The Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia Maja Gojkovic took part in the forum “Women in Rural Areas” in Gornja Trepca, part of the rural women empowerment campaign.
Gojkovic said that the campaign’s objective is to talk with women living in villages about the problems they face and raise public awareness on these problems because women in rural areas deserve the same attention, support and chance as the ones living in cities.
The goal is, she stressed, to raise awareness on the importance and need for the economic empowerment of women in rural areas, particularly through enterprise incentives, empowerment against domestic violence and to motivate women to have preventive medical tests.
“This is the fifth forum on the life and problems of women living in rural areas aimed at finding a way to make them want to stay in villages. The objective of our programme is to expand the debate on the problem beyond parliamentary, government and local self-government representatives and hear the experiences of the women living here”, said Gojkovic in her talk with the women of Gornja Trepca.
Gojkovic said that, when speaking of women’s representation in the decision-making process, we mostly speak of women in urban areas.
“And when we come to the village we realize that the women who elected us to represent them are invisible and that they face a wide variety of problems”, Gojkovic said adding that the National Assembly currently has 93 women MPs with the goal to, after the next parliamentary election, make women living in villages just as visible as their urban counterparts.
Gojkovic stressed that it is essential to encourage women to report violence as the country has good laws on domestic violence, but the issue needs to be discussed openly. Gojkovic said that people in urban areas turn a blind eye to domestic violence and it is so much harder to encourage the women who suffer violence to report in rural areas, which is why it is vital to offer protection and support to the victims of violence through the system.
Gojkovic said that the patriarchal and traditional environment of rural areas lead to men mainly being property owners which is why we need to work on the economic empowerment of women, and stressed that healthcare needs to be more accessible to women in rural areas.
Besides the National Assembly Speaker, the attending women of the village of Rajac, Prijevor, Gornja Gorevnica and Lipnica who took part in the panel discussion, were also addressed by Minister without portfolio responsible for demography and population policy Prof. Dr Slavica Djukic Dejanovic, Mayor of Cacak Milun Todorovic, member of the City Council in charge of healthcare and assistant director of Cacak General Hospital Slavica Dragutinovic and president of the Color Press Group Robert Coban.
The “Women in Rural Areas” campaign is realized with the support of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs, Minister without portfolio responsible for demography and population policy and the Office for Human and Minority Rights as a series of forums with women living in the rural areas of Serbia.
Since 8 March, International Women’s Day, when it was launched with a conference at the National Assembly House, the campaign had forums in Novi Zednik (Subotica), Banatsko Veliko Selo (Kikinda), Gamzigrad (Zajecar), Lucica (Pozarevac) and is to visit the rural areas of Sremska Mitrovica and Novi Sad in June.