Woman’s Day marked by warnings of violence against women

Ljubljana – The Slovenian PEN Centre and Mira, the women’s committee at the centre, warned of violence against women ahead of Woman’s Day, 8 March, while the Manager Association warned of inequalities at work, aggravated by the Covid-19 epidemic. A number of online discussions on the problems and potential of women will be held today.

The Slovenian PEN Centre and Mira addressed a letter featuring a list of eight demands to the government, National Assembly and Slovenian citizens ahead of Woman’s Day. Their main demand is redefinition of rape and protection of the rights and duties of citizens in line with the Constitution.

They oppose a model of society that does not allow women to decide freely on giving birth, and call for a legal restriction of hate speech on social media.

They also warn of women and female writers being subjected to physical attacks, mocking, censorship and violations of rights in the pandemic year.

Woman who are publicly stating their opinion are often intimidated, and women – be it politicians, authors, journalists, experts or any other public figures – are targets of smear campaigns more frequently than men, they said.

The PEN centre and Mira believe that the ban on assembly as part of epidemic measures has narrowed down the possibilities of men and women to stand up to this.

Due to the pressure on the STA, public media and government representatives of ministers who cannot directly and independently communicate with the media, the public and media life is being subjected to censorship and self-censorship, which puts the fundamental right of democracy – the freedom of speech – at risk, they wrote.

According to the Manager Association, the epidemic has made differences between men and women in professional settings worse.

Results of last year’s survey by consulting company McKinsey show that one in four women in the US is thinking of quitting her job during the epidemic although she did not even consider this in early 2020. This could jeopardise the results of decades of efforts to achieve gender equality in business, the association warns.

However, this crisis is also an opportunity to make companies more flexible and sympathetic, and create equal opportunities for both sexes, the association said, pointing to appointments of several women to senior positions in Slovenia in recent months.

The epidemic has increased gender inequality, because women took on most of the burden related to providing for children and distance learning as well as household choirs, because men mostly work in the more profitable sectors and because the sectors dominated by women have been more affected by the epidemic.

“This is why it will be an even greater challenge to increase the share of women in top positions in business – in Slovenia it currently stands at about 25%, according to data by the European Institute for Gender Equality,” the association said, noting this would be one of the goals of the national programme for equal opportunities of men and women until 2030, which is now in public debate.

One of the measures from the programme is also improving digital competences of women. Slovenia is currently faced with a great challenge of gender segregation in the digital sector, as more than 80% of men are currently educated and employed in this sector, the association said.

Several NGOs have also warned that the health, and social and economic crises have deepened the known problems of women and created new ones. Violence against women is on the rise and it is time for action, SOS Telefon and Iskra said in their call to the government, which was backed by the Karitas Safe House for the Primorska region and the 8 March Institute.

The SOS hotline said that between 1 January and 30 November 2020 an almost 13% rise in the number of cases of domestic violence had been processed by police.

Several events will be held today to mark Women’s Day. The PEN centre will host an online reading, and the Office of the European Parliament in Slovenia will host an online debate on the role of women in the fight against the virus.

The Association of Slovenia Journalists will host an online debate on female journalists in the Slovenian society and the Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Science and Arts on women’s jobs, from factories to offices.

The National Council, the upper chamber of parliament, will mark the day with a debate entitled To Be Successful and to Be Happy.

Women’s Day highlights the issue of violence against women every year. In Slovenia, legislative changes redefining rape in line with the principle that only yes means year sponsored by the government, which the 8 March Institute has also been campaigning for, are expected to bring positive changes.

Recently, a debate on violence against women was sparked by actor Mia Skrbinac speaking up about sexual harassment at the Ljubljana Academy of Theatre, Radio, Film and Television.

The United Nations began celebrating 8 March as Woman’s Day in 1977 to commemorate the day when women working in the textile industry in New York staged a protest against inhumane working conditions and low pay in 1857.