Viоlеta Јоvаnоv Pеštаnаc, Vlаdimira Dоrčоva Vаltnеrоva and Тiјаna Јаnkоvić are the awarded winners of the best media product competition on participation of women in exercise of ethnic minority rights. They received their awards during today's ceremony held in the Vojvodina Parliament building for their creativity and originality in their journalist's work contributing to public awareness-raising on the significance of gender equality in the field of ethnic minority rights and affirmation of the role of women in national minority councils.
'The quality of the media products in the competition is satisfactory, unlike the number of the competitors, which was symbolic' stated Аnikо Мuškinjа Hајnrih, the Provincial Ombudsman, during the ceremony. In her opinion, journalists need to show more interest in the position of women in the society. Women in (ethnic) minority communities are present in executive positions, where hands-on work is required, but not in leading or decision-making structures. Once again, this indicates that neither the national councils, nor the society in general, understand the role of women in them.
Eva Vukаšinоvić, Deputy Ombudsman for National Minority Rights Protection, talked to Mr. Temaj Bajrami, the owner of the Evropa bakery vandalized in the night between Thursday and Friday. This bakery was one of the tens of similar targets all over Vojvodina attacked over the last couple of days. The vandalism happened in the aftermath of the last week's incidents happening during the football match between Serbia and Albania. Most of the owners of these bakeries have ethnic Albanian or Gorani names.
Talking to Temaj Bajrami, the Deputy Ombudsman learnt that he had been threatened over the two previous days and that he, concerned about the safety of his employees in the bakery, addressed the Novi Sad Police on 16 October. He asked them to provide security to his bakery in Cara Lazara Street over the next couple of days, but he was refused with an explanation that there are not enough available police officers to do it.
The Equinet Training on Positive Action Measures, held in Belgrade on 16-17 October, brought together over 50 participants from national and international equality and anti-discrimination institutions from Europe, USA, European Commission and Serbia. One of the feature presentations by eminent external speakers and experts of equality bodies in the interactive workshop sessions was the presentation of Danica Todorov, the Gender Equality Deputy Ombudsman with the Provincial Protector of Citizens - Ombudsman.
The aim of the training was to build on the discussions in the working group Equality Law in Practice and analyze the legal questions relating to the application of positive action measures on the basis of EU Equal Treatment Directives by discussing concrete cases and policies on different grounds of discrimination. The training focusing on good practice examples and the effectiveness and impact of the existing legislation, policies and practices, Danica Todorov shared experience from the Provincial Ombudsman Approaching Female and Male Citizens project supported by UN Women concerning advocating implementation of the Gender Equality Law provisions in three public companies in Vojvodina. One of the project aims was for the regional electricity supplier Elektrovojvodina and forestry management public company Vojvodinašume, as well as a local water and sewage management company from Subotica, was to deliver a one-day staff and management training on gender equality, so they would later officially adopt the UN Women and Global Pact Women's Empowerment Principles and develop plans for improvements in the field of gender equality in their companies.
The Vet 4 Roma international two-year mediation project, implemented in Serbia, Spain, Italy, Belgium and Romania and supported by the European Commission Lifelong Learning Programme, was presented today in the Parliament of the AP of Vojvodina.
In her opening address, Аnikо Мuškinjа Heinrich, the Provincial Ombudsman of Vojvodina, pointed out the institutional commitment of Provincial Protector of Citizens - Ombudsman (PPCO) to monitoring Roma rights exercise and protection by means of both offering legal protection and research activities. 'It was precisely the Roma Settlements in Vojvodina research that recommended our institution for partnership in this very significant project,' concluded the Provincial Ombudsman.
The Provincial Protector of citizens - Ombudsman has completed its third and final research study report on the implementation of the National Minority Councils Law and functioning of these councils since their foundation in 2010. This report is a unique compilation of three subsequent research reports comprising a legal analysis of the issues concerning the practical aspects of the implementation of this Law. It also contains feedback from the National Councils on the directions the amendments of the existing Law should take.
The third and final research incentive was twofold. Not only will the first mandate of the first ever National Councils to expire in October 2014, but the Law itself has been amended according to the ruling of the Serbian Constitutional Court stating that some of its provisions were not in line with the Constitution. The aim of the research was to do a retrospective analysis based on the data concerning the practical implementation of the Law during the National Councils' first mandate. More particularly, its objectives were to establish whether there had been any changes as compared to the data obtained in 2011, as well as to pinpoint the most prominent issues faced by the Councils implementing the Law.
In her address to the Parliament, Аnikо Мuškinjа Heinrich, the Provincial Ombudsman, pointed out that the Draft had been amended to comply with the decision of the Serbian Constitutional Court, as well as the new APV Statute.
'Working on the Draft Decision,' said Мuškinjа Heinrich, 'we were also guided by the provisions of the Law on the Protector of Citizens, so some issues had been regulated in an identical way, but still, naturally, within the frame of the PPCO jurisdiction.'
'Human rights observation, as well as peace-building and peacekeeping in a society, is not possible without women. This is why it is important to have more women in the security sector, with equal opportunities to those of men and recognized for their knowledge and expertise. It is equally important to have them in decision-making positions in this sector. Gender equality related complaints to the Provincial Protector of Citizens - Ombudsman (PPCO) indicate that there is still much space to improve the existing state and change of public opinion regarding the roles of women and men both in the society and in the field of security in general,' stated Gender Equality Deputy Ombudsman Danica Todorov at the Women Wearing Uniforms panel discussion held today in Novi Sad.
The panel discussion is one of the activities of the Women Wearing Uniforms project of the Social and Democratic Initiative Fund (FoSDI). The aim of the project is improvement of the position of women in the defense and security sectors and promotion of values of equality and equal opportunities along the recommendations of the UN Committee and the Security Council Resolution 1325 on prevention of discrimination of women entitled Women, peace, security.
The Deputy Provincial Ombudsman for Children's Rights Protection Marija Kоrdić participated at the Annual Conference of the Children's Ombudsmen Network in South-East Europe (CRONSEE) held in Belgrade from 18-20 September. The conference dealt with the effects of the economic crisis on the possibilities of children's rights exercise, protection and development.
The cross-cutting issue of the Conference was the fact that children have been the most affected by the crisis in the country. Statistics indicate that the number of children in Serbia decreased by 205,000 during the last decade, making thus only 17.2 percent of the total population.
Ombudsmen discussed this issue with the members of the Children's Rights Board of the Serbian National Parliament. Their President, both that of the Parliament and the Board, Maja Gојkоvić and Nаdа Lаzić, the Deputy President of the Board, stated that children are the ones who should be the least affected by the measures undertaken in economic crisis. Pointing out that human rights are often in the shadow of economic issues, the Deputy Parliament President Gоrdаnа Čоmić referred to ombud institutions as 'the only beacon of light in the country' and appealed for supporting them in the future.
'Do not ever doubt the significance of minority self-government, no matter how often the ignorant about the matter tell you it is obsolete. Its significance was confirmed in 2006, when National Minority Councils became a constitutional category,' pointed out Аnikо Мuškinjа Heinrich, the Provincial Ombudswoman, in her opening address to the participants of the National Minority Councils Elections training in Vrdnik yesterday.
The training participants, exclusively women and prospective candidates in the forthcoming October elections, came to acquire additional knowledge of the elections process and its procedure, as well as to learn into greater detail about the new provisions of the Law on Amendments of the National Minority Councils Law.
'One of the feature characteristics of the Provincial Protector of Citizens - Ombudsman (PPCO) institution is its field work. This way the institution gets a more elaborate insight into the Roma minority challenges. Some of the issues, such as employment, education and housing have already been mentioned today. However, there are other, unmentioned problems, such as that of the employment status of the Roma Coordinators with the local self-governments, abuse of the affirmative measures or non-transparent funding in calls for proposals to which Roma associations apply as well,' stated Еvа Vukаšinоvić, the National Minority Rights Protection Deputy Ombudswoman.
Participating in the Openly About Roma Culture panel discussion, she pointed out that there is a growing animosity towards minorities in general in the society because there is an impression that members of national minority communities are privileged as compared to the ethnic majority.