4 November 2016 Fourth National Conference of the Women’s Parliamentary Network

4 November 2016 Fourth National Conference of the Women’s Parliamentary Network

Friday, 4 November 2016

Fourth National Conference of Women’s Parliamentary Network

The Fourth National Conference of the Women’s Parliamentary Network, held at the National Assembly House, focused on the results achieved by the WPN coordinators in the last year, objectives for the coming period and best practice examples of women networking.

The Conference was opened by National Assembly Speaker Maja Gojkovic who congratulated the Women’s Parliamentary Network on the results achieved so far, the networking of women at the local and central level, and thanked the 500 councilwomen from 116 Serbian municipalities attending the Conference for their support. Gojkovic listed the WPN’s achievements – economic empowerment of women, combating violence against women, introduction of gender responsive budgeting which led to the allocation of budgetary funds for women entrepreneurs and encouraging women to take up agriculture.

“We can proudly say that our country has excellent laws that equate women and men in all areas, and the question now for me and every woman MP here is what should be done to make sure these laws are enforced and how to bring women into decision-making positions crucial for our country’s fate”, said the National Assembly Speaker.

“Only if these laws become practice can we say that we are truly equal with men. There should be more women at the head of public enterprises, supervisory boards and mayors/municipal presidents”, said Gojkovic. She informed that attending that the Republic of Serbia ranks fifth in Europe by the number of women in its parliament, but the reality is that unemployment among women in the country is far higher than among men and men are still paid more than women for the same job.

Marija Obradovic said that the decision to have this year’s WPN Conference gather women in the legislative power, MPs and councilwomen, had the strong support of National Assembly Speaker Maja Gojkovic, Secretary General Svetislava Bulajic, OSCE and ODIHR.

“Women MPs and the Women’s Parliamentary Network organised the Conference but it is you, councilwomen, who are at the heart of the story”, said Obradovic. She also added that the fact that 85 of the 250 MPs are women and nine of the 20 assembly committees are headed by women, speaks volumes about the strengthening of gender equality in Serbia.

Before the attending were addressed by the Commissioner for Protection of Equality Brankica Jankovic, the participants greeted women MPs from Kosovo-Metohija by thunderous applause, and Marija Obradovic stressed that they can always find support among the women members of the National Assembly. “We will continue to work together. This strength helps us be successful every day”, said Obradovic.

Commissioner for Protection of Equality Brankica Jankovic said that the skills, experience and creativity of women should not be neglected and, despite the impressive achievements as regards gender equality and increased participation of women in political and public life in the last 16 years, evidenced by the fact that 2000’s mere 7% of women in political and public life at the local level has today risen to one third of the total number, the situation concerning gender equality remains unsatisfactory. The Commissioner said that despite a good legislative framework against discrimination and violence against women, the practical results paint a different picture which should lead to a more decisive fight against patriarchal stereotypes and gender and cultural prejudice. She hopes that the introduction of quotas which had led to the increased number of women in politics, will become a thing of the past in the coming years and lead to a truly equal relationship of women and men in public life. The Women’s Parliamentary Network is a good example that, despite political differences and different beliefs, the joint forces of women MPs pursuing common goals can give impressive results.

Jan Lueneburg Head of the OSCE Mission to Serbia Democratisation Department, also addressed the Conference saying he was very pleased have the opportunity to say to the 500 councilwomen from 116 city and municipal assemblies that he has from the very beginning taken active part in the fight against domestic violence and discrimination in the Republic of Serbia and encouraged the development of gender equality mechanisms.

After the opening addresses, members of the Women’s Parliamentary Network Stefana Miladinovic and Tatjana Macura gave a breakdown of the WPN’s activity plan and results in the period between the Third and Fourth National Conference and the objectives of the Fourth National Conference, while Tiina Kukkamaa-Bah presented the bests practice examples of women networking and experiences of OSCE member states.

The participants proceeded to discuss the following topics in three working groups: Introduction of gender responsive budgeting the Serbia – reviewing achieved results and identifying coming challenges at all levels; Women alliances in the fight for a better position for women in society and Gender mainstreaming of local assemblies.

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