Ten women MPs and 242 representatives of the academia calling for obligatory gender quotas in the new election law

All ten women members of the Parliament of Montenegro, together with 242 representatives of the three Montenegrin universities, publicly addressed the Speaker of the Parliament, members of the Committee for drafting the new election law, as well as the presidents of the Parliamentary Clubs, requesting the introduction of mandatory quotas for women (prescribing at least 30% of women representatives on electoral lists). With the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Delegation of the European Union in Montenegro, they are jointly advocating for the legislation improvement through introduction of gender-sensitive norms in the new election law.

In their address they emphasized the reasons for such an appeal:

  1. Because gender equality is one of the basic democratic values and a fundamental human right –Dragica Anđelić, Mediterranean University
  2. Democracy has a real importance, meaning and a long-term effect only if decisions are made on equal basis, with participation of all female and male citizens – Olivera Komar, University of Montenegro
  3. Women represent half of the population and their representation in politics provides legitimacy to political processes – Valentina Radulović Šćepanović, Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS)
  4. Women are changing politics. They are making it more responsible, more humane, more related to every-day life – Snežana Jonica, Socialist People’s Party (SNP)
  5. We want to make decisions and create policies according to the needs of all female and male citizens – Ljerka Dragićević, Croatian Civic Initiative (HGI)
  6. To have political power for us means to have an opportunity to change things in Montenegro for the better – Hidajeta Bajramspahić, Socialist Democratic Party (SDP)
  7. Pension policies, security issues, elimination of violence in family, tax policies and health care – all of it will look differently when women will gain the power to make decisions – Nataša Vuković, SNP
  8. Educated, resolute, sensible and dedicated – we, women, will ensure that Montenegro has high-quality and well-thought politics that secures good life – Branka Bošnjak, Movement for Changes (PZP)
  9. We, women politicians will create better conditions for further development of women’s capacities for politics – Maida Bešlić, DPS
  10. We will strive to create conditions to make it easier for women to start-up and run their own businesses – Snežana Jonica, SNP on behalf of her colleague Veselinka Peković, SNP
  11. We will support programmes that enable parents to achieve a better balance between their obligations at work and in the family – Nada Drobnjak, DPS on behalf of her colleague Branka Tanasijević, DPS
  12. We will not give up the values that we bring with us into politics, and we will stay consistent to our goals – Hatidža Đoni, Democratic Union of Albanians (DUA) 

As a UN member and an EU candidate country, Montenegro is obliged to introduce principles, standards and best UN and EU practices. Among other obligations, Montenegro should establish a systemic and sustainable model that will guarantee the full and integral participation of women in political life. Bearing in mind that Montenegro is currently in the process of adopting new election legislation, women parliamentarians agreed to launch the initiative on introduction of obligatory norms in the new legislation regulating participation of women in politics. In the meantime, their initiative has been strongly supported by many representatives of the intellectual elite.

Representatives from every Montenegrin university have signed the following petition:

Dear Speaker of the Parliament, dear Parliamentarians,

We, representatives of the academic community of Montenegro,

Having in mind ratified international conventions on women’s rights,

Being committed to best practices, politics and standards of UN and EU,

Pinpointing Constitutional principle of gender equality,
We consider necessary that the new election law contain an effective system for representation of the less represented sex. Starting from standards and practice of developed democratic countries, we consider that the effective system of quota for women should have the following elements:

–           The sequence of candidates at the election lists of political parties and coalitions should be structured in the following way: at least one in three persons on the list should be from the less represented sex.
–           Closed lists with the sequence of candidates cannot be changed after elections.
–           State Electoral Commission can approve election lists only if they are made in accordance with the principle from point 1;
–           In case of changing one MP with another, during the same mandate, sex balance in the Parliament should be maintained, based on an adequate system;

We think that the introduction of quotas for the less represented sex into the new election law should be harmonized with Articles 8 and 18 of the Constitution of Montenegro that guarantee protection from discrimination and respect for the principle of gender equality. The law should also be harmonized with a number of international documents demanding reduction of the democracy deficit in legislative and other institutions through introduction of effective measures regulating participation of the less represented sex in politics.

The Parliament of Montenegro, as a key institution in our parliamentary democracy, should promote the highest standards of equality for all citizens and should be a model of conduct for all other institutions. Having this in mind, the signatories of this initiative are asking you to introduce quotas for the less represented sex into election law. For the list of signatories please click here.