Women on the lists, women’s demands in the programs!

In Zagreb, on September 27, 2011, campaigns were held for the promotion of women’s participation in the elections, organized by the Center for Women’s Studies and CESI – Center for Education, Counseling and Research together with partner organizations B.a.B.e., Domine, Delfin and CGI. “Although these are two campaigns – one that promotes a higher representation of women on electoral lists, and the other that deals with the gender policy issues represented by political parties, both have the same goal – to increase the participation of women in decision-making,” said Jasminka Pešut from the Center for Women’s Studies at the beginning of the press conference.

Creating a public space for the expression of women’s needs and interests, and all with the aim of including a gender perspective and the real needs of women into party pre-election programs and public policies, is the primary goal of the project What do women want? Women’s voices in the parliamentary elections in 2011. Therefore CESI and its partner organizations together formed Women’s Platform 2011. “Women’s Platform 2011 was created as a result of conversations with women all over Croatia, in 10 counties and 10 cities, and we also highly valued women belonging to minority groups – such as national minority members and women with disabilities, whose position in society is especially difficult,” said Mirjana Kučer from Domine. Even though many of the demands outlined in the Platform are already stated in various other strategies and acts, women in Croatia are warning that these strategies are not being implemented or that they cannot exercise their rights. “We ask that women’s rights be more than a dead letter on a piece of paper and that the future Parliament and Government actually realize what they vote on,” stressed Tatjana Broz from CESI and stated that meetings have been requested with heads of all parties represented in Parliament in order to present them with women’s demands in their entirety.

The proportion of women in parliament has stagnated at 20% in the last 10 years, while at the same time research shows that both men and women think there ought to be more women in politics so as to improve its quality. “Guided by the results of our research, we have concluded that the problem does not lie in the citizens, but elsewhere. To be precise, in the political party heads who create electoral lists,” stated Zorica Siročić from the Center for Women’s Studies while presenting the Center’s campaign which is being carried out in the framework of the project Ad Acte – Stop Gender Discrimination on Electoral Lists. Thus the Center for Women’s Studies decided to make posters and place them in the vicinity of political parties’ headquarters, and to repeatedly send them memos to remind them about their legal, but also democratic, obligation to nominate 40% of women. Although sanctions for disregarding quotas will not yet be applied in these elections, all participants agreed that it’s “sad that we need penalties to force parties to fulfill the quota of 40% of women on electoral lists.”