The role of rural women is crucial for the development of Serbia

©UN WOMEN/Marija Piroski

Belgrade, 16 October 2017 - On the occasion of the International Day of Rural Women, the Coordination Body for Gender Equality, UN Women in Serbia and the Women's Platform for the Development of Serbia opened a debate on the quality of life of rural women, rural development and agriculture that recognizes, uses and develops women's resources, knowledge and networks.

Zorana Mihajlovic, Deputy Prime Minister and President of the Coordination Body for Gender Equality in the Government of the Republic of Serbia, opened the conference entitled “Rural women: Towards better quality of life in rural areas”, saying that there is a lot of women when it comes to work, but when it comes to property ownership, they almost do not exist.

“We are here today to map out all the problems rural women are facing and to find concrete answers and ways how to make things better. This conference thus has to be the first in a series of events on this topic,” said Mihajlovic.

Zeljko Radosevic, State Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management, pointed out that the Ministry had initiated the implementation of gender equality policy in the field of agriculture. "This is just one way to improve the situation of women in rural areas and their engagement," Radosevic said.

Milena Rikanovic, UN Women in Serbia representative, said that rural women are key to rural development in the country but on the other side are faced with numerous problems. “It is necessary that rural women are positioned and perceived as a basis for sustainable development in rural areas," said Rikanovic.

According to Karla Hershey, UN Resident Coordinator in Serbia, empowering rural women fits into a comprehensive approach that inspired the new Global Agenda 2030 and calls that we leave no one behind. "Recognizing and applying this approach will bring great benefits to rural women in Serbia, as well as Serbia as a whole," Hershey said.

Pauline Menthonnex, Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Switzerland, said that Switzerland supports Serbia in its endeavors to achieve gender equality with special focus on rural women in Southern and Western Serbia in the fields of agriculture and tourism.

After the introductory speeches, the conference continued with the presentation of the Alternative Report on the Situation of Rural Women in Serbia to the CEDAW Committee by Kosana Beker. Participants were then divided into groups on different topics varying from policies, measures and institutional framework to funds and budgets in a bid to jointly come up with solutions within each area.

The idea of honoring rural women with a special day was put forward at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, in 1995 when the Serbian government also committed to provide rural women with equal access and full participation in public life as well as to raise awareness on their needs and possibilities in creating rural development policies.