Panel discussion titled “Economic empowerment of women in the light of sustainable development – integrating a gender perspective into local economic development planning” was organised by Ana and Vlade Divac Foundation on 10 October 2023 in Novi Sad. The aim of this event was to establish cooperation between municipalities for better planning of measures that will contribute to equal inclusion of men and women in the labor market and equal opportunities.

In the introduction, the participants were addressed by Milorad Radojević, Member of the Economic Council of the City of Novi Sad, Branko Ćurčić, Vice president of the Provincial Government and President of the Council for Coordination and Monitoring of Activities in the Field of Economic Development, and Nenad Ivanišević, Provincial Secretary for Economy and Tourism.

Branko Ćurčić pointed out that female entrepreneurship occupies an important place in the work of the Council and underlined that the fight for gender equality has been going on since the time of Milica Tomić, who was the editor of the magazine “The Woman” in Novi Sad in 1911. The importance of this gathering, according to Nenad Ivanišević, is that it is focused on achieving gender equality as well as equality in general.

Within the framework of the meeting, two panels were held, the first entitled Priorities of economic development and gender equality, in which Biljana Stojković from the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue, Nataša Vučković from the Center for Democracy, Maja Sokić Heger from the Vojvodina Development Agency participated, together with Miljana Stojšić Stojanovska from the Union of Employers of Vojvodina and Goran Radisavljević from the Timok Youth Center. Miljana Stojšić Stojanovska stated that female entrepreneurs are more active, more empathetic, less inclined to approach problems aggressively, have a broad view, are more sensitive to differences and have all the qualities needed today for faster and better development of entrepreneurship.

The second panel, titled From strategic documents at the local level to end users, was led by Marija Srdić, who presented the results of a survey conducted in local communities participating in the project. Saša Bilinović from the City Administration for the Economy of Novi Sad, Marija Jerković from the Local Self-Government of the City of Sombor and Milanka Furtula, president of “the Big heart” Association from Lazarevo, exchanged experiences and examples of good practices in support of women’s entrepreneurial initiatives and support for gender equality.

Finally, it was pointed out that according to the latest Gender Equality Index, Serbia shows poor progress despite the legal and strategic framework and that it is important to continue monitoring the implementation of the Gender Equality Law, and work on harmonizing other planning documents with gender equality plans. It is important to increase the efficiency of regional institutions like local economic councils. When it comes to inter-municipal cooperation, it is necessary to strengthen both this segment and inter-municipal service planning.

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