The members of the Women's Parliamentary Network had a meeting today in the National Assembly House, headed by the chairing network coordinator Sandra Bozic and OSCE Secretary General Helga Schmid.
At the beginning of the meeting, Sandra Bozic said that the Women's Parliamentary Network was established in 2013 as an informal association, aimed at, among other things, making visible progress in terms of gender equality. She said that the network’s focus is to combat violence against women, adding that Serbia had adopted the Gender Equality Index for 2021, third one so far.
This year, the Index deals with the gender aspect of digitalisation and the future of work and the data clearly shows that Serbia has made serious progress on the issue. She said that Serbia is one of four EU candidate countries that has calculated and published this Index. "Serbia can be proud of the results, bearing in mind that women are represented in parliament by 40%, all that thanks to the President of the Republic of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic who supported this initiative", said Bozic.
She also informed the guest that women make up 50% of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, headed by Prime Minister Ana Brnabic. Speaking of the domain of power, Bozic stressed that, within the Gender Equality Index, it is very important to point out that women in Serbia have experienced significant improvements.
She said that the topic of last year’s WPN National Conference was gender equality problems during the coronavirus pandemic, the conclusion of which was that the crisis puts a much bigger burden on women than men.
Sandra Bozic also spoke about the prevention of violence against women, which is the core of the Women's Parliamentary Network’s struggle.
Speaking of the Women's Parliamentary Network’s Conference in Priboj, organised in cooperation with the OSCE, where representatives of local self-governments discussed the implementation of the Law on Gender Equality, Bozic highlighted the importance of holding such meetings in local self-governments, because they tend to empower women in economic, political and educational terms and raise awareness on violence against women, encouraging women survivors of violence to seek help and support.
OSCE Secretary General Helga Schmid said she was very pleased with the meeting, sharing how impressed she was that 40% of the Serbian Parliament are women, whereas in the German Parliament they make up 34%.
Helga Schmid pointed out that in 2004 the OSCE Mission opted for increased participation of women in all member states, adding that participation of women in politics and their protection are high on the OSCE agenda. Combating violence against women is another important topic addressed by the Mission.
Schmid wanted to know more about the status of doubly discriminated women, the role of men in parliament, as well as gender-sensitive budgeting. She was also interested in the adoption of the Third National Action Plan for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and in whose jurisdiction it would be.
Sandra Bozic said that Serbia is well aware of and invests maximum efforts into issues concerning doubly discriminated women, be they disabled, refugees, Roma or discriminated on some other grounds. Speaking of gender-sensitive budgeting, WPN influences the councillors’ network and in meetings in local self-governments, we discusses and analyses the restructuring of revenues and expenditures with the aim to improve gender equality, Bozic said.
WPN coordinator Natasa Mihailovic Vacic also spoke at the meeting, stressing that Serbia has made significant progress and adding that the legislative framework necessary for all this to be applied in practice i.e. all the regulations that can affect the improvement of gender equality, has been adopted. She said that the National Assembly passed the Law on Gender Equality, as well as the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination. She went on to speak about gender-sensitive budgeting, saying that a rulebook is currently being drafted, which will be submitted to local self-governments by the end of November, as a handbook to help them enter the process of gender-sensitive programmes, which are to be implemented in their budgets, more easily.
Mihailovic Vacic pointed out that the economic empowerment of women is very important, as is raising women’s awareness on reporting violence, seeking help and support.
The Head of the OSCE Mission to Serbia Jan Braathu and WPN coordinator Snezana Paunovic also took part in the meeting.