Demands for gender equality presented at rally

Ljubljana – Several hundreds of people gathered in Ljubljana’s Congress Square on International Women’s Day on Tuesday to express opposition to gender-based discrimination against women. Five comprehensive demands were presented as part of the rally that sought to improve the position of women in society and ensure gender equality.

The demands presented by several associations, non-governmental organisations, trade unions and the Women’s Lobby of Slovenia deal with education and raising awareness of equality and gender stereotypes and decent work.

They also deal with the elimination of economic discrimination against women, prevention of violence against women and children, general, sexual and reproductive health, and parity.

“It is high time to stop discrimination and sexual violence against women and ensure proper reproductive health, protect our right to make decisions about our own bodies, and create a better policy and environment for all women,” said Mojca Žerak, one of the organisers of the rally.

“We believe that women’s liberation is linked to the fight against capitalism and all inequalities that this system produces,” she added.

According to Žerak, discrimination against women takes place today in a more subtle and hidden manner, but it is still present both in public and private life, so she demanded that “our voice be heard in the public and taken into account”.

The demands were supported by speeches by women who have suffered discrimination, with Iva van Hoek of the Moja Mavrica association saying that she, as a homosexual woman, was often being told that “she has not found the right man yet.”

“If I exist only in relation to a man and for their pleasure, I as a lesbian can be perceived as a sexual object or I don’t exist at all,” she said, expressing concern about the notion that a woman who is not subordinated to men has no place in society.

The Pride Parade Association meanwhile said in a statement before the rally that International Women’s Day was also a holiday for LGBTIQ+ women.

It noted that assisted reproductive technology was still only available to heterosexual couples. “This obsolete restriction does not allow lesbian couples and single persons to decide about starting a family and about their own bodies without having a man,” it said.

The association would also like to see transsexual women be less discriminated by public institutions that make binary gender divisions as they undergo procedures to determine their gender identity on the basis of self-identification.

On behalf of the trade union of the retail chains Lidl, Tuš and Spar, Sara Dujić of the Cedra centre for social research said that working conditions in retail shops were deteriorating every year.

“We work hard mentally and physically, as the management systematically plans the minimum number of employees per shift. It is evident from the many sick leaves that we really work hard,” she said.

Dujić said that despite working hard, retail shop workers often did not receive even the minimum wage, and many of them would not be able to work at such a high pace and in such conditions until retirement.

From Congress Square, the rally moved to the building of the Health Ministry to note the importance of providing adequate healthcare to all women. It concluded in Republic Square, where the demands were read once again.