21 April 2014, no 021-02-17/2014-02
ALEKSANDAR VUČIĆ, mandatary for the composition of the Government of RS,
Nemanjina br. 11
Dear Mr. Vučić,
According to information from the media, Tomislav Nikolic, President of the Republic of Serbia, entrusted you with the mandate for the composition of the new Government of the Republic of Serbia, on which I congratulate you. I take the liberty of pointing out the necessity to take into account the uniform gender distribution when composing the new Government and appointing ministers.
As you know, Serbia has made important steps in the past years in terms of increasing the participation of women in political and public life. Thanks to the amendments to the Law on the Election of Members of Parliament, today one third of the deputies in the National Assembly of Serbia are women, which ranks Serbia as the 25th, according to the number of women in the highest representative body, Also, in the Government of the Republic of Serbia formed in 2012, where you were vice-president, women accounted for 26%, which was the highest percentage of women in comparison to all previous governments. Unfortunately, after the Government’s reconstruction, the number of women decreased considerably, reducing them to only 10%, although a recommendation was sent to Prime Minister Ivica Dačić before the reconstruction (No. 021-02-37/2013-02 of 15 August 2013), to pay attention to equal representation of women.
Bearing this in mind, I believe it is necessary to have a larger number of women within the new government in order to ensure that women fully participate in the executive branch. I take the liberty of reminding you of the key international and domestic acts regulating this field.
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW, 1979), ratified by the Republic of Serbia, stipulates, inter alia, the obligation of the state to take appropriate measures in all areas, especially in the political, social, economic and cultural fields, in order to ensure full development and advancement of women, and thus guarantee them the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, equally with men. Provision of Art. 7 of the Convention prescribes that Member States shall take all necessary measures to eliminate discrimination against women in political and public life, and in particular shall ensure that women, under equal conditions, vote in all elections and be nominated for all bodies elected through public elections, as well as participate in the creation and implementation of government policy, and assume leadership positions and perform all public functions at all levels of government. The obligation to provide women with equal access and full participation in power and decision-making structures is regulated by the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action of 1995, which state that the strengthening and improvement of the social, economic and political status of women is of primary importance for achieving a responsible and transparent government, and that the low percentage of women in economic and political decision-making bodies at the local, state, regional and international levels, maintains structural barriers and inability to access, which must be addressed through affirmative measures. Also, the Millennium Development Goals of 2006 are relevant, according to which one of the goals set to be achieved by 2015 is to increase the representation of women at all levels of political decision-making to at least 30%.
A number of documents of the Council of Europe and bodies of the European Union are also important: Resolution on the balanced participation of men and women in decision-making (1995), European Parliament resolution on women in decision-making (2000), European Parliament resolution on women in international politics (2006), Council of Europe Resolution 95/c 168/02 (1995), Recommendation on balanced participation of women and men in political and public decision-making (2003), and others.
The Constitution of the Republic of Serbia in Art. 21 prohibits discrimination on any ground, including gender, and in Art. 15 prescribes that the state guarantees equality of women and men and develops a policy of equal opportunities. The Law on Gender Equality from 2009 in Art. 2, para. 1, stipulates that gender equality implies equal participation of women and men in all areas of public and private life, in accordance with generally accepted rules of international law, ratified by international treaties, the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia and laws, while Art. 3, para. 2, stipulates that the policy of equal opportunities implies equal participation of the genders at all stages of planning, adoption and implementation of decisions that have an impact on the status of women and men. Furthermore, Art. 37 stipulates, inter alia, that gender equality is ensured when running for elections for all functions and appointments to public authorities, financial and other institutions.
The National Strategy for the Improvement of the Position of Women and the Promotion of Gender Equality (2009-2015) established, as one of the strategic goals, the realization of women’s rights to participate equally with men in decision-making. In order to achieve this goal, measures are envisaged for consistent enforcement of the right to participation of the less represented gender in all structures of representative bodies (p. 4.1.1), with at least 30% in the initial phase, and with 40% until the end of the implementation of the strategy, which falls within EU standards. Also, the strategy states that in order to ensure equal and equally distributed influence of women on decision-making, and thus provide for better representation of specific interests of women, it is not enough to have the appropriate number of women in representative bodies, but it is necessary that they participate in the executive branch as well (p. 4.1.2).
Although the current legislation, unfortunately, has not fixed the quota for the less represented gender in the highest executive body, I express my hope and belief that, as the mandatary for the composition of the new Government and the future Prime Minister, you will use your personal authority, influence and legal authority, and propose to the National Assembly the composition of a government that is in line with the principle of gender equality. This will demonstrate your commitment to this fundamental principle of modern democratic society and your understanding of the fact that equal and equally distributed participation of men and women in decision-making is one of the fundamental European values and foundations of democracy, that it promotes transparency in decision-making, increases the level of responsibility, and ensures a more just distribution of influence in the society, which accelerates the process of modernization and democratization of the society and overall social development.
With sincere appreciation,
COMMISSIONER FOR THE PROTECTION OF EQUALITY
dr Nevena Petrušić