Sabiha Husić – Women Peace Makers

Within hundreds of applications, one of four peacemakers selected this year to participate in an eight-week residency  at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice (IPJ), located on the University of San Diego campus in San Diego, California was Sabiha Husić. During that period, she had a chance to present the country, organization “Medica” Zenica,  her own work and contribution to human rights, justice and peace making in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Sabiha Husić, a psychotherapist, Islamic theologian and interreligious peacebuilder, is the director of the nongovernmental organization “Medica” Zenica in Bosnia-Herzegovina.” Medica” provides psychosocial, medical and economic support to women and children survivors/victims of war and post-war violence, including rape and sexual violence, domestic violence, torture and human trafficking.

She has advocated and created models that enable approaches adjusted to individual needs of victims/survivors and equal opportunities in Zenica-Doboj Canton and continued with that models of good practice in  Central-Bosnia Canton and Una-Sana Canton.Sabiha first learned of the organization “Medica” while displaced from her hometown of  Vitez to the city of  Zenica in 1993 during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“Medica” was working in the refugee camps, and Sabiha  recalls that “the approach toward women which I saw there gave me the reason to live, and my willingness to help other people was even bigger.” She became a volunteer, working directly with women survivors of sexual violence and has continued to help and support victims of  sexual and other kinds of violence during the war and post war period.

In 2010 she established the first institutionalized network of psychological support for victims and witnesses testifying in war crimes cases.Before the conflict, Bosnians, Serbs and Croats were “very good neighbors, friends, and celebrated religious holidays together. The war divided them overnight.”

 In this post-war climate, Sabiha urges reconciliation, bringing together women from all communities for workshops on stress and trauma, dialogue and conflict resolution. Along with two women from Switzerland (Reinhild Traitler-Espiritu and Teny Pirri-Simonian), they lead  the European Project for Interreligious Learning, which gathers Christian and Muslim women from five countries to promote understanding and tolerance. In Bosnia, this includes Serbian Orthodox Christians, Catholic Croats and Muslim Bosnians.  

In 2009 Sabiha was recognized by Volonteurope with the Active Citizen of Europe Award for voluntary activism and professional work with “Medica” Zenica, and was a featured speaker at the 2013 World Justice Forum — recognition that affirms her life’s motto: “I believe that small steps bring significant changes, no matter how small they seem to others.”