Podgorica, June 16, 2021 – Every other citizen believes that women and men are different to the extent that it makes it impossible to fully achieve gender equality. Also, half of the citizens believe that the employer has the legal right to request a certificate that the job candidate is not pregnant. Three-quarters of the employees in state institutions would support the introduction of quotas for women in high-ranking management positions in the Government.
These are the findings from the research on the attitudes and perceptions of citizens and public administration employees on gender equality, which was conducted on a representative sample and presented today at the conference of the United Nations Development Office (UNDP) in Montenegro "Equality at the Heart of Government".
When it comes to the attitudes of citizens, the research shows that about 60 percent believe that for the benefit of children, it is more desirable for a man to work, and for a woman to fully commit herself to the family.
Although gender inequality and discrimination against women are clearly perceived in the public administration, two-thirds of employees believe that the issue of gender equality is excessively imposed today as an unnatural and unachievable goal that does not significantly improve the position of women in Montenegro. Despite the fact that women make up only one-quarter of the total management staff in public administration, two out of three men believe that women are adequately represented in governing bodies, while women hold a different opinion. Namely, one in two women believes that there should be significantly more of them. As many as 60 percent of public administration employees are not sure whether a gender analysis has been conducted in their institution in the last year.
This 3 year-long (2021-2023) project enforces a comprehensive, structural reform of the national disability determination system. The project is funded by EU (1 million euro) and implemented by UNDP, in partnership with civil society organizations representing persons with disabilities, relevant ministries and relevant state institutions. The aim of the reform is to set up a single body for disability determination (Institute) and establish uniform national criteria and methodology in line with the human-rights based approach. The project is recognized as a priority area by Program of Economic Reforms (2021-2023).
The key stakeholders are: CSOs representing persons with disabilities, Ministry of Finance and Social Welfare, Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport and national institutions: Institute for Public Health, the Pension Fund, Employment Agency, Social Welfare Centres.
The overall objective is to fully reform the national disability determination system - for more just, equal and easier access to rights to all kinds of cash benefits and services for persons with disabilities, in line with the national positive legislation and ratified UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
This is a complex reforming venture which includes five sectors: social protection, employment, pension and war veterans and education and health. All the disability entitlements (various cash transfers and social services, disability pensions, employment and professional rehabilitation, education entitlements, various subsidies, etc.), in these sectors for about 50,000 citizens and their families, directly depend on design of disability determination system.
The reform should suspend the existing Commissions and establish a single national entity (Institute for Disability Determination) which will conduct a process of disability determination based on a new, uniform, national methodology and criteria for all the sectors. The current disability determination system is operated though 30 Commissions whereas each sector has its own commissions and mostly medically (illnesses and health conditions) based disability determination criteria. The present legal framework operates on the basis of six laws and 17 by-laws. A significant number of support staff and external associates (around 200) are engaged in the Commissions.
Upon establishing of the new system, persons with disabilities will exercise their rights in a more fair and easier manner, while it will also enable better monitoring of the potential misuses of social and other benefits and services. New definition of disability was adopted by act of ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2009). Under the Convention, persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which, in interaction with various barriers, may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.
Key Activities in 2021:
- Analysis of necessary amendments to the existing legislative framework and adoption of the new Law on the Single Disability Determination Entity and Uniform Methodology for Disability Determination;
- Revising and adoption of the Single List of Impairments and Medical Conditions – by which all the existing lists are to be repealed;
- Development of the new uniform methodology/criteria. The new system should also enable expert assessment of the remaining functionalities for daily life activities (hygiene, food preparation, grocery shopping, health care, etc.), as well as for work ability (related to the professional rehabilitation).
Key Activities in 2022:
- Abolition of all the existing commissions (around 30) and establishment of the Institute (single entity for disability determination) that would perform disability determination for all the sectors;
- Adaptation and equipping of the Institute premises;
- Hiring professional staff. Capacity building of Institute staff to apply new methodology;
- Trial run the new system, followed by an upgrade on the basis of the trial findings.
Key Activities in 2023:
- Development of a tailor-made Information System for the Institute for disability determination, which will have interoperability with the e-Social Card and e-Health Card and if possible with other ICs. This System will generate national e-Registry of Persons with Disabilities;
- Trainings for the Information System users and initial intensive functioning support for the new System operation along with provision of maintenance (1 year).
- Development and adoption of new methodology for disability determination;
- Institutional rightsizing and optimization – by termination of the current Commissions and establishing of a national disability determination entity;
- The CSO representing persons with disabilities will be duly involved in all project activities while the project will be continuously supported by the public campaign run by these CSO.
Tamara Srzentić, Minister of Public Administration, Digital Society and Media, pointed out that the Ministry has placed the gender equality issue high on the list of priorities.
"It is indeed one of the strategic imperatives of our team. We believe that diversity and equality in inclusion are essential for a successful organization and that it is crucial for our team to reflect the diversity of the public we serve. Our goal is to increase access, remove barriers, develop skills, and empower people who might in some way be marginalized and excluded from creating and implementing government policies, programs, and services. We are committed to promoting an inclusive environment in which all individuals will feel free to express themselves fully, where their uniqueness will be valued and where they will feel part of the team," Srzentić said.
Daniela Gašparikova, UNDP Resident Representative in Montenegro, reminded everyone of the Conference on Women in Beijing, which was adopted 26 years ago, and which highlights that women's participation in all spheres of society represents the basis for achieving equality and development.
"Many of us would think that a quarter of a century is enough to achieve the goals set in Beijing. The reality, however, is different. Women globally, and thus in Montenegro, are still underrepresented in decision-making positions and leadership positions. The road to gender equality is long and challenging one and requires a comprehensive approach, responsibility and joint action of all: private and public sector institutions and individuals," said Gašparikova, adding that UNDP intends to continue its long-term work with partners to empower women in all spheres of life and influence better design and implementation of gender-equality policies.
Herman Spitz, head of the cooperation section of the EU Delegation to Montenegro, believes that Montenegro needs to strengthen its efforts to integrate a gender perspective into its policies and reforms, including in the public administration sector.
"Elimination of gender inequality in public administration is important for the ongoing public administration reform in Montenegro, which is crucial for the of Montenegro's EU integration process. The EU will continue to support and monitor gender-responsive reforms in Montenegro, "said Spitz.
During the previous two years, UNDP and Human Resources Management Authority, worked intensively on capacity building in public administration, and implemented an accredited training program for trainers from the ranks of public administration. Certificates were awarded to 24 trainees today.