Great expectations

In an interview for the website Libela, the Ombudswoman for Gender Equality Višnja Ljubičić commented on the record low number of women in Parliament in the last 10 years and on the quota system regulated by the Gender Equality Act:

In the last parliamentary elections once again no attention was paid to the legal provisions on the percentage of women (at least 40%) on electoral lists. The Gender Equality Act, passed in 2008, had given the parties three election cycles to adapt, which means that the punitive measures will ensue in the following local elections. Do you think this is a good solution and how would you comment on the fact that women occupy only 20% of parliamentary seats?

The practice of the EU is to provide a minimum of three election cycles in order to see the effect of introducing political quotas. A European research has shown that it takes 15 to 20 years for quotas to take hold. The expectations from this law were great and we thought that the proportion of women in Parliament would grow, not fall, as was the case after the last election. Some parties did include 30 or 40% of women on their lists, but they were ranked low, so it was apparent that they would not get into Parliament.

When misdemeanor provisions start being applied, I would not like to see parties rather pay fines than include women in higher positions, as some French parties do. The introduction of quotas is a good thing and I believe it will take hold, but we will not succeed if we are only going to repressively penalize parties. It is more important to work on raising awareness in society and providing equal opportunities for women to be active in both politics and business. And that is not possible as long as women have to work the double shift – at work and at home.