Economic empowerment

Photo: UN Women/Branko Starcevic

The magnitude of the gender gap in labor participation is evident from much higher inactivity rate of women (31% vs. 49% for working age population).[1] Many other indicators reveal the disadvantaged position of women in the labor market, such as the concentration of women in low productivity sectors and in the care economy. Discrimination is also evident in the realm of recruitment, promotion, pay and benefits, the availability of training opportunities and in relation to maternity and parental leave.[2] Women own significantly less property compared to men: 18% of land, 15% of the houses and 19% of flats.[3] Additional effort is needed to encourage women to participate in occupational areas where they are traditionally under-represented, to facilitate reconciliation of professional and private life for women and men, to prevent and combat sexual harassment of women in the workplace, and to increase women’s access to employment and entrepreneurship (CEDAW, ICESRC Concluding Observations).

In the area of economic empowerment, UN Women in Serbia supports policies and projects that:

  • advance women’s economic rights;
  • improve their access to justice.

Funded by the European Union, the project Strengthening Social Cohesion in the Labour Market through Support to Disadvantaged and Vulnerable Groups aims to increase employment opportunities for Roma in Belgrade. UN Women advises the project, which is being implemented by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), on integrating gender equality in project activities and gives support to a Roma women mentoring program.

To fight gender-based discrimination, UN Women has a long-standing cooperation with the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality, an independent institution established in 2010 to monitor implementation of the Anti-Discrimination Law. UN Women supported training across the country for women’s NGOs and local authorities on how to use services offered by the Commissioner for Protection of Equality, as well the institution of the Commissioner on its internal handling of complaints for discrimination based on gender and on multiple grounds.

Under the European PROGRES project, UN Women has helped organise outreach visits and information sessions for women, men, key local institutions and grassroots women’s NGOs in remote municipalities in the rural south.

UN Women in Action in Serbia

  • To support increased corporate engagement in gender equality, UN Women introduced the Women’s Empowerment Principles global initiative. As a result, 77 companies in Serbia have signed and started implementing the Women’s Empowerment Principles.
  • Supported the development of Serbia’s first tool that companies can use themselves to assess their performance on equal opportunities and non-discrimination.
  • UN Women partnered with Serbia’s Ministry of Economy and Regional Development to conduct a gender analysis of barriers to women’s entrepreneurship, which eventually led to the first government credit line specifically designed to support women’s businesses.
  • The first regional office of the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality opened in the Southern city of Novi Pazar in 2014, under the partnership with UNOPS and the EU PROGRES project.

[1] Statistical Office of Republic of Serbia, Labour Force Survey, 2012:15

[2] 2013 Report of the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality http://www.ravnopravnost.gov.rs/images/files/Poverenik%20za%20zastitu%20ravnopravnosti%20-%20Izvestaj%202013.pdf

[3] Earnings statistics, SORS, and Women and Men in the Republic of Serbia, SORS, 2011