Interview: Gordana Čomić

Interview: Gordana Čomić, MP and vice-president of National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia

Have you, as a women in politics, felt discriminated against or been treated differently from your colleagues?
I haven’t experienced discrimination because you can only be patronized and discriminated by those to whom you do not make a clear stance known that this does not work. In the struggle for women’s rights, it not only important how we are, but how it will be for the women who come after us. Different treatment is apparent, despite this, because women must prove their political capabilities while men are assumed to have them without any need to prove them. Women in politics begin with the question, “What will I do?” while men ask “What will I be?” The difference in approaches is vast.

Do you believe that women are adequately represented in politics and in which way can they get more involved?
Of course they are underrepresented, and for there to be more of us there must be regulations forbidding the kind of behaviour motivated by the prejudice that politics aren’t “woman’s work.” These regulations would firstly tackle negative stereotypes about politics as a career as part of the quotas which guarantee women’s representation. And the second regulation would act in a similar way upon political parties.

Apart from quotas, are there any other attempts to include women?
No. Quotas are a crucial mechanism for institutions and for political parties.

How do you see the attitude of the media towards the issues of gender equality?
Indeed, they rarely dare to fundamentally leave behind stereotypes, to explain what is accepted norm in our constitution and laws, and to research why and where the laws guaranteeing women’s rights are applied so rarely or not at all.

Which institution, in your opinion, contributes the most to gender equality?
Independent bodies which deal with human rights and equality, the Protector of Citizens and Commissioner for the Protection of Equality, as well as civil society activists, international organisations, and the National Assembly.

In comparison to other countries in the region, how is Serbia doing in terms of gender equality?
In terms of laws, context, and broad public opinion, we’re pretty similar to others in the region. Serbia has recently allocated the forming of the “Female Parliamentarians Network” which is made up of MP volunteers who join together with the goal to protect female interests and representation, female health, the protection of women’s economic interests, and joint collaboration despite partisan and all other differences.

 

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