Gender equality out of the focus of the Prime Ministers

The comparative analysis of exposes of 42nd, 43rd and 44th Government of Montenegro, conducted by the Centre for Civic Education (CCE), indicates an extremely low level of the presence of gender equality issues. In terms of percentages, it is between 0.57% of the content in the case of Milojko Spajić’s expose, over 0.88% in the expose of Zdravko Krivokapić, and up to 1.86% of the content in the expose of Dritan Abazović. The practice of understanding the importance of gender policies is not encouraging, and there is also a significant decline in the representation of women at the highest level of executive power.

In Zdravko Krivokapić’s expose, within listing the priorities of the work principles of that Government, in general “equality of all, regardless of any affiliation or property, as well as advocacy for tolerance and respect for the rights and freedoms of others”, is mentioned without specifying gender. Similarly it is repeated in several segments. “In the area of basic rights and freedoms, violence in the family, on the gender basis and against children, remains a cause for great concern and urgent resolution of the problem should be initiated”, is specified at one point. Also, Krivokapić promised to advocate for “social inclusion of all citizens, so that everyone, regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender and sexual orientation, feels this country as their own, as we have no other”.

Krivokapić’s Government has, so far, the highest number of women at the ministerial level, accounting for 28.5% or four out of 14 members of the Government. However, other advancement in this area are not identified, and the EC Report for Montenegro for 2021 notes that “women continue to experience inequality in participation in political and public life, and accessing employment and economic opportunities”. In the EC Report for 2022, which partially refers to this Government, misogyny towards women is apostrophized, especially through “the increase in smear campaigns, hate speech and use of gender-based violence against women in politics and public life”.

“The issue of gender equality and gender equity is one of the priorities of the 43rd Government of Montenegro,” was stated in the expose of Dritan Abazović. In order to “contribute to the strengthening of all institutional mechanisms for gender equality”, the formation of the “Office for Gender Equality, within the Cabinet of the Prime Minister, as a coordinating body for monitoring the implementation of the goals of gender-responsible policies by state institutions” was foreseen. It was also promised “more funds for the employment of women, for active employment measures in order to reduce long-term unemployment and unemployment of young people, women and vulnerable categories of society”. It was also emphasized that the Government will be “dedicated to the fight against all forms of discrimination against persons with disabilities, members of the LGBTIQ community, women and children, minority peoples and minority communities, especially Roma and Egyptians.”

Abazović’s Government also had four female ministers or 19% of women as that Government was larger. The EC Report for 2022, which significantly refers to this Government as well, underlines that politics continue to be male-dominated and it is noticeable that verbal abuse of women in political life is growing, especially in the public sphere and particularly towards the younger politicians“. This is reinforced by the conclusion that systemic shortcomings remain, and patriarchal attitudes and insufficient party interest are still obstacles to a more active involvement of women in politics“. The EC Report for 2023 notes that “the trend of increase in the number of femicides with insufficient follow-up by the authorities and cases of publicly expressed misogyny, gender-based violence and violence against children remains an issue of serious concern“.

Milojko Spajić’s expose has the least mention of gender equality, and it is quite general. “Keeping in mind the fact that the most common victims of family and gender-based violence are: women, children, girls and women with disabilities, LGBT, Roma and Egyptian women, as well as women from rural areas, we will take all the necessary measures to provide all victims with access to specialized services “, is stated in that document. In addition, “additional education related to the fight against all forms of discrimination and violence” is promised.

Compared to the previous two Governments, Milojko Spajić’s Government has the fewest female ministers – only four among the 23 members of the Government, or 17.39%.

It is worth noting thta the analysis conducted within the framework of the project SPINoFACT 7 – Media monitoring of the parliamentary elections in Montenegro in 2023 with the focus on gender perspective, conducted by the CCE with the support of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany, pointed out that gender equality issues during the last election campaigns were below any minimum on all lists, which was also reflected in the expose of the newly elected Prime Minister of the 44th Government.

The review of these documents was conducted through the CCE’s programme, supported by the Core Grant regional project SMART Balkans – Civil Society for a Connected Western Balkans. This project is implemented by the Center for the Promotion of Civil Society (CPCD), the Center for Research and Public Policy (CRPM), and the Institute for Democracy and Mediation (IDM), with financial support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Norway. The content of the text is the sole responsibility of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of CPCD, CRPM, IDM, or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Norway.

Marlena Ivanović, Programme Assistant