The struggle for women’s human rights does not end; it only seeks new forms of organisation

December 6, 2023


Podgorica, 6 December, 2023 – The number of women in politics over the past 80 years, especially since the introduction of multi-party systems, imposes the imperative for new forms of association and organized responses to regressive processes on Montenegrin society. The process of realizing women’s political rights does not conclude with gaining the right to vote; rather, it is just the beginning. Both then and now, women in politics face numerous challenges that hinder them from exercising their political rights in an adequate manner.

This was conveyed at the event “Political journey of women from obtaining the right to vote” within the Gender Equality Talks, where a comprehensive UNDP study on the political participation of women in the Parliament and the Government was presented.

In the first elections after women were granted the right to vote in 1946, 107 members of parliament were elected, among whom were only three women, or 2.8% – Lidija Jovanović, Dobrila Ojdanić, and Draginja Vušović. It was only after 13 years, in 1958, that a woman, Vukosava Mićunović, was elected to the executive power in Montenegro. Twenty years after the first, Montenegro got its second female minister in history, Olga Perović. 

From 1990 to 2001, in no parliamentary term, did the representation of women exceed 7%.

In the first elections after the introduction of quotas in 2014, during the mandate period from 2016 to 2020, there were 19 women in the parliament, or 23.5%. The number of women in the last year of the term increased to 29.6%, which is the highest percentage of women in the Montenegrin Parliament since the introduction of multi-party systems.

From 1946 to today, only 26 women have been members of the government in Montenegro. In the same period, a total of 2319 parliamentarians were elected to the Parliament, of which 245 were women, or 10.56%.

This means that if we were to gather all the women who have been parliamentarians since the introduction of multi-party systems until today, we would not be able to fill a single parliamentary term with 81 parliamentary seats.


Reflecting on the historical context and the beginning of women’s conquest of the political space, panellists emphasized that public discourse imposes a false narrative that women have been granted rights, rather than highlighting that they have fought for and earned them over decades. Just as more than 100,000 women actively participated alongside men in liberating the country, with 25,000 giving their lives for that struggle, women in the post-war period, through activist engagement and solidarity, transcended territorial boundaries and gave lessons on human rights.

The panel emphasized that there would be no anti-fascist movement without women, and thus, it is precisely women who must say “no” to new forms of fascism and regressive processes, the disregard for the rule of law and democratic procedures. This, as concluded, is the contemporary Women’s Antifascist Front (AFŽ).

The panel in the Parliament brought together former and current parliamentarians, ministers, representatives of international organizations, embassies, the civil sector, and state institutions. This occasion, as evaluated, demonstrated the need for strong female cohesion and new female leaders, mentors, and role models among politicians who will inspire and encourage new generations to actively engage in politics, not be afraid, and not give up.

The discussion on gender equality and women’s rights, as emphasized, must not be limited to the parliamentary chamber but must take place on the streets, with citizens because the numbers do not truly reflect the state of the fight and the results of the fight for women’s rights.

Women in Montenegro constitute the majority of the population, yet they are the only majority in the country for whose political participation minority mechanisms had to be introduced. Even that was not enough to achieve the legally guaranteed minimum. Therefore, it was emphasized today that, after 80 years of struggle, the demand should not be a quota of 30% or 40%, but what is a democratic civilization achievement – gender equality and parity at a level of 50%.

Speakers at the event included Zdenka Popović, Vice President of the Parliament of Montenegro, Sonja Lokar, international expert on gender equality, Branimir Jukić, Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina to Montenegro, Tamara Vujović, Minister of Culture and Media, Balša Božović, President of the Executive Board of the Regional Academy for Democratic Development, Snežana Jonica, researcher and former parliamentarian, Marija Blagojević, gender equality expert at UNDP, Kaća Đuričković, leader of the UNDP Gender Equality Team, Zlatko Vujović, professor at the Faculty of Political Science, Ekaterina Paniklova, UNDP Resident Representative in Montenegro, Judy Rising Reinke, U.S. Ambassador to Montenegro, Nada Drobnjak, activist and former president of the Committee for Gender Equality, Maja Vukićević, parliamentarian and Vice President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Liselotte Isaksson, Deputy Head of the Cooperation Sector in the EU Delegation, and many other prominent and respected interlocutors.

The event was organized by UNDP in cooperation with the embassies of the Czech Republic and Austria in Montenegro, the European Union Delegation, the Parliament of Montenegro, the Department for Gender Equality Affairs of the Ministry for Human and Minority Rights, and civil society.