Public officials have limited knowledge about law on gender equality, shows survey

In a  survey on knowledge and application of the Law on gender Equality,  senior officials, managers and employees in 61 institutions were asked to list three documents governing gender equality and institutions that adopted them. Almost half were unable to name any act or document governing the realization of gender equality in Montenegro. The findings show that the majority of interviewees (73 percent) from institutions know that the government addressed the issue of gender equality in its normative activities. However, a significant number (46 percent) is not able to specify a single document in which the state regulates the issue of gender equality.

The study, which was conducted in the second half of last year, was carried out with a sample of 252 respondents from Parliament, Government, the Secretariat for legislation, administration, departments, boards, committees, the Chamber of Commerce, the Union of Employers, the Olympic Committee, the Radio and Television of Montenegro and parliamentary political parties. The results were presented by the Committee for Gender Equality of the Parliament of Montenegro, together with the OSCE Mission to Montenegro and the UNDP Montenegro.

The findings show that the majority of interviewees (73 percent) from institutions know that the government addressed the issue of gender equality in its normative activities. However, a significant number (46 percent) is not able to specify a single document in which the state regulates the issue of gender equality.

Almost half of respondents did not state any form of discrimination based on sex. When asked to indicate at least three answers to the question on what is considered sex discrimination in accordance with the Law on Gender Equality, 49 percent could not specify any. About 14 percent of them think that discrimination is any sex-based legal and factic distinction or a privilege, while 12.3 percent believe that it is about disproportionate representation of women in politics and public life.

The presentation of the survey about knowledge and application of the Law on Gender Equality was started by Ms. Nada Drobnjak, President of the Committee for Gender Equality, who emphasized the importance of this project for the overall country progress in terms of practical application of the law.

Ambassador Sarunas Adomavicius, Head of OSCE Mission in Montenegro congratulated to the Committee for Gender Equality on the research which, he said, was “the first of its kind in the Western Balkans region.” He stressed also that it represents an important contribution to achieving a higher level of gender equality and a basis for further strengthening of the Parliament’s supervisory role. “When it comes to gender equality in Montenegro, the study is of great importance. We need to remember just how much lobbying efforts should have been made only for adoption of the law. The adoption itself of this legislation is one part of the overall process. The research shows how much still needs to be invested in a full and proper application of the law and its good understanding, both within institutions at the national and local level, and at the general community level. We hope that this will play an important role in improving the existing situation,” expects Ambassador Adomavicius.

He explained that the research was conducted within the OSCE’s project for strengthening of the capacities of the Parliament, and with financial support from the Austrian Development Agency.

UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative to Montenegro Mr. Alexander Avanessov said that the right of women on equal treatment represents a fundamental human right. “Discrimination is recognized as politically unacceptable, economically threatening and legally prohibited. In that way, gender equality becomes one of the main elements in reform processes. The Constitution of Montenegro stipulates that the State assures the equality of women and men and develops the equal opportunity policy,” said Mr. Avanessov and added that this research serves as an “ultimate tool for monitoring application of the Act.” “UNDP will continue to support the strategic efforts of the Parliamentary Committee for Gender Equality,” concluded Mr. Avanessov.

The results of the survey were presented by prof. dr. Marijana Pajvančić, teacher at the Law Faculty in Novi Sad; Ms. Milka Puzigaća, director of SCAN Agency for Research and Development in Novi Sad and Petar Šturanović, associate at the Law Faculty in Podgorica.

The findings, beside the mentioned, show that of all documents in which the State regulated the issues of gender equality, the most recognizable is the Law on gender equality. But, many participants in the interview (49%) were not able to specify any action which the law considered discrimination (54% men and 45% women). Also, every third participant in the survey (33%) replied that they had information about unequal representation of women and men in their institution or in their field of competence. Most information about it have officials in the parliamentary political parties (93%), as well as the majority of those interviewed who are engaged in the most responsible jobs in the ministries.

In this sense, it was recommended that the control role of the Assembly of Montenegro and its working bodies should be encouraged and strengthened, and their activities should be focused not only on the work in the process of adopting laws and measures, but especially on continuous monitoring, inspection and control in the process of applying the adopted documents. Also, during the process of supervision and control over the application of laws and measures indicators should be established for monitoring the effects and consequences of normative solutions to the situation of women and men.

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Introduction of gender quotas in the Electoral Law as per best UN and EU standards

Political parties are obliged to nominate no less than one-third of women for electoral lists; this was agreed at the “Women in Politics” conference held a day after the presentation of the survey about knowledge and application of the Law on Gender Equality. The conference was attended by representatives of all parliamentary parties in Montenegro, experts from Montenegro and the region, representatives of UNDP, OSCE, as well as “Eduardo Frei” and “Konrad Adenauer” Foundations.

It was announced after the conference that “participants have jointly established norms in the draft text of the Law on the Election of delegates and members committing political parties to nominate no less than one-third candidates of less represented sex for electoral lists.”

The parliamentary discussion that should follow will be a great opportunity to confirm readiness of Montenegro to take further steps in building inclusive, gender sensitive society.

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