Tuesday, October 22, 2019

azc s The Autonomous Women’s Center has prepared its comments on the initial version of the National Social Protection Strategy for the period 2019-2025, and submitted them to the Republic Institute for Social Protection.

Besides a list of concrete comments, including those that commend new measures of support for specific beneficiary groups, several inconsistencies were identified between the Draft Law on Social Protection (in the process of public discussion in August 2018) and the Draft Strategy.

Firstly, it was pointed out that the vision of the new Strategy expresses a social-democratic orientation of a welfare state, which is not the political, economic and social orientation of Serbia. Also, some of the envisaged measures are not in accordance with the document’s vision. It was highlighted that data in the description of the current situation are not disaggregated by gender, which will directly affect measures and the monitoring of the effects of their implementation. Moreover, the conclusion that in poverty and social exclusion “gender differences are not present” cannot be correct, bearing in mind the majority of women in a great number of categories that are most affected by poverty. 

Comments also referred to the proposed measures for the harmonization of work and parenthood, particularly that the current Law on the Financial Support to Families with Children contains a series of unfavorable and discriminatory provisions, which is why several initiatives have been started to assess its constitutionality. It was indicated that the flexible use of maternity/parental leave can have long-term negative consequences for women, and it cannot be a measure to “decrease the insufficient capacities of crèches”, because the state, in accordance with the Strategy vision, is obliged to ensure public support to parenthood. At the same time, the strategic area concerning unpaid care and work in the household was left without measures, which are planned to be developed in the Action Plan, though they represent a delicate gender issue. Measures for survivors of domestic violence and other forms of gender-based violence have not been included, even though they will be developed in a separate strategy.

The representative of the Autonomous Women’s Center, Tanja Ignjatovic, stressed how hypocritical the measure concerning support to non-governmental service providers sounds to specialized women’s organizations, after all that minster Djordjevic did with the national SOS helpline, when the service provision, which has been provided by women’s organization for 29 years, was assigned to operators who completed a two-day training.

It was also pointed out that conclusions concerning indicators of effects are not sufficiently specific, especially that the conclusion that measures contribute to “promotion of gender equality” or introduction of affirmative action, is not justified. In this sense, it was pointed out that the Strategy should consider the latest concluding observations of the UN Committee for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Finally, it was highlighted that it is impossible to implement planned measures without budgetary funds, as is said in the draft, and is difficult to imagine that the responsible ministry will manage to monitor the implementation and report on its effects, bearing in mind the practice to date.