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Forum “Relevant directions of gender policy in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals”

26 June 2019

On June 25, 2019 the Forum “Relevant directions of gender policy in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals” was held in Minsk.

The forum was held to discuss the priorities of gender policy, taking into account the international experience and the national context of the Republic of Belarus, as well as contribution to the achievement of SDG 5 – “Ensuring gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls”. The proposals developed at the Forum will be used in the development of the National Strategy for Sustainable Development of the Republic of Belarus for the period up to 2035 and the National Action Plan for Gender Equality in the Republic of Belarus for 2021-2025.

The forum included three thematic sessions. At the session “Balance of family and work: is it real in the modern world?” participants discussed the development of an infrastructure and social environment friendly to families with children, the corporate concept of “jobs friendly to parents” (Softeko LLC) and approaches to more active involvement of men in child care and housework (RBOO “Club Lvov”). At the session “Combating Domestic Violence” participants discussed the legal aspects of combating domestic violence, the practical assistance provided to the victims (MOO “Gender Perspectives”) and economic losses due to domestic violence in Belarus (Institute of Economics of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus). The session “Women's Employment and Entrepreneurship as a Driver for Achieving SDG 5 Gender Equality” presented the results of the study “Using Behavioral Techniques to Empower Women’s Economic Empowerment in Belarus”, which was carried out as part of the “Women in the Labor Market” initiative funded by The British Embassy in Minsk and implemented by the UN Development Program in the Republic of Belarus. Also within the framework of the Forum there was held the presentation of the project “Women's Business”, implemented by the Belarusian Union of Women.

Marianna Shchotkina, national coordinator on implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, drew attention to the fact that women's rights in Belarus are legally ensured, but they must be fully implemented. To do this, one should support women who combine family and professional self-realization, develop mechanisms to combat stereotypes in society that interfere with full self-realization, and develop female entrepreneurship. An example of latter is the project “Women's Business”, in which women who are prominent in their profession share experience with those who start their own business. The main objectives of the project are the promotion of entrepreneurship as an effective life strategy for women and the formation of a positive image of women's entrepreneurship as an important factor in the country's socio-economic development. Other topical issues in the field of gender policy include creating family friendly jobs, strengthening families through mediation, the possibility of telecommuting, flexible schedules, and further training for women.

The UN Resident Coordinator in the Republic of Belarus, Joanna Kazana-Wisniowiecki, noted: “The issues of equality between women and men relate to economic and social policies, sustainable development in the demographic plan. Women's rights policies should be as high priority as the state’s economic, social, or environmental policies. A gender-sensitive approach should be an integral part of strategic planning and decision-making. Women have a very great potential, which is not sufficiently used in the economic development of the country. And we put emphasis on employment, especially the employment of women in high-tech areas with high salaries. We can cite more than one example when a gender-sensitive approach positively influenced the development of developed countries: creating new jobs, ensuring a better balance between professional activity and personal life, bridging the wage gap, increasing the birth rate. All these are the results of a specific state policy, which may work in Belarus. This year, the whole world celebrates the 40th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, a bill on women's rights. Next 2020, the UN General Assembly will be dedicated to reviewing the progress of Member States in implementing the provisions of the Beijing Platform for Action. Together with partners, the UN will continue to promote women's rights and translate commitments into action. ” She also drew attention to the fact that the average wage for the same position of a man and a woman is 27% different. This gap is a problem not only of Belarus, but also of the most developed countries. However, there are techniques to deal with this problem. Joanna Kazana-Wisniowiecki also emphasized the importance of public discussion in Belarus on the rejection of domestic violence.

Forum presentations:

Gender Equality as an SDGs accelerator (Nurgul Kinderbaeva, Gender Program Specialist, Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, UNFPA)

State gender policy – key areas of activity (Valery Kovalkov, Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Protection of the Republic of Belarus)

Gender statistics (Elena Kukharevich, National Statistics Committee of the Republic of Belarus)

Project “Women's Business”

Development of a Family-Friendly Infrastructure and Social Environment (Victoria Juodeshko, Department of Demography and Gender Studies, Research Institute of Labor, Ministry of Labor and Social Protection)

Family-Friendly Workplaces: Parenthood as a Corporate Value for Employers (Anna Levdanskaya-Witt)

Innovative approaches to more active involvement of men in child care and housework (Vyacheslav Shcherba, Chairman of the Republican Charitable Association “Club of Lions”)

Combating domestic violence in the Republic of Belarus. Legal aspects (Oleg Karazey, Head of the Department of Prevention of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Belarus)

Assessment of economic losses due to domestic violence with a focus on gender and Belarusian specifics (Anastasia Bobrova, Head of the Department of Human Development and Demography, Institute of Economics, National Academy of Sciences of Belarus)

Combating domestic violence: practical experience of the Kobrin district

Involvement of public organizations in the work to combat domestic violence in the Republic of Belarus (Irina Alkhovka, Gender Perspectives NGO)

Applying Behavioural Insights to Female Economic Empowerment in Belarus (Evie Monnington-Taylor, Senior Advisor, International Programs; Chloe Bustin, Advisor, International Programs).

Representation of women in the technological sphere in Belarus and the world (Anna Bondarenko)

The forum was hosted by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in the Republic of Belarus and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in the Republic of Belarus.

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