On June 1st, at the initiative and organization of the Ana and Vlade Divac Foundation, a meeting of the thematic expert group “Achieving Gender Equality and Empowering All Women and Girls” was held within the framework of the “SDGs for All” Platform.
The work of this thematic expert group is focused on the analysis and preparation of advocacy initiatives relevant to SDG 5 (Achieve Gender Equality and Empower All Women and Girls) through collaborative efforts of key stakeholders. The aim is to contribute to the following during 2023 and 2024:
- Integrating a gender dimension into the Action Plan for the implementation of the Employment Strategy 2024-2026.
- Monitoring the implementation of the Gender Equality Strategy with a specific focus on the area of women’s economic empowerment.
- Including a gender perspective in the work of socio-economic councils at the local and national levels.
- Contribution to the development of SME Strategy and Action plan through suggestions and comments.
In addition to representatives from partner organizations of the Ana and Vlade Divac Foundation, such as the Centre for Advanced Economic Studies and the Centre for Democracy Foundation, the meeting was attended by representatives from the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue, the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, the Union of Employers of Serbia and Vojvodina, representatives from the “Knowledge to Employment – E2E” project, representatives from specialized civil society organizations focusing on women’s economic empowerment, as well as experts in this field.
During the meeting, the following observations were presented:
- We have a solid knowledge base in this field, including relevant studies, research, and analyses that need to be widely accessible and utilized in the process of shaping initiatives and advocacy, as well as in the development of new strategic documents, policies, and measures in the areas of employment, women’s entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, business leadership, etc.
- The Law on Gender Equality and the Gender Equality Strategy for the period 2021-2030 provide clear frameworks and guide us towards measures and actions that need to be adopted and implemented in order to bridge the gender gap in the economy and permanently integrate a gender perspective in fields such as the labour market, entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, innovation, and fast-growing economic sectors.
- There has been a continuous increase in the number of women entrepreneurs and business owners, as well as positive progress in women’s entry into economic sectors and activities where they were previously under-represented. However, women entrepreneurs still predominantly own micro and small enterprises (low-profit, particularly vulnerable to crises), and despite the efforts of NGOs and employer organizations, they are still in an unequal position compared to other employed women (regulation of maternity leave and compensation, sick leave, etc.).
- Gender perspective is lacking in social dialogue and, generally, in the functioning of socio-economic councils (from the national to the local level), and it is necessary to address this issue in order to improve the work of these important tripartite bodies and ensure that women, as stakeholders, and issues relevant to women’s economic status find their appropriate place.
- Special attention should be given to vulnerable groups of women (single mothers, women with experience of violence, Roma women, women from refugee/displaced populations, etc.) in economic empowerment programs, in order to ensure that their exit from poverty and state of social need is sustainable rather than temporary.
- The “SDGs for All” Platform and the thematic expert group “Achieving Gender Equality and Empowering All Women and Girls” should facilitate information exchange, understanding of different roles and positions of stakeholders, and maintain continuous dialogue on all issues relevant to the improvement of women’s economic status in Serbia.