14. Aug 2013, ref. no. 021-02-37/2013-02
GOVERNMENT OF REPUBLIC OF SERBIA
IVICA DAČIĆ, Prime Minister of the RS
Dear Mr. Dačić,
Based on the information from the media that the process of reconstruction of the Government of the Republic of Serbia has begun, I am free to point out the need to take into account the equal representation of genders when appointing new ministers. As you know, Serbia has made significant steps in the past years in terms of increasing women’s participation in political and public life, recognizing that equal 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 equitable distribution of the influence in society, which speeds up the process of modernization and democratization of the society and the overall social development. So far, the women of the Government of the Republic of Serbia that you have lead accounted for 26%, which is the highest percentage of women in comparison to all previous governments. Thanks to the amendments to the Law on the Election of Members of Parliament, 82 women (32.8%) are among the deputies.
Hoping that the achieved results will be preserved and improved, I am free to point out the key international and domestic acts regulating the equal participation of women and men in all areas of public and private life.
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW, 1979), which the Republic of Serbia has ratified, among other things, stipulates the obligation of the state to take appropriate measures in all areas, especially political, social, economic and cultural, to ensure full development and progress of women, in order to guarantee them the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, equally with men. Article 7 of the Convention provides that Member States will take all necessary measures to eliminate discrimination against women in political and public life, and in particular will ensure that, under equal conditions, women vote in all elections and are elected to all bodies nominated through public elections, as well as to participate in the creation and implementation of government policy and to take on 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 structures and decision-making is regulated by the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action of 1995, which stated that the empowerment 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 among economic and political decision-making bodies at the local, state, regional and international levels maintains structural barriers and lack of 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 prescribes the prohibition of discrimination on any ground, including gender, and in Art. 15 prescribes that the State guarantees equality of women and men, and is developing a policy of equal opportunities. The Law on Gender Equality from 2009 in Art. 2 para. 1 prescribes 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 prescribes that the policy of equal opportunities implies equal participation of the genders at all stages of planning, adoption and implementation of decisions that affect the position of women and men. Furthermore, Art. 37 prescribes, inter alia, that gender equality is ensured in the run-up to elections for all functions and appointments to public authorities, financial and other institutions.
I would like to remind that the National Strategy for the Improvement of the Position of Women and the Promoting of Gender Equality (2009-2015) has established, as one of its strategic goals, the realization of women’s rights to participate equally with men in decision-making, and in order to achieve this goal envisaged implementation of measures to consistently implement the right to participation of the less represented gender in all structures of representative bodies (item 4.1.1), with at least 30% in the initial phase, and with 40% of participation, which falls within EU standards, until the end of the implementation of the strategy. Also, the Strategy states that in order to ensure equal and balanced influence of women in decision-making, which would better represent women’s special interests, it is not enough to have the appropriate number of women in representative bodies, but it is also necessary that they participate in the executive power (item 4.1.2).
Although the current legislation, regrettably, has not fixed the quota for the less represented gender in the highest executive body, I hope and expect that you will use all your competences and ensure that there is a sufficient number of women in the reconstructed government, in accordance with the principle of gender equality.
With sincere appreciation,
COMMISSIONER FOR THE PROTECTION OF EQUALITY
Dr. Nevena Petrušić