– having regard to Articles 6 and 49 of the Treaty on European Union,
– having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,
– having regard to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1979,
– having regard to the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace, and security,
– having regard to the work of the Vienna Conference on Human Rights (1993), which affirmed human rights and condemned the violation of these rights in the name of culture or tradition,
– having regard to the Brussels Declaration on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Human Beings adopted on 20 September 2002,
– having regard to the Commission 2007 Progress Reports on the Candidate and Potential Candidate countries,
– having regard to the Commission communication of 25 October 2007 entitled: Towards an EU response to situations of fragility – engaging in difficult environments for sustainable development, stability and peace (COM(2007)0643),
– having regard to the Commission communication of 5 March 2008 entitled: Western Balkans: Enhancing the European perspective (COM(2008)0127),
– having regard to the activities and the progress report of the Gender Task Force operational under the Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe (2004),
– having regard to the study: Women's Situation in the Balkan Countries: comparative perspective, undertaken by Ms Marina Blagojević on behalf of the European Parliament (Belgrade, February 2003),
– having regard to its resolution of 22 April 2004 on Women in South-East Europe(1),
– having regard to its resolution of 6 July 2005 on the role of women in Turkey in social, economic and political life(2) and its resolution of 13 February 2007 on women’s role in social, economic and political life in Turkey(3),
–having regard to its resolution of 1 June 2006 on the situation of Roma women in the European Union(4),
– having regard to the conclusions of the international conference: Women in conflict resolution, held in Ljubljana, June 21-22, 2008 in the Institutum Studiorum Humanitatis - Ljubljana Graduate School in Humanities,
– having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,
– having regard to the report of the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (A6-0435/2008),
1. Considers that the continuation of political and economic stabilisation and the creation of democratic institutions in the countries of the Balkans requires the active participation of women (given that they comprise just over half of the population);
2. Notes with anxiety that gender equality laws and practices (institutional, financial, human) are not fully guaranteed although there is a difference between countries which have started accession negotiations and those which have not;
3. Stresses the importance of women’s equal rights and equal participation in the labour market, which are indispensable for women’s economic independence, for national economic growthand for the fight against poverty, to which women are more vulnerable than men;
4. Notes that women were disproportionately affected by cuts in social services and public spending such as health care, child and family care; points out that these non-wage benefits and services which were previously provided enabled women to participate in paid employment and consequently to reconcile work and family life;
5. Notes with concern that women, while generally under-represented in the labour market, are over-represented in some (traditionally "female") jobs where their situation, especially in rural areas, is more precarious; in that respect, calls for special measures to avoid the feminisation of “lower paid” sectors; is also concerned that the "gender pay gap" phenomenon exists, and that women have difficulties in setting up their own businesses;
6. Invites the governments of the countries in the Balkans to establish a legal framework for equal pay for both sexes, to assist women in the reconciliation of private and professional life and to provide good quality, accessible and affordable childcare facilities and care facilities for the elderly to that effect, and in addition to remove obstacles which inhibit female entrepreneurship;
7. Underlines the importance of education in eliminating stereotypes relating to the social roles of both women and men and cultural stereotypes and the fact that the education system itself should not promote stereotypical patterns, including in career choices;
8. Draws attention to the generally insufficient healthcare infrastructure, especially in rural areas, and calls on governments to ensure regular screening of cervical and breast cancer for women, and of HIV/AIDS, to which women are more vulnerable than men; stresses the importance of psychological and medical rehabilitation of female war victims;
9. Considers that women in the Balkans, who have been victims of war, should no longer be seen only as war victims but rather as actors of stabilisation and conflict resolution; stresses that women in the Balkans in general can only fulfil this role once equally represented in political and economic decision-making; welcomes quotas and calls on the countries which have not done so already, to promote female representation and, where necessary, to apply quotas effectively in political parties and national assemblies, and encourages the countries which have already done so to continue this process in order to ensure that women can participate in political life and overcome their under-representation, with a view to removing the "glass ceiling" once and for all and to implement positive action to ensure that women and men learn about and engage with citizenship from an early age;
10. Notes with concern that, despite the legislative framework recently put in place in most of the Balkan countries, domestic violence and verbal abuse remain present; therefore invites the countries concerned to take measures to create shelters for victims and to ensure that law enforcement institutions, legal authorities and public servants are more sensitive to this phenomenon;
11. Stresses that domestic violence is even more widespread than existing data show and that relevant statistics and data are fragmented, poorly collected and not standardised, even in the countries that have adopted specific legislation in this field;
12. Underlines the importance of awareness-raising campaigns in the fight against stereotypes, discrimination (gender-based, cultural, religion-based) and domestic violence, and for gender equality in general; notes that these campaigns should be complemented by the promotion of a positive picture through female role models in the media and advertising, educational materials and the internet;
13. Welcomes the recent evolution of the legislative and institutional framework which reflects a strong commitment to ensuring equal opportunities for women and men in the countries concerned; at the same time reiterates that strong measures are needed so that these provisions can be fully implemented in practice;
14. Calls on Balkan governments to take action to pave the way for implementation of an integrated approach to gender equality at all levels and in all areas of social and political life;
15. Calls on all Member States which have not yet done so to accept National Plans for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) and to implement them when dealing with the Balkan countries;
16. Notes with anxiety that the countries of the Balkans are transit countries in the process of trafficking in human beings and that generally women and children are the victims of the trafficking; stresses that gender equality, awareness-raising campaigns, measures against corruption and organised crime are essential in order to prevent negative phenomena in the Balkan countries such as prostitution and trafficking and to protect potential victims;
17. Calls on the Balkan countries to take urgent action to prevent prostitution, and more specifically child prostitution and pornography, to strengthen penalties for coercion into, or incitement to, prostitution and/or participation in the creation of pornographic materials, and to criminalise child pornography on the internet;
18. Stresses the importance of NGOs and women's organisations in identifying women's problems and in finding adequate solutions, particularly the Gender Task Force under the Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe, in developing the democratic processes and stability in the region; encourages the work of these NGOs and suggests the sharing of best practice in the field of gender equality among the countries concerned, as well as with European NGO networks;
19. Calls on the Commission to provide pre-accession funds for strengthening women's rights in the Balkans, in particular through women's NGOs and women's organisations;
20. Calls on the Commission closely to monitor and to press for the fulfilment of the Copenhagen Criteria, in particular in relation to equal opportunities for women and men and women's rights in the candidate and potential candidate countries; invites the candidate and potential candidate countries of the Balkans to harmonise their anti-discrimination and gender equality legislation with the acquis communautaire in view of possible future accession;
21. Calls on the Commission to ensure that its policy laid down in the above mentioned Commission communication of 5 March 2008, which is directed at strengthening NGOs in the Western Balkans, should be particularly focussed on the empowerment of women's participation in civil society;
22. Stresses that Roma womensuffer from multiple discrimination (racial, ethnic, gender), and are more vulnerable to poverty and social exclusion; therefore a differentiated approach is needed to tackle these problems; Roma women in particular encounter prejudice in many countries and are affected by lack of citizenship, have limited access to quality education, face inadequate living conditions, are unable to access healthcare services and encounter high unemployment and low levels of political and public participation in society;
23. Notes with concern the lack of up-to-date statistical information and indicators which would assist in the assessment of the situation of women in the Balkans;
24. Calls on the candidate and potential candidate countries in the Balkans to guarantee the elimination of all forms of discrimination and prejudice against women who suffer from multiple discrimination, especially the Roma; calls on the Balkan countries to introduce an effective and practical antidiscrimination strategy to be implemented at all levels (national and local);
25. Calls on the European Institute for Gender Equality also to monitor gender equality in the countries of the Balkans with special attention on candidate countries;
26. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission, the governments and the Parliaments of the Member States and the candidate and potential candidate countries concerned.
The aim of the report is to evaluate gender issues and the situation of women living in Balkans Geographically the report is focused on Candidate countries (Croatia and Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia(1)) and Potential Candidate countries: (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo under UNSCR 1244).
These countries went through some dramatic changes in the last two decades. The report does not deal with the past events but concentrates on present problems related to women's situation; however, today's situation should be examined in the light of history. It is marked by wars, ethnic conflicts, political and economic transformation, construction of new countries (even most recently), migration, etc.
The process of democratic stabilization is on its way but there is still a lot of work to be done. To this end, women's participation is necessary. Women can play a leading role in the democratisation and stabilisation process of the region only if equal chances and equal opportunities are granted to them. Unfortunately, this seems not to be the case in the abovementioned countries for the moment.
It is very difficult to evaluate gender equality in these countries as reliable and up-to-date data is not accessible. There are, of course, some exceptions to the rule(2), but in most of the cases, the data available is out of date. The report covers the following areas of concern that appear to be most problematic as regards to women's rights and gender equality issues.
Women in the labour market
Women's economic independence is a key factor in gender equality. Women should have equal access to labour market and quality jobs. In all said countries more women than men face the problem of unemployment than men. It does not mean that women don't work,— on the contrary, they are forced to work on the "informal" labour market and to carry out undeclared work; including household tasks, taking care of elderly people and children.
Moreover, even formally employed women are more vulnerable to poor working conditions and to unemployment. This is due to the fact that they are mostly concentrated in sectors that are traditionally "female", and these jobs are less paid and less secure. In addition, the phenomenon of "gender pay gap" exists in all parts of the labour market, which means that women earn less for the same work than their male colleagues. (The pay gap varies between countries from 9% in Slovenia – one of the best results even in the EU – to much more in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia, but the data are difficult to compare or hardly available.)
Governments should ensure that existing anti-discrimination and/or gender equality legislation guarantees equal opportunities for both women and men regarding access to the labour market. The legislative framework alone is not sufficient, laws should be properly implemented and fully respected. The rapporteur welcomes the adoption of gender equality, anti-violence and anti-discrimination laws(3) in many countries of the region during the last five years as a major positive development.
Another important aspect to be taken into consideration as regards women in the labour market is the reconciliation of private and professional life. Men and women have to share childcare tasks, and men should be encouraged to do so. Furthermore, there is a great need for good quality, accessible and affordable childcare facilities. The availability of such institutions differs from one country to another. In general, the situation is worse in rural areas, where the limited availability of social services (including childcare) put bigger burden on women's shoulders. Reaching for the Barcelona targets(4) – which is a basis for good indicators – is desirable but major commitment is necessary in this direction.
Fight against stereotypes
Apart from the legislative barriers, stereotypes and a negative image of women make it impossible for women to benefit from equal opportunities. This image is deeply rooted in society and sometimes reinforced by cultural differences, ethnic and/or racial discrimination. In most of these countries, people encounter this attitude at school (educational materials), in media (television, books, newspapers, radio) and on the internet.
Awareness-raising campaigns are needed in order to re-shape public opinion. This should start from an early age, — educational materials in school should promote a more positive image of women: working, being independent and equal to men. This is particularly important in the process of eradicating stereotypes in career patterns and feminisation of certain jobs.
The same path should be followed in media and on the internet. A positive example is set by FYROM, where immediately after the adoption of the current National Information Society Strategy, a study was carried out to obtain information and to raise awareness on the gender dimension of Information and Communication Technologies. The Analysis was ordered and financed by the Akcija Zdruzenska, a women's NGO from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia(5). At the educational level, a great example was set by Albania, where the University of Tirana offers a master's programme on gender and development (from 2006)(6).
In most Balkan countries reviewed in this report, the transition of the political and economic system deteriorated the public preventive health system and the services provided. In many cases that was due to inadequate privatization.
There are diseases to which women are particularly vulnerable (cervical cancer, breast cancer). Regular screening for these diseases is needed. In some countries (for example in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) this has been acknowledged. Still there is no adequate public funding for such programs (a positive example can be Croatia where free vaccination for cervical cancer is available). There should be more information provided about sexually transmittable diseases. Special attention should be paid to psychological and physical rehabilitation of women victims of sexual violence and women abused during war or ethnic conflicts.
Women in decision-making
Women should no longer only be seen as victims of wars and conflicts but they can and should be actors of peace and stabilisation. In order to contribute to this process, they have to be in decision-making positions both political in and economic spheres. More specific aim at the political level should be women's equal participation and representation in political parties, in national assemblies and governments. This should be achieved through quotas.
In the private sector application of quotas may not be a viable solution. However, there should be more women in leading positions; they should not be limited to manager positions. Governments have to assure the correct implementation of existing legislation, and they should condemn the phenomenon of the "glass ceiling". In no way should women be excluded from responsible, economic decision-making positions .Women should have the opportunity to represent women's interests at a higher level, — experience shows that women top managers are more comprehensive about women's problems and are more willing to propose flexible working conditions that would help women in balancing professional and family life.
Violence against women
There should be zero tolerance towards violence against women and domestic violence, and that should not be limited to solely legislative actions. Laws should be properly implemented, awareness-raising campaigns should be organised and training for civil servants and police agents to deal adequately with violence against women and domestic violence should be provided. The creation of shelter houses for victims is another necessary element.
An outstanding example of this is the CESI’s National Campaign for Prevention of Gender-Based Violence. The CESI Education, Counselling and Research Centre, in partnership with the Open Media Group (OMG), started in 2007 the implementation of the National Campaign for Prevention of Gender-Based Violence. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the youth about this problem and prevent gender-based violence. The campaign includes research of gender-based violence in adolescent population; a media campaign; education seminars for secondary school teachers; public debates; presentations of works created by young people, advocacy and public policy activities.(7)
Trafficking in human beings
Trafficking in human beings, especially women and children, is a global phenomenon. The fight against it should concentrate on the one hand, on the organised crime and, on the other hand, on the elimination of the main causes of trafficking. This includes the assurance of women's rights and their economic independence. Women without a job, without stable income, become easily victims of trafficking (for forced prostitution, forced labour or forced removal of organs), this is why women's equal access and full integration in the labour market is of utmost importance.
In order for the situation of women in Balkans to be improved and for solutions to be found, the intervention of the European Union is essential. Further cooperation and the exchange of best practices among local women's organisations and international NGOs, could also contribute to the improvement of the situation. In the conclusions of the international conference: Women in conflict resolution, held in Ljubljana, June 21-22, 2008 in the Institutum Studiorum Humanitatis - Ljubljana Graduate School in Humanities: "The best results of the implementation of the Resolution 1325 seem to be in Kosovo, where international agencies and national women's movement worked hand in hand in a sandwich like strategy and succeeded to enact strong quota regulations for national and local elections, to train and to make police and army more sensitive to women human rights and needs in the post conflict situation. "
It goes without saying that the possibility of a future accession in the EU is a great motivation for both Candidate and Potential Candidate Countries in order to develop policies. Therefore human rights and women's rights are critical criteria that should be met in all of these countries. There should be close monitoring during the negotiation process, and tangible results should be achieved before accession.
Gender equality law
Gender quota in national assembly1
Gender equality body
yes, comprehensive Gender Equality Law in July 20085
yes, no list can have more than 70% candidates of the same sex (currently 7,2% women)
Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities
Institute for Gender Studies, Tirana University4
National Strategy on Gender Equality and Domestic Violence 2007-20103
Bosnia and Herzegovina
yes, Law on Gender Equality in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in 20036
yes, 1 candidate of the under-represented sex to be included in the first 2 candidates on lists, 2 amongst the first 5 candidates, 3 amongst the first 8 candidates. At least 1/3 of the under-represented sex should be included on party lists (currently 13,3% women)
Parliamentary Assembly - Commission for Gender Equality, Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees of Bosnia and Herzegovina - Gender Equality Agency, Gender Centre of Federation BiH7
Masters' Program in Gender Studies (2008-2010), University of Sarajevo8
Bosnia and Herzegovina Gender Action Plan9
yes, Gender Equality Act, in 2008 and Antidiscrimination Act (2008)10
No (currently 20,9% women)
Gender Equality Committee of the Parliament; Ombudswomen for Gender Equality; Office for Gender Equality of the Government
Centre for Women's Studies11
third National Policy for the Promotion of Gender Equality 2006-2008; • National Programme for the Preventing of Trafficking in Human beings 2005-2008 12
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia13
yes, Law on Equal Opportunities of Women and Men in 2006
yes, 30% and achieved (currently 32% women)
Commitee on Gender Equality in national assembly
Gender studies program at the State Univserity: Sts. Cyril and Methodius University Skopje, Social sciences, Faculty of philosophy, started in 2007
National strategy for protection from domestic violence 2008-2011, adopted in April 2008
Kosovo under UNSCR 12442
yes, Law on Gender Equality in 2004
Kosova office on gender equality, national level at the Prime Minister's office
The creation of a structure (institute/center) for gender studies is foreseen in the program for gender equality
Kosovo program for gender equality 2008-2013, prepared by the Office of the Prime Minister
Republic of Moldova15
yes, Law on Ensuring Equal Opportunities for Women and Men in 200614
No (currently 20,8% women)
Ministry of Labour, Social Protection and Family, Directorate for eual opportunities and violence prevention
Centre for Community Sociology and Gender Studies (CSCSG)
Female Prime Minister,National Action Plan to promote gender equality
yes, Law on Gender Equality in 200716
n.a. (currently 11,1 % women)
Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Welfare and Gender Equality Office in Montenegro19
ANIMA - Center for Peace and Women Studies, Monenegro18
National Strategy on Gender Equality; Gender Equality Project Montenegro (2007-2009)20
no exact Law adopted yet, except from the Declaration and Decision on Gender Equality of the Assembly of AP Vojvodina 21
yes, In the National Assembly, equality and representation of different genders and members of national minorities shall be provided (currently 21,6% women)22
Council for Gender Equality, currently headed by the Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Policy; Commission for Gender Equality of the National Assembly; Gender Centre of Republika Srpska24
further institutionalization is needed
National Action Plan in progress23
2. Women for Women International, Kosova: www.womenforwomen.org
12. http://www.undp.hr/show.jsp?page=62943 and http://www.stopvaw.org/sites/3f6d15f4-c12d-4515-8544-26b7a3a5a41e/uploads/CROATIA_VAW_FACT_SHEET_2006.pdf
13. The Association for Emancipation, Solidarity and Equality of Women of the Republic of Macedonia and Ms. Susannah Petrie, Member of Advisory Body, Ministry of Foreign Affaires, Republic of Macedonia
Some examples: FYROM: 2006 Law On Equal Opportunities of Women and Men, Amendments to the Criminal Code in 2004 related to crimes against sexual freedom, the Gender Action Plan 2007-2012; Montenegro: 2007 Law on Gender Equality; Bosnia and Herzegovina: 2003 Law on Gender Equality, 2005 Establishment of the Gender Centre; Serbia: no gender equality regulation, but a Gender and Ethnicity Research Centre exists; Croatia: new Gender Equality Law adopted 15 July 2008, 2003: creation of the post for Ombudsperson for Gender Equality; Albania: 2004 Law on Gender Equality
In March 2002, the Barcelona European Council acknowledged the importance of childcare in terms of growth and equal opportunities calling on MS to 'remove disincentives to female labour force participation and strive, taking into account the demand for childcare facilities and in line with national patterns of provision, to provide childcare by 2010 to at least 90% of children between 3 years old and the mandatory school age and at least 33% of children under 3 years of age'.