07 September 2014, 021-02-229/2014-02
Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia
Dear Mr. Vucic,
In accordance with my legal obligation, as the Commissioner for Equality, to monitor the implementation of laws pertaining to the prohibition of discrimination and recommend measures to achieve equality, with this recommendation, I point to the need for the establishment of a national institutional mechanisms for gender equality, whose operation would improve implementation of gender equality policy in the Republic of Serbia.
As you know, with the ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Republic of Serbia has committed to take all appropriate measures, including legislative measures, to ensure the full development and advancement of women, in order to guarantee the exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal basis with men in all areas, in particular in the political, social, economic and cultural area. In the previous period the Republic of Serbia has made significant progress in the field of promoting gender equality. The Law on Gender Equality (2009), the Law on the Prohibition of Discrimination (2009), and the National Strategy for the Improvement of the Status of Women and Promotion of Gender Equality (2009) have been adopted, and the institutional mechanisms at the national, provincial and the local level have been established. In addition to the Council for Gender Equality of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, a Directorate for Gender Equality was established, as a special state body under the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy. Despite the positive developments, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, in its concluding observations on the combined second and third periodic report for the Republic of Serbia in July 2013, expressed its regret that the institutions and bodies for the advancement of women do not have sufficient human resources nor adequate means and powers to influence government policy and decision-making.
I regret that the Committee’s recommendations has not been implemented and that the situation has been further aggravated because the Directorate for Gender Equality, whose mandate had been achieving and promoting gender equality, ceased to exist.
As you know, in a joint statement made by the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality and the Ombudsman in April 2014, on the occasion of the adoption of the Law on Ministries, the need to ensure institutional mechanisms for effective implementation, monitoring and planning of state administration in the area of human rights, including in the field of gender equality was pointed out.
Looking at the current situation, given the difficulties that accompany the implementation of the gender equality policy and the high level of structural, institutional and individual discrimination that women in Serbia are still exposed to, I consider it necessary that the Government of the Republic of Serbia takes all necessary measures in order to establish an appropriate institutional mechanism for implementation of gender equality policy at the national level. This is confirmed by the findings of the public opinion research “Attitudes of citizens towards discrimination in Serbia”, which the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality conducted in late 2013, according to which women are ranked first by exposure to discrimination in Serbia, which is an estimate by as much as 42% of the subjects. It is therefore of paramount importance that an adequate government body in Serbia exists that will monitor the implementation of the Law on Gender Equality, create and monitor the implementation of the national strategy, work on drafting laws and other regulations in this area, provide technical and administrative support to the work of the Council for Gender Equality of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, implement the recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, and cooperate with the authorities of the autonomous provinces and the bodies of the local self-governments. The need to create an adequate institutional framework for the implementation of gender equality is important in the process of European integration because gender equality is an important segment of human rights and is part of a series of chapters that will be the subject of negotiations.
The existence of a state body with the above stated responsibilities is particularly important bearing in mind that both the National Strategy for the Improvement of the Status of Women and Promotion of Gender Equality and the National Strategy for Combating Sexual and Gender-based Violence are related to the period up to 2015, and that it was necessary to develop a new strategic document, and that the work of the permanent working bodies or employees for gender equality and the work of achieving equal opportunities in the units of local self-government is not coordinated, and there is no professional support for their work at the national level.
Bearing in mind that for the process of promoting gender equality, the strengthening of the institutional mechanism is of a particular importance, I have made this recommendation and express the hope that the Government of the Republic of Serbia and you personally would take all the necessary measures to improve the work of state administration in the field of equality between women and men and continued work on developing a policy of equal opportunities.
COMMISSIONER FOR THE PROTECTION OF EQUALITY
dr Nevena Petrušić