President of the Parliament of Montenegro Mr Ivan Brajović opened today the 12th session of the Women’s Parliament, which addressed the implementation of the Law on Gender Equality 13 years after its adoption. President Brajović emphasised that normatively a lot has been done since the restoration of independence. ″All of us have been maturing as a society and changed the legislative framework in line with the changing reality in Montenegro. Today, we understand how important it is, in addition to adopting good laws, to analyse and implement them, to improve them if we find that they are not effective enough. An example of such improvement is the Law on the Election of Councillors and MPs, which has been amended several times in a decade, and thanks to this, we have almost 30% of women in the Parliament today. Over the past year, we had the opportunity to increase the legal minimum to 40% by including the requirements of the Women’s Political Network into the new proposal for the law. Unfortunately, the lack of two-thirds majority for the adoption of this Law, due to political calculations, also affect women's political participation. Such examples also clearly show the priorities of some political actors and their understanding of this socially and politically important goal”, the President of the Parliament emphasised and said that this should certainly not prevent us from showing in practice that we provide equal opportunities in politics for men and women. President Brajović also spoke about the Gender Equality Index, which was recently calculated in Montenegro for the first time by UNDP in cooperation with the Statistical Office.
Chairperson of the Gender Equality Committee of the Parliament of Montenegro, Ms Nada Drobnjak, said that the topic of today's Women's Parliament was precisely the implementation of the Law on Gender Equality and the changes happening in the field of gender equality in Montenegro. ″The essence of 8 March is the memory of all those women who lived before us, who fought, and exercised many of the rights that we experience today″, Ms Drobnjak said, adding: ″We are standing on their shoulders today, and we must leave a good mark for future generations as well." Chairperson of the Gender Equality Committee, Ms Drobnjak said that gender equality was equally important both for women and men, and that a society in which women and men experience the same level of human rights was a democratic society, which means, by economic parameters, a society with a larger gross domestic product. ″This year of 2020 is important because it sees sectional view and implementation of the Beijing Platform and the Platform for Action for documents adopted at the Fourth World Conference in 1995, when twelve areas were identified that needed extra work and still need to be addressed, in order for women and men to experience the same level of human rights″, Ms Drobnjak said, adding that this is the reason why today's session has made a cross-section of the situation in Montenegro. ″We can state that there is progress, and that there is much more that needs to be done together by men and women in order to have a society in Montenegro where gender equality is truly fundamental," Ms Drobnjak pointed out. When it comes to the Gender Equality Index of the Statistical Office (MONSTAT), which was first calculated for Montenegro at the initiative of the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights, it shows that we are halfway to what Montenegro aspires to, Ms Drobnjak concluded.
President of the Supreme Court, Ms Vesna Medenica, said that according to the Gender Equality Index for Montenegro, the biggest differences in gender equality observed between EU Member States and Montenegro relate to money and power, and that the obligation of us all is the fight for protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. ″Improving the position and protection of the rights of victims of all forms of gender-based violence is an objective the fulfilment of which must be guaranteed by the Montenegrin judiciary. It is of the utmost importance to provide free legal assistance to women and girls in court proceedings, and especially in criminal proceedings for crimes of trafficking in human beings, domestic violence and sexual violence, as well as for all women in divorce proceedings". Ms Medenica reminded of the fact that the judiciary was the only branch of government dominated by women, both in the decision-making structure and in the administration. "I hope that our representative example will encourage all actors in our society, and especially those of the sector of economy, to enable higher participation of women primarily and fair working conditions, which is a kind of challenge in the race for profit," Ms Medenica concluded.
President of the Constitutional Court, Ms Desanka Lopičić, said that the Gender Equality Index was a key element in assessing whether the promises made have truly been honoured. ″Our contribution to gender equality is a contribution to addressing the issue, for all generations to come, because gender equality is not only a basic human right, but it is also the basis for further development of our Montenegrin society″, Ms Lopičić pointed out.
The Deputy Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms of Montenegro, Ms Snežana Mijušković said that ″Montenegro's national legislation is substantially in line with the documents adopted under the systems of UN, EU and CoE governing gender equality and encouraging the implementation of the principle of equal treatment for women and men. It is an indisputable fact that in the Montenegrin society, there was a greater level of awareness on gender equality since the adoption of the Law on Gender Equality″, Ms Mijušković said.
Director of the Statistical Office of Montenegro, Ms Gordana Radojević, said that ″Montenegro recognised the importance of gender statistics back in 2006 when ‘Women and Men in Montenegro’ had been published for the first time, which has since been published regularly on a two-year basis by MOSTAT in cooperation with the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights. ″The Gender Equality Index of January 2020 is an instrument that measures gender equality in all EU Member States across six domains: work, money, knowledge, time, power and health. The index value is displayed on a scale from 1 to 100, and the Monstat Gender Equality Index for Montenegro is 55, indicating that we are halfway to achieving complete equality in Montenegro″, Ms Radojević said and added that no EU Member State has complete equality, which indicates that Montenegro has made significant progress in terms of gender equality policy compared to the EU, but that there are many more challenges ahead.
At today's session, organised by the Gender Equality Committee of the Parliament of Montenegro, ministers and representatives of ministries in the Government of Montenegro also spoke, as well as representatives of Women's groups of parties represented in the Parliament, representatives of NGOs and academia.
In addition to the implementation of the Law on Gender Equality and the Gender Equality Index, the work of the Gender Equality Committee within the Human Rights and Gender Equality Network of Committees in the Western Balkan (HUGEN) was presented today by an expert from the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) from Belgrade.
Speech of the President of the Parliament of Montenegro, Mr Ivan Brajović