Podgorica, 28 November 2016 – In Montenegro women make up the majority of the population, but are a minority in taking advantage of so-called favourable opportunities, engaging in business ventures, ownership of businesses, executive functions in companies and engaging in politics. Employment of women, in this context, was the topic of a workshop organised by the EU Info Centre in cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce of Montenegro, with the participation of representatives from all walks of life and with the presentation of examples of successful female entrepreneurship, within which special attention was given to motivation and training in skills for higher employability.

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“Being aware of the inherited gender inequality, history and traditions, we have to be persistent in overcoming social, cultural, traditional and other prejudices about women. It also takes persistence to foster the economic empowerment of women, which would significantly increase their participation in decision making, and lead us to a more prosperous society and  a healthier economy”, said the Vice-President of the Chamber of Commerce of Montenegro, Ljiljana Filipović.

According to UN statistics, women do 67% of the world’s work, earn 10% of the income, own 1% of the wealth, and earn 15–50% less than men do for the same work.

In Montenegro, 50.2% of the population are women and they own only 9.7% of the country’s businesses. The average salary of women in Montenegro is 14% lower than the average earnings of men, primarily because they perform jobs that are less well-paid.

Women in Montenegro have one-third less chance of being employed, and are less represented in the working population. On the other hand, women make up 60% of the highly educated population and they represent an extremely strong potential for Montenegro, which requires the necessary instruments to support them in giving their maximum contribution to the society in which they live.

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The President of the Committee for Women’s Entrepreneurship of the Chamber of Commerce, Slavica Striković, stressed the importance of self-employment among women, starting their own businesses, to which significantly more attention should be given, because female entrepreneurship is the fastest growing category in the entrepreneurial world, regardless of the level of economic development of the country.

There are, however, still a number of limiting factors: difficulties in accessing financial resources, a lack of the necessary knowledge and experience for starting a business, a lack of confidence, difficulty in accessing various professional associations and still an uneven sharing of domestic and family tasks between men and women.

The head of the Department for International Mediation and Employment of the Employment Agency of Montenegro (EAM), Gordana Vukčević, said that Montenegro has established a legal and institutional framework, and has adopted policy and strategic documents that support gender equality, the promotion of women’s rights and the economic empowerment of women, which are prerequisites for embarking on removing obstacles when it comes to the economic status of women, their education, protection at work and in daily life.

According to her, women now make up the majority of the total unemployed. For many years the number of women registered at the EAM was smaller than the number of unemployed men, but in recent years the number of unemployed women has significantly increased.

Vukcevic said that the Employment Agency constantly carries out various measures of active employment policy. Among them is the project “Accounting for a Better Future” funded by the European Union. Within the project, training for the profession of accounting technician for at least 240 unemployed people will be organised, and at least a quarter of those who successfully complete the training will get a job.

In the discussion that followed, other proposals for the economic empowerment of women were heard, such as the adoption of a regulation which would legalise activities carried out by women in the grey economy, or modification of a regulation which prevents welfare recipients being engaged in employment-assistance projects, because they would lose their right to social benefits. It was also said that it is necessary to think about the establishment of a women’s parliamentary network that would advocate in the parliament for a better position for women entrepreneurs.

The contents of this news item are the sole responsibility of the EU Info Centre and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.