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On Saturday, 8 July 2023, a seminar on gender equality and encouraging the inclusion of women in the decision-making process was held in Bijelo Polje with the participation of councilors from the municipalities Bijelo Polje, Ulcinj, Rožaje, Plav, and Mojkovac, as well as councilors from the Capital Podgorica.

The participants presented the challenges they face in relation to the implementation of the activities of the local women’s councilors clubs, which are mostly common to all the mentioned municipalities. Among them are the poor representation of women in the most responsible positions, then misunderstanding of the environment in which they live, and traditional understandings and prejudices that are often an obstacle to the realization of women’s rights that legally belong to them. In this context, it stands out, for example, the custom that men inherit property, that is, that it is the “obligation” of sisters to leave the inheritance to their brother or brothers. In this regard, women own only 25% of real estate in Montenegro.

These and similar challenges are complex to work with, and the establishment of local women’s councilors clubs, which was initiated through a project implemented by the Civic Alliance, is precisely one of the efficient ways to raise such topics and to strengthen the issue of gender equality and equality. Thus, the Women’s Councilor Club of Bijelo Polje Municipal Assembly organized workshops in the local communities in their municipality, which is the first step towards bringing them closer to the citizens from whom they need to receive information about the community’s problems. Councilors from the remaining cities saw the advantages of this way of acting and expressed their desire and willingness to participate in the same way in the creation of policies in their municipalities. Moreover, they agreed that they should work on forming a network of councilors that will be the first platform and resource for providing support to councilors in their work, as well as a platform for cooperation with the Women’s Club of the Parliament of Montenegro.

Some of the key messages of the seminar are as follows:

  • It is important to work on women empowering, first of all at the local level and through changing the awareness of family members, with the aim of providing support to women in exercising their rights.
  • It is necessary to make society aware of the importance of gender equality and the inclusion of women in the decision-making process, and this can best be achieved through education and information.
  • It is necessary to develop policies and legislation that actively support gender equality and enable women to participate equally in decision-making processes at all levels (political, economic, social).
  • It is important to encourage partnerships between men and women in the decision-making process to ensure diverse and inclusive decision-making, where different experiences contribute to the quality of decisions.

That is why the establishment of women’s councilor clubs in Rožaje, Plav, Mojkovac and Podgorica will be at the top of the councilors’ agenda. In addition, the Civic Alliance, the Women’s Councilor Club in Bijelo Polje Municipal Assembly, and the Women’s Councilor Club in the Ulcinj Municipal Assembly have expressed their willingness to provide support for the formation of women’s councilor clubs in other municipalities in Montenegro.

The seminar was organized as part of the project “Platform for achieving gender equality” with the support of the Ministry of Human Rights and Freedoms.