Zagreb - The parliament speakers of the Council of Europe member-countries on Friday condemned sexism, harassment and hate speech against women politicians, with Croatian Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković saying that stronger gender equality required changes in the education system and mentality.
Jandroković was speaking at a conference of the Council of Europe member-countries' parliament speakers taking place in Strasbourg.
The Council of Europe and the Inter-Parliamentary Union last year published a study on sexism, harassment and violence against women in European parliaments. Of the 123 female members of parliament or members of parliamentary staff covered by the study, as many as 85% said that they had been exposed to psychological violence and nearly 47% said they had received death threats or had been threatened with rape or beating.
As many as 68% were targeted over their physical appearance, and female members of parliament who were active in the fight against gender inequality and violence against women were frequently harassed.
Serbian Parliament Speaker Maja Gojković said that the responsibility rested not only with politicians but also with the media.
"The media often write more about what we wear than about our results," she warned.
In the parliaments of the Council of Europe member-states only 26% of deputies are women, which is far from the goal set in the UN Agenda 2030, under which there should be 50% of male and female deputies each.
Croatia has good laws, mentality requires change
Speaking to Croatian reporters in Strasbourg, Croatian Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković said that Croatia's legislation on gender equality was good but that on its own, it was not sufficient to encourage more women to become politically active.
"We have set quotas and rather good laws that guarantee women a good status. However, it is very important to change the mentality of people not only in Croatia but all other member states in order to strengthen gender equality and tolerance," he said, noting that the Croatian parliament was not free of harassment and hate speech against women politicians either.
Speaking generally about the status of women in Croatia, he said that changes were necessary in the education system.
"Apart from acquiring knowledge, school children should be prepared for life and taught about universal, lasting values, one of which is the equality of men and women," he said.
Addressing the conference of the Council of Europe member-states' parliamentary speakers, Jandroković said that it was up to all social stakeholders, notably politicians and other public figures and the media, to relay messages that do not discriminate against anyone and that contribute to a social atmosphere that discourages hate and intolerance.
The conference of the parliamentary speakers of the Council of Europe member-countries has been held every other year since 1975.
It brings together the parliamentary speakers of the Council of Europe's 47 member-counties and its associate members are the parliaments of Central Asia and the Maghreb countries.