8 March – chance for action for the equality of women

On the occasion of 8 March, International Women’s Day, Centre for Civic Education (CCE) indicates that gender equality and full accomplishment of women’s rights in Montenegrin society are still far-fetched. In spite of the numerous legal solutions and institutions that established in line with European and international standards, status of women is still slowly changing, and they mainly remain out of the circle of political decision-makers, often exposed to violence, mobbing and various forms of discrimination on working posts, without the adequate protection and support.

Protests by group of women – mothers, who have been standing for days in front of the Parliament of Montenegro and fighting against the reduction of compensation – legally acquired for lifetime, which is yet another result of miscalculated and short-sighted political decision, best illustrate the position of women in Montenegrin society. Every aspect of story regarding the compensation for mothers with three or more children is a mirror image of misunderstanding of the role of women, their needs, rights and concept of gender equality.

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Law which introduces compensations for mothers with three or more children is discriminatory, financially encourages women to stay home, and reduces their role to giving birth and raising children, thus reproducing not only the population, but the patriarchal values and norms in the society, which further cements traditional division of roles between men and women. Such law should not have been adopted in the first place. Once again, the price of that irresponsible political decision is paid by women – mothers, many of whom are indubitably victims of transition, whereby the authorities are reducing the compensations to which they cling on as straws of salvation from harsh economic situation in which they live. Nowadays, women in Montenegro are one of the most vulnerable economic categories, insufficiently paid for their jobs, exploited on working posts and discriminated in the process of employment and numerous rights based on labour. The state has failed to provide systematic response for these issues.

Continuous manipulation of women and their rights, inspired by narrow interests and calculations of powerful men from both poles of political scene in a scramble for political points and votes – this is the gloomy picture of relationship toward women in Montenegro and lack of understanding and true interest of decision-makers to improve their position. Instead of the compensations, women, mothers and those who are not mothers, deserve equality and conditions to be employed, to work and contribute to personal and development of society, to be fairly paid in order to ensure decent living based on their work.

Representation of women in decision-making positions is at an extremely low level in Montenegro, and this issue is not on the list of priorities of male decision-makers. Without the participation of women in decision-making processes, there can be no greater progress in the area of respect of rights of women and change in economic and social inequality of genders which is in the root of gender violence. Prerequisite for all conditions is the decomposition of patriarchal and traditionalist constraints and inclusion of women in public sphere. Education system, which plays an important and basic role in this entire process, instead of emancipation, further strengthens gender and social differences by pulling the uniforms on children, by masking and abolishing the dialogue on the severity of differences, which are simultaneously the cause and the consequence of gender inequality, discrimination and violence against women.

Crime news pages are full of stories of domestic violence. In last two years, six women were murdered by their partners, with the tacit support of institutions and mild criminal policies which further encourage violence as an acceptable pattern of behaviour.

Do we have the reason to celebrate this year’s 8 March? We don’t, but we have the reason for action, for protest against underestimation, hypocrisy and superficiality in relation to rights of women. Endangered rights of women reduce the possibility of our society to achieve the ideals of our female predecessors, who have begun an arduous fight for equality and justice as manner of life on a distant 8 March, a fight which must not cease.

CCE team provided its support to protest March of Women on the occasion of marking 8 March – International Women’s Day, which was held today in Podgorica, in the organisation of NGO Anima and Women’s Rights Centre.

Petar Đukanović, Programme coordinator