PEP researchers in Serbia hold national conference to highlight how austerity measures exacerbate the gender pay gap

February 11, 2019 | Belgrade, Serbia

A team of local PEP researchers held a national policy conference to discuss how Serbia’s austerity measures exacerbate labour market gender inequality.

February 11, 2019 - A team of local PEP researchers held a national policy conference in Belgrade, Serbia, to discuss their findings on how the country’s austerity measures exacerbate labour market gender inequality.

The event attracted 45 stakeholders, including Nina Mitić, the Assistant Minister for the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs: Sector for Anti-Discrimination Policy and Improvement of Gender Equality, who opened the event. 

In presenting the findings from their PEP study on the Serbia's gender pay gap in times of austerity, selected under the PAGE II initiative in 2017, the research team shed light on how Serbia’s austerity measures applied to the public sector caused an increase in the gender wage gap. 

The state sector, which is female-dominated, fully complied with the reform but male-dominated sub-sectors (such as state-owned enterprises) did not fully comply, exacerbating the gender pay gap. Additionally, the measures “pushed younger women into unemployment and women close to retirement age into inactivity,” said Jelena Žarković Rakić, leader of the PEP research team and the Director of FREN. These factors mean that “although they have the same level of education and years of work experience, [women] earn about 12% less than men,” she explained.

The team called for improved monitoring systems to ensure compliance as well as gender-sensitive analyses to be conducted before new policy measures are introduced. Find out more about the team’s research methods, findings, and policy recommendations in PEP Policy Brief 186.

Mitić stated her agreement with the necessity for gender analysis before public policy implementation. “Unemployment and gender inequality in the labour market are crucial issues for the Ministry of Labour,” she said, “Women are still exposed to discrimination … social norms, traditional attitudes and stereotypes limit the progression of women in society and the labour market.” She also stated that starting in March 2019, public enterprises will have to submit reports on the number of employees by gender.

Borjana Perunici, a senior advisor for the Protector of Citizens – Ombudsman of Serbia agreed that the current fiscal consolidation measures were introduced without considering the impact on women. She explained that as well as increasing the gender pay gap, the measures have led to an insufficient number of social workers to prevent and respond to violence against women.

Two journalists reported from the event with their articles shared widely in the print and web media.


The research team organized the event with support from PEP and in collaboration with Foundation for the Advancement of Economics (FREN) and the UN Women Programme Office, Serbia. It was hosted at UN House.

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