Wednesday, 8 March 2017
International Women’s Day, 8 March, is the time to remember all the women who left a deep mark in our history and send a message that women’s rights in Serbia should be discussed every day, not just today.
The status of women in Serbia has been improved, but we still do not have the same rights as men. That is why we must persevere in the fight. By adopting gender-responsive public policies, the state has the leading role in creating conditions conducive to gender equality.
Our common goal must be to create the conditions where the only measure of success is work and results, not whether you are a man or a woman.
The National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia has recognized the need to strengthen gender equality and endorsed the work of the Women’s Parliamentary Network, comprised of women MPs from all the political parties. We passed the Law on Preventing Domestic Violence and introduced gender-responsive budgeting to enable the economic empowerment of women.
40% of women in Serbia are employed, 26% are entrepreneurs, 15% have their own businesses, but only 8% are municipal presidents or mayors, while about 15% of women take part in the executive power but do not receive the same pay as men for the same job.
The presidential election is an opportunity to have the candidates respond to what they would do to raise these percentages. That is what 51.7% of the citizens of Serbia – women, are waiting for.
The National Assembly House hosted the conference marking the completion of project “Integration of Gender Mainstreaming into Local Economic Governance by Joint Action of Women’s Parliamentary Network and Association of Businesswomen”, conducted with the help of the Canadian Embassy in Belgrade.
In addition to the representatives of the Women’s Parliamentary Network, Association of Businesswomen in Serbia, and the Canadian Ambassador to Serbia H.E. Philip Herbert Pinnington, the conference was also attended by representatives of local self-governments and associations of women entrepreneurs from Kraljevo, Zrenjanin and Vranje.
Sanja Popovic Pantic, President of the Association of Businesswomen in Serbia, thanked the participants for the successful completion of the project which mainly concerned public advocacy, emphasizing the importance of cooperation with the Women’s Parliamentary Network as the key institution in the process. She added that the project raised awareness on pursuing gender-responsive policies and promoting women’s entrepreneurship at the local level. The project aimed to conduct, in the abovementioned cities, one of three models of budget initiatives: launching gender statistics in recording of the local small/micro entrepreneurs, establishment of the Fund to support woman’s entrepreneurship and self-employment, and involvement of women entrepreneurs into the supply chain, which, after seminars, has started to yield good results.
In a short address, Ambassador Pinnington shared his pleasure at the project results, stressing that Canada, as a state striving to promote the rights of women and girls, empower them and provide them with equal political representation, would continue to support projects of this kind in Serbia, in the interest of both countries.
Marija Obradovic, coordinator of the Women’s Parliamentary Network, said that the process of empowering women in Serbia is a long-term one and the work of everyone involved so far has yielded visible results. She stressed that this projects is just one small step in the fight for the empowerment of women in Serbia and one extremely important for fostering ties among local women entrepreneurs and representatives of local institutions.
WPN member Aleksandra Tomic, who represented the WPN in Vranje, said that Serbia is one of few states which had managed to successfully implement gender-responsive budgeting last year, making 2016 the year of entrepreneurship. Tomic added that the amendments adopted when the 2017 budget was passed, securing support for women scientists in Serbia, keep the idea of gender-responsive budgeting alive.
Speaking of gender-responsive budgeting, Dubravka Filipovski, who represented the WPN at the conference in Zrenjanin, said that the support of all the state institutions in the process had proved greatly importance, especially that of the Ministry of Finance which has, since the onset of programme budgeting, launched training and implementation at the local level.
In the discussion, the participants listed the results of previous conferences in the abovementioned cities, with a special focus on networking among councilwomen and introduction of gender-responsive budgeting for 2017 in Zrenjanin, introduction of stimulation measures for self-employment through the Local Action Plan and the establishment of the Association of Women Entrepreneurs in Kraljevo, expected to happen in March, as well as the Fair of Women Entrepreneurs this year, and speaking of Vranje, the increased inclusion of women into local policies, endorsed by the local self-government.
Finally, the participants of the Conference concluded that though long, the process of empowering women entrepreneurs in Serbia has in a short time yielded significant results and projects of this kind, such as continuous educational training, are a good way to raise public awareness on gender equality.
The Women’s Parliamentary Network of Serbia was established at the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia four years ago, on 14 February 2013, for the first time in Serbia’s parliamentary history, after the introduction of the quota system in the parliamentary elections held on 6 May 2012.
The Women’s Parliamentary Network comprises women MPs focusing on five objectives: women’s and family heath, combating violence against women and children, economic empowerment of women, education of women and promotion of women’s knowledge, and increased participation of women in political and public life.
In the four years of active work, the Women’s Parliamentary Network, in cooperation with the Government’s Coordination body for gender equality, Office of the Commissioner for Equality, civil sector and international organizations, has achieved significant results in Serbia, among them:
- Amendment of the Criminal Code, in cooperation with the Incest Trauma Centre, eliminating the statute of limitation for acts of sexual violence against minors; introduction of sexual harassment topics into elementary and high-school textbooks i.e. how to recognize and combat sexual harassment;
- Adoption of the Law on Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, to come into force on 1 July 2017;
- Introduction of gender-responsive budgeting into the Budget Law, in cooperation with the Ministry of Finance, civil and international organizations, to better allocate funds for the needs of men and women as end-beneficiaries;
- Organization of four annual national conferences attended by about 1000 councilwomen from all Serbian towns and municipalities aimed at empowerment and networking. The result of the conferences is the creation of 53 councilwomen’s networks across Serbia;
- WPN initiated the establishment of a regional network of women MPs from South-East Europe at the international conference in Belgrade, 2-3 March 2015, so that they can cooperate on gender equality.
WPN’s future priorities will be passing new laws and monitoring the implementation of existing ones, raising awareness on women’s solidarity, affirmation of gender equality at all decision-making levels, urging for a 50% representation in the executive, equal pay for equal work, more active engagement of women in local policies and higher media visibility of the Women’s Parliamentary Network for the purpose of improving the living and working conditions of the 51.7% of the population of Serbia – women.
In the National Assembly building, the members of WPN presented the work of the Parliament and the results achieved in the area of women’s rights to the representatives of the Balkan Democracy Fund and a group of scholarship students from USA. Continue reading Meeting between Women’s Parliamentary Network, the Balkan Democracy Fund and a group of scholarship students from USA
In the National Assembly Building, the meeting of WPN was held. The topic was the Fourth National Conference of WPN held on November 4th. Continue reading Meeting of Women’s Parliamentary Network
Today in Kraljevo, there was a workshop held organised by the Association of Businesswomen of Serbia and WPN. The topic of the workshop was gender disaggregated statistical data collection on local, small and micro enterprises, establishing of a fund for support to women’s entrepreneurship and self-employment, and participation of women in supply chains. Continue reading Support to women’s entrepreneurship
In the National Assembly Building, the Working Group for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities and Women’s Parliamentary Network jointly presented the cooperation between the National Assembly and civil society organisations. Continue reading Presentation of the Working Group for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities and Women’s Parliamentary Network on the importance of informal parliamentary groups
In the National Assembly Building, the Fourth National Conference of Women’s Parliamentary Network was held, presenting the results achieved by the WPN Coordinators in the previous year, as well as the goals for the upcoming period and good practice examples in women’s networking. Continue reading Fourth National Conference of Women’s Parliamentary Network
Today, in the National Assembly Building, the coordinators of WPN held their first working meeting in the 9th Convocation of the National Assembly. Continue reading Meeting of Coordinators of Women’s Parliamentary Network of the 9th Convocation of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia