia Dugdale is among those leading the first all-women delegation from a Scottish charity heading to Bosnia to forge links to tackle gender violence.
The former Scottish Labour leader is one of 12 women visiting Bosnia with charity Remembering Srebrenica Scotland to meet organisations representing female victims of the Bosnian War.
Lorna Hood, former Moderator of the Church of Scotland and chairwoman of the charity, is also heading up the delegation which will leave for the visit to Sarajevo, Srebrenica, Tuzla and Zanica on Friday.
Representatives from Young Scot, Colleges Scotland, Glasgow Caledonian University, Amina Muslim Women’s Resource Centre, Christian Aid and the Glasgow Women’s Library are among those in the group.
They hope to build relationships with organisations and women in Bosnia to ensure women and girls in Scotland can learn about the genocide that took place.
The delegation is the 11th from Scotland to visit Srebrenica, where Bosnian Serb forces murdered 8,372 Bosnian Muslim men and boys in a single day in 1995.
The charity organises commemoration events and wants people to from the lessons of the past and highlight the potential for ethnic tensions to escalate into violence.
This year’s visit will focus on breaking the silence on women’s experience of the genocide as 20,000 and 50,000 were raped during the war and thousands lost husbands and fathers.
Among those the delegation is due to meet are Dr Fatima Dautbasic-Klempic, a survivor of the death march and the only female doctor in Srebrenica during the war, the Mothers of Srebrenica campaigners and the organisation Medica Zenica which supports survivors of sexualised wartime violence.
Ms Dugdale said: “My visit to Srebrenica in 2017 was a harrowing experience.
“I travelled to an old refugee centre where the UN Dutch forces took in 5,000 women and children before turning everybody else away.
“The men they turned away were all slaughtered.
“On this trip, I want to learn more about the often-forgotten female victims of the war – the women who lost husbands and fathers, and the unimaginable torture they endured.
She added: “To this day, they still strive for peace and justice.
“I know we will come home with a greater knowledge of the genocide, and hope to forge new links between Scotland and the organisations which represent female victims of the Bosnian war.”
Ms Hood said: “Over 1,000 people from the UK have visited Srebrenica as part of our work programme, each coming home with a new understanding of the genocide to pass on to people and ensure we never forget the victims.
“On this trip, the delegation will learn first-hand about what happened in Srebrenica, and the importance of tackling hatred and intolerance to help build a better, safer and more cohesive society for everyone.
“This is our first all-women delegation, with a particular focus on gender violence. It will be deeply distressing at times, but we are committed to raising awareness of the genocide.”