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    • "Gender and Security Sector Reform in Serbia" Report was presented in the National Assembly

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    • Date: 01 October 2010
      Presentation of the findings on the level of achievement of introducing a gender perspective in all policy areas and activities of the security sector institutions in Serbia was held on 30 September 2010 in the National Assembly in front of 90 participants (representatives of state institutions, international and civil society organizations, embassies and the media).

      Participants were addressed by President of the National Assembly Slavica Djukic-Dejanovic, Interior Minister Ivica Dacic, Major General Bozidar Forca, head of the Strategic Planning Department of the Ministry of Defense, Anja Ebnoter, Deputy Director of Geneva DCAF and Sonja Stojanovic, director of the Centre. In the second part of the presentation of research, Sonja Licht, President of the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence (BFPE), moderated the discussion.

      The institutional framework is in place, implementation still pending

      Serbian Parliament Speaker Slavica Djukic-Dejanovic said that Serbia has established a legal and institutional framework for achieving gender equality, still the representation of women in certain areas could be higher. Djukic-Dejanovic said that women are more present in key positions and managerial positions, but that level is not optimal. "Of the 26 ministers in the Serbian government, five are women. We think that this proportion could be different," said Djukic-Dejanovic, adding that in the Serbian Parliament every fifth member is a woman while four women serve as committees’ presidents. President pointed out that in order to improve the overall status of women and the creation of a more democratized society cooperation of the executive and legislative authorities with civil society is required.

      Positive step in engaging women in the police

      "Although the figures speak of under-representation of women in the operational structure and management positions in the police, a positive step in engaging women in the police has already been made. I ask you to take into account that the massive influx of women started just in 2002, said the Minister of Internal Affairs Ivica Dacic. He claimed how a true turnaround was achieved by the fact that all jobs become available to women, including the possibility of training to become a police woman. “Some time now a woman has been managing the police administration in Uzice, and one of her colleagues was the commander of the contingent to the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti," said Dacic. As Ms. Biljana Lazarevic stood up, she was greeted by applause. She stressed the need to work on getting the nature of police work closer to women.

      Minister stressed that the issue of women in the police is not only a question of human rights, but also increase of their presence in operational police work, because women bring a new quality into the police service. “Our chance of having a new image as a less repressive police service in the eyes of citizens has risen since female officers have been part of the patrols” said Dacic, adding that non-violent means of conflict resolution and communication skills are among attributes ascribed to women. "All subjects of this report should review the results presented here," said Dacic, adding that the figures speak of under-representation of women in the police, particularly in the operative part. The minister then presented statistics on the representation of women in police, according to which, in March 2002, out of the total number of employees, 16, 98 percent were women. In August 2005, percent rose to 19, 68 and in November 2009 the percentage was 20, 64.

      Dacic said that in the status of authorized official at the Ministry of Internal Affairs there reached 15.81 per cent of employees in 2005, and at the end of last year 19.95 percent. Women counted in 2005 for 6.6 percent of employees but now there are 7.49 percent. A shift has occurred in the representation of women in management positions, and women now make up 12.66 percent of all managers in the Interior Ministry, while in 2001 this percentage was slightly less than 2.

      Dacic pointed out that women in all competitions for the basic police training were among the first in the rankings, and also are among the most successful participants in the training. But to continue this trend, the Minister spoke of the need to analyze the overall human resources management system, in order to create a more transparent system of human resources.

      As for the women beneficiaries of the security sector, Dacic stressed that cooperation with civil society organizations is important especially when it comes to fighting gender-based violence. The police in this area have good cooperation with the judiciary and social welfare centers. Also, police have attended numerous training organized by civil society. Finally, the Minister agreed with the findings of the report that key to the adequate provision of services to women is to improve cooperation with other governmental agencies and associations, as well as to establish direct communication with women beneficiaries of police services.

      The role of women in the defense system

      Major General Bozidar Forca said that the Ministry of Defense paid great attention to establishing mechanisms for gender equality in the defense system, as gender equality is recognized as one of the priorities in the National Security Strategy. Ministry of Defense has led the process of drafting the National Action Plan (NAP) to implement UNSCR 1325 in Serbia. NAP proposal will be sent to the Government in October 2010, after which it is expected to be quickly adopted.

      Forca pointed out that women are represented in all categories of personnel in the Ministry of Defense and the Army of Serbia and that every fifth member of the Ministry of Defense is a woman. Women make up however only 2.6 percent of uniformed personnel, 19, 4 percent of students at the Military Academy and 15 percent of professional soldiers.

      Anja Ebnöter, Deputy Director of the Geneva Centre for Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) has emphasized the commitment of this organization to setting the agenda of Security Sector Reform in the Western Balkans by emphasizing the importance of gender perspective.

      Successes and shortcomings of introducing a gender perspective in security sector governance

      Sonja Stojanovic, Director of the Belgrade Center for Security Policy, while representing the main findings of the research pointed out that it is necessary to make changes in human resource management in the security sector, in order to create clear criterion for promotion and creation of conditions for keeping women in jobs in the security sector.

      As an example of measures to improve working conditions for women and men employed in the security sector, Sonja said that the reforms would enable better implementation of balance between private and work life of employees. It is necessary to also establish a better dialogue with citizens and civil society organizations and work on nonviolent conflict resolution. She stressed how women are still underrepresented when we consider the entire security sector. Although in some institutions in the security sector women make up more than 40 percent of the total number of employees (as is the case in the Ministry of Defense and the Army of Serbia), they are represented at the highest administrative tasks, and operational structure and management places have them at least.

      The reasons for the under representation of women in the security sector are set out as following: non-transparent system of promotion of staff, as well as the lack of objective and informative campaign for admission to institutions of the security sector. Informal barriers that affect both the greater involvement of women in security sector institutions, as well as the advancement of women within the institutions themselves are still the dominant social and cultural prejudices of the traditional role of women in society.

      Speaking about relations between the security sector and women as beneficiaries of services, Stojanovic said that in the context of women seen primarily as victims of gender based violence, while consultations with women who do not need protection is missing. Existing examples of successful cooperation between security institutions with civil society in fight against gender-based violence are not institutionalized, and consistent implementation of these models is sometimes lacking. Finally, Stojanovic said that it is necessary to improve coordination and communication between the various bodies dealing with gender equality and security, both at central and local level.

      A small number of women in decision-making

      In the second part of the presentation of the report, Sonja Licht, President of the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence, moderated the discussion with the participants. Licht said that women are still underrepresented in places where decisions are made, and it is necessary to more public awareness to issues of gender and security sector reform. "In the process of awakening, of encouraging and supporting women NGOs and the media are one of the main partner institutions of the security sector", said Sonja Licht.

      Natalija Micunovic, Director of the Gender Equality Department in the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs stressed that the Action Plan for the implementation of the empowerment of women and promote gender equality in Serbia was adopted on August 26, 2010. It is proposed that the Ministry of Defense should appoint a representative who would be involved in the coordinating body for implementation of this Action Plan. Ljiljana Ergic of the Roma women's organization “Bibija” has stated that it is necessary to work on bringing more employment opportunities in the security sector, particularly the police for women from the community. This should be done in partnership between security institutions and civil society.

      The report

      The report was developed based on 23 interviews and consultations on issues of gender and security sector reform, held in the first half of 2010 in Kragujevac, Novi Sad, Novi Pazar, Bujanovac and final conference in Belgrade. In consultations 134 representatives from the offices of relevant ministries, local institutions responsible for gender equality and security, civil society, international organizations and the media participated. The survey was conducted in cooperation with the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence, supported by the Geneva Centre for Democratic Control of Armed Forces. Please find enclosed a summary of findings and recommendations of the report Gender and Security Sector Reform

      Related topics:gender, Security, research, report, reform
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