70th Anniversary since women gained voting rights in Montenegro

Jun 28, 2016

Solemn Academy: Multimedia programme as a reflection of key moments in the history of women's political activism in Montenegro. Photo by: Milos Vujovic

On the occasion of the 70th anniversary since women in Montenegro gained the right to vote, the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro, Ministry of Human and Minority Rights and UNDP, in cooperation with the Montenegrin National Theatre, organised a solemn academy.

Through a multimedia programme, designed as a reflection on key moments in the history of women's political activism in Montenegro, the audience in the national theatre was able to see how women in Montenegro invested efforts in the past several decades to equally share the political space with men.

Opening the academy, EU Ambassador to Montenegro, Mitja Drobnic, recalled that equality between women and men is one of the founding values of the European Union. "The question of gender equality in political, economic and social life of a country requires continuous education and raising awareness of all members of society, and there is always room for improvement. Being able to vote is one aspect of this story. Having a possibility to be elected, not only on paper, but also in practice, is another important element which shows the extent to which democratic values are upheld in a society", said the Head of EU Delegation.

"The EU advocates integration of gender perspective into all policies and promotes specific measures to increase the number of women in politics as well as in the labour market, and to ensure that women have equal chances in securing better education. The EU is also strongly committed to ending gender-based violence", stated Ambassador Drobnic.

Minister of Human and Minority Rights in the Government of Montenegro, Suad Numanovic, invited all guests to jointly reflect on the paths women took to achieve equality, to feel the atmosphere in which they cherished their hopes and convictions and worked on their socio-political activism. He highlighted that women's position has been significantly enhanced in Montenegro. Women now participate in executive and judicial authorities, they are represented in business, and their presence is strong in culture and arts. "We have made progress when it comes to women's rights and Europe recognises this. We know we are on a good path, but we are aware of the challenges ahead", said Numanovic. He noted that the solemn academy was an occasion to remember women who fought for their rights and their place in Montenegro's society and history, as well as an opportunity to look back at the strength of women to endure in the fight for their beliefs. This academy was an opportunity to pay homage to their historic success.

In her opening remarks, UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative in Montenegro, Fiona McCluney underlined that Montenegrin women's fight for the right to vote was part of a global fight, recalling that Montenegrin suffragettes started their fight at the beginning of World War Two and shaped their political requests and actions through the anti-fascist movement. Yet, as McCluney noted, women's political participation and making gender equality a reality remains an issue today. Hence the importance of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which include Gender Equality, as well as of numerous conventions and resolutions which show that gender equality is a key vision of the UN and a political commitment of 189 countries, including Montenegro.

* * *
Solemn academy was organised in the framework of an EU-funded project on "Support to anti-discrimination and gender equality policies", implemented by UNDP and Ministry for human and minority rights. The programme is implemented in cooperation with NGO NOVA – Centre for feminist culture.