The Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit of the Government of the Republic of Serbia has published the analysis “Status of Vulnerable Groups in the Process of Accession of the Republic of Serbia to the European Union – Status of Women and Gender Equality”.
The publication was prepared as part of an initiative for drafting an analytical review of the status of vulnerable groups in the context of EU accession started by SIPRU with the following objectives:
- To increase the visibility of the challenges faced by vulnerable social groups in the Republic of Serbia;
- To inform stakeholders on current processes in the development of the strategic and legislative framework in the field of social inclusion;
- To promote a dialogue and cooperation in meeting the obligations under the process of Serbia’s accession to the EU in the field of social inclusion.
The series of informative analytical situation overviews on the status of vulnerable groups in the context of meeting the obligations in the process of European integration is intended for a broad circle of stakeholders: decision makers, state administration and staff in local self-government units, development partners, civil society organisations, the academic community, and journalists.
The situation overview covers the following vulnerable groups: Roma, persons with disabilities, LGBTI, women, children, the elderly, youth, national minorities, migrants and asylum seekers, and persons living with HIV. The third analysis is related to the status of women and gender equality in the process of European integration.
The content of the analysis “Status of Vulnerable Groups in the Process of Accession of the Republic of Serbia to the European Union – Status of Women and Gender Equality” provides a broad analytical reflection on the status of the female population from the aspect of compliance with obligations under the process of the accession of the Republic of Serbia to the European Union (EU). First, it covers an overview of the situation regarding gender equality and the status of women in Serbia, in particular through the considerations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and the description of the latest published gender equality index calculated based on the methodology of the European Institute for Gender Equality with a brief overview of the gender index of Sustainable Development Goals as a tool harmonised with the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals. The next segment of the overview covers the socio-economic status of women in the Republic of Serbia with a focus on the labour market, education, healthcare and social welfare system, and analyses the incidence and prevalence of violence against women. Considerable attention was given to the topic of violence against women with comparative data regarding the competence of social work centres, the police, and prosecution. The next part of the study covers the legislative and strategic framework in the Republic of Serbia, currently in force or undergoing amendments. The overview of the situation and obligations under the process of European Union accession is an important part of the overview, and thereafter the final part of the analysis presents the main conclusions and recommendations for further improvements of the system regarding the topic of the status of women and gender equality.
The most important findings of the brief analysis note that women in Serbia have the same rights as men, however their status is worse, as indicated by studies during the recent decade, particularly regarding the discrimination of women based on sex and gender, both in the public, as well as the private sphere. Although the conclusions of the CEDAW committee note certain progress, there is still a number of recommendations for improving the status of women.
The latest Gender Equality Index for the Republic of Serbia is 58 (of 100), calculated based on data for 2018. There is progress compared to 2014 by 5.6 points, but Serbia is still lagging behind the EU average in all domains of the gender equality index. According to the Gender Index of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Serbia is at 34th place among 129 countries. Regarding labour market and employment, the women’s employment rate is still considerably below the men’s employment rate (42.1% compared to 56.6%). There are different factors for women’s inactivity, with some of the key for inactivity being care for children and adult incapacitated persons and other family reasons, where 7.7% of inactive women in 2020 listed these two reasons as the cause of their inactivity, compared to 1.6% of inactive men.
Another large gap in the data is found in regards to the pay difference between women and men, where in September 2020 the average gross earnings of women were 89.8% of the average gross earnings of men, amounting to RSD 77.826. On the other hand, regarding education and completion rate of primary school, girls register better results, while the drop-out rate of boys in primary education has doubled, amounting to 0.8% in 2019. The situation in higher education shows that women comprise 60.1% of graduate students, compared to 39.9% of men.
Regarding health and healthcare, women on average live 2.8 years longer compared to the average age of men, and also register a longer life expectancy. However, the personal perception of health is poorer among women than among men. Regarding violence against women in the Republic of Serbia, it is highly widespread, and around 62% of surveyed women in an OSCE analysis noted they have experienced violence during the 12 months preceding the survey. The total number of reports of violence has been continuously growing during the past ten years, and in the majority of cases the victims are women.
Regarding the legislative and strategic framework of the Republic of Serbia, there is a widespread implementation of the umbrella Law on Gender Equality adopted in 2021, with novelties introduced compared to existing laws in the domain of healthcare and health insurance, thereby making the first step in the valuation of unpaid work in the household. In addition to the above, other laws also regulate the status of women in various ways, along with the Gender Equality Strategy, recently adopted for the period 2021-2030.
Key recommendations on the status of women in the process of the European integration of the Republic of Serbia are regarding the status of women in the labour market and the need to hire them in better paid and managerial posts. Violence against women remains a burning issue and should be viewed in a more comprehensive manner, not just as domestic violence. The lack of an integrated system for collecting and monitoring cases of violence sorted by type of violence hampers the monitoring of data. The legislative framework has been considerably improved and harmonised with EU regulations, but practical implementation is required, and supplementation with relevant strategic documents without delay. The institutional mechanisms are insufficiently developed to carry out all provisions prescribed by the laws; thus, it is necessary to ensure everyone has access to information on discrimination and rights and obligations in regards to national anti-discrimination laws.