Lithuania

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Gender-political situation in Lithuania

Contents:

Legal situation:

Actors:

Scientific institutions and sources:

 

Brief description and evaluation
As in other post-Communist countries, the democratisation process in Lithuania did not lead to a fundamental or far-reaching strengthening of the role of women in politics. Since the elections in 2009, barely 1/5 of the members of parliament (the Seimas) are women. Prior to this time, the number of women in the Seimas was even 4% higher.

Women do hold high, political office in individual cases, however. It would be wrong at this juncture to believe that this has occurred as a result of targeted equality policy measures being carried out in Lithuania. As of 17th May 2009, Dalia Grybauskaite has been Lithuania’s new president. She is an independent and advocates a strengthening of worldwide women’s rights, for example before the UN. Since 17th September 2009, Irena Degutiené has been the parliamentary speaker. She is a member of the Fatherland Union, which belongs to one of the largest parliamentary groups in the Seimas: the right-wing conservative-liberals.

Sources:

The current political debate revolves around how to combat the global economic and financial crisis at national level. In this regard, the issues of employment and social security take centre stage. Family policy is also increasingly becoming a core political issue. The individual concerns of women take a backseat to the overriding goal of developing the country.

In Lithuania, there is a strict division between “the role” of women and “the role” of men. Society is shaped by culture and perpetuating patriarchy (Catholic), with a few women mavericks in the political and business communities, however. The stereotypes “female” and “male” are deeply entrenched. For example, Lithuanians see motherhood as a major goal.

Sources:

The most important equality policy goal is to change and eliminate the role stereotype mindset of the Lithuanian population. CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women), adopted by the UN and the EU, calls unequivocally for gender awareness and information campaigns. Government institutions have been led to support all official agencies and NGOs in achieving the above-mentioned goals. The European legislation framework is reflected, among other things, in the National Roadmap for Equality between Women and Men and the “National Programme of Equal Opportunities for Women and Men of 2010-2014”.

Sources:

Republic of Lithuania: Questionnaire on the achievement of MDGs addressed to Governments by the Independent Expert (Word file, 11 pages)

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Legal situation

Gender equality law
The key steps towards achieving the institutional entrenchment of equal opportunities for women and men were the creation of the post of a women’s representative in 1994, the establishment of the standing parliamentary commission for the family and children in 1996, and the introduction of the parliamentary women’s group in 1997. Since 2001, the Ministry of Social Security and Labour has been charged with the task of implementing the equality of men and women under law.

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Content of the development and implementation of laws
Brief appraisal of the current developments

The formal implementation of the European gender equality directives is deemed to be satisfactory at national level. The country’s labour law traditionally contains numerous guarantees for women and for people with children. Generally speaking, Lithuania’s legislator is trying to keep pace with the developments taking place at European level. They do not block the passing of new legislative initiatives put forward by the Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson or the Ministry of Social Security and Labour. The problem, however, lies in the fact that non-discrimination regulations are not implemented in the workplace. To date, not one case has gone before court. Employees, trade unions and even jurists shy away from applying the powerful legal instruments. Government initiatives and those of the social partners come up short in terms of advancing the actual enforcement of equality rights. The activities of the NGOs are piecemeal and usually limited to surveys and publicity campaigns.

Source:

1998: ratification of the “Act on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men”.
1999: establishment of the office of an ombudsperson. This agency was vested with extensive administrative powers.
2010 saw repeated, massive public expenditure cuts, however. These also affected the Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson. Its budget was cut from approx. EUR 405,000 (LTL. 1.4 m) to approx. EUR 209,000 (LTL 1.0 m). The funds allotted to employee salaries were cut from EUR 205,000 (LTL 712,000) to approx, EUR 170,000 (LTL 584,000).

The cuts were preceded by discussions in Lithuania lasting several months on whether to close the national offices of ombudspersons for cost reasons. However, the Human Rights Committee of Parliament rejected the merger of the Office of Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson with other offices of ombudspersons. The members of the parliamentary committee were of the opinion that the tasks and powers of the Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson were especially important and therefore resolved not to change the institutional framework of this office. A decision was reached, however, to reduce the number of ombudspersons responsible for supervising the activities of the government agencies. This is clearly reflected in the above-mentioned cuts in personnel costs.

Coinciding with this, the responsibilities of this Office of the Ombudsperson were extended successively from 2006 onwards. In 2005, the Office was commissioned to monitor the implementation of all anti-discrimination regulations, with the areas of nationality, social origin and language being added in 2008. The appropriated funds are far from sufficient to properly fulfil the tasks of the Office of the Ombudsperson and to fund other projects.

Generally speaking, the number of complaints has risen, though those relating to gender equality have remained about the same. There was a huge rise in new types of complaints.

Source:

Gender mainstreaming in Lithuania is anchored in the country’s Equal Opportunities Act. Article 3 of the Act contains obligations on the part of governmental institutions and public administration to implement the same rights for women and men in every area, based on their competencies. Articles 4 and 5 contain obligations for employees as well as education and academic institutes to implement equal opportunities for women and men.

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Government institutions and mergers

Ministry of Social Security and Labour
The Ministry of Social Security and Labour was restructured in the years 2008/2009 and 2010, which had a negative impact on gender equality policies.

An evaluation of the organisational chart in the years 2008/2009 and 2010 led to the following changes: the once self-contained department “Equal Opportunities and Social Integration”, which also housed the sub-departments “Equal Opportunities”, “Gender Equality” and “Social Work”, were largely dissolved. Only the sub-department “Equal Opportunities” has remained and is now under the self-contained department “Social Inclusion and Communities”. Among others, a new department “Family Welfare” has been added, which has the same status as the above-mentioned department and is run by a deputy minister. The issues addressed include family life, children’s rights, equal opportunities and gender equality.

It is plain to see that gender equality has been pushed to one side. By contrast, the family has become increasingly institutionalised on the political stage.

The Ministry of Social Security and Labour publishes an annual report. The report provides readers with labour-related information and the main areas of work of this Lithuanian ministry. The Equal Opportunities and Social Integration chapter of the 2008-2009 report concentrates on including people with disabilities into society. Gender equality is not a focal issue of this chapter either. On the contrary, this 11-page chapter is preceded by almost 30 pages on family policy.

Sources:

With regard to gender equality/equal treatment of women and men, the aims and functions of the Ministry of Social Security and Labour are to implement national equal opportunities and gender equity policies.

Specifically in the field of equal opportunities:
- Analysis of the incidence, causes and consequences of discrimination
  of specific social groups on the labour market and in the field of social security
  as well as measures to eliminate discrimination
- Safeguarding of equal opportunities in all areas of the ministry

Specifically in the field of gender equity:
- Coordination of the implementation of gender equality policies in every
  area
- Safeguarding of gender equity in every area of the ministry
- Coordination of the implementation of measures to reduce violence against women,
  organisation of help for victims of domestic violence against women, and
  human trafficking

Source:

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The Women’s Parliamentary Group
The Women’s Parliamentary Group no longer exists on the official website of the new government. Elsewhere, no current results can be found in Lithuania under this name. This would indicate that this group and this space for women have ceased to exist in 2010.

Source:

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Statistics
The Ministry of Social Security and Labour has its own statistics department.

There is just one overview page displaying a single gender-sensitive statistic: that of the employment rate of women and men. In the 2nd quarter of 2010, the rates were 57.9% and 55.5% respectively.

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Lithuania’s Department of Statistics
Lithuania's department of statistics: Gender-sensitive evaluations are few and far between. There is one more recent evaluation from 2010 of the public health system and one of labour statistics. However, these figures date back to the year 2000 (!).

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Laws on quotas, above all in the political and economic fields.
On the initiative of the Ministry of Social Security, measures and directives are prepared with a view to integrating women into local politics.

The social-democratic party LSDP is the only party to have a 20% quota for women.

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Other laws/statutory regulations + government programmes
A resolution passed by the Lithuanian government on 4th May 2010 approved a new national programme of equal opportunities for women and men from 2010 to 2014.

The aim of this programme is to advance gender equality issues in every area consistently, holistically and systematically, to safeguard gender mainstreaming and, in particular, to identify and resolve problems facing women and men. Among the keywords are: increasing the participation/access of women to education and work, equal pay for women and men, and addressing stereotypes. The new programme focuses heavily on economic aspects as it seeks to create incentives for every potential employee. The main content is: the promotion of self-employment among women as well as the work-life balance, in short: women as a potential economic resource.

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Current political discourse
Among the challenges facing the Kubilius government are overcoming the economic and financial crisis, preparing reforms in the fields of social policy, health, raising children and administration, all of which entails enormous political effort. In all of these, gender aspects play a highly marginal role.

The current right-wing conservative-liberal government developed an anti-crisis plan for the following seven areas: public administration, combating corruption, economic innovations, energy, education system, health and a reduction of social exclusion.

In this programme, the family is afforded its own extensive chapter. The family is seen as a fundamental component of Lithuanian society. In an attempt to obviate national erosion, a long-term goal was formulated to increase the size of the population from its current 2.8 million inhabitants (approximately) to 4 million by the year 2050. Another aim is to raise awareness for family values, with women also being encouraged to become pregnant and raise children. Mothers and fathers who conceive twins or more children receive special state allowances.

Dedicated, pro-active gender equality concepts are not included in the government programme, merely support for the national programmes in the fight against gender-based discrimination and on other grounds in the areas of society and labour. Keyword: social exclusion.

Source:

Whilst the recommendations of the UN and the EU follow up on this, the trend in the country clearly leans towards preserving the gender role models.

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Actors

NGOs: Political parties, civil society organisations
Women's Issues Information Center (WIIC):
Established in 1996, the Information Center is an NGO and receives funding from the United Nations Development Programme in Lithuania. One reason for establishing the Information Center was the lack of an organisation which addressed women-specific issues and served as an umbrella organisation for others. The Center works with other NGOs, the government, as well as international organisations to develop a gender-sensitive perspective and also to see these taken on board in every field of politics. At the same time, the WIIC plays a vital role in broaching women’s issues in a political, social and economic context.

However, it is very difficult to navigate through the website. Useful links, for example those to NGOs arranged by their field of work, can only be found by chance and appear to be out of date, however. Contact details of NGOs are posted which have virtually no presence on the Net (website). The following organisations can be found on the Internet, though the English section is frequently less than comprehensive.

Contact
Jakoto 9 kab. 303 / 315
Tel: + 370 2 629 003
Fax: + 370 2 629 050
E-mail: wiic@undp.lt
Database: women's NGOs database

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Trade unions
Lithuanian Trade Union Confederation (LPSK):
The LPSK Women’s Centre is part of the Lithuanian Trade Union Confederation (LPSK). It was established on 12th June 2002 with the aim of coordinating the activities of the affiliated women’s organisations. Its goals are to network women, to lobby for the rights of women at work, in society, politics and the family, and to counteract discrimination and sexual abuse. The services offered by this trade union confederation include: training courses, advice and consultation, and information.

Contact:
Chairperson - Irena Petraitiene
Tel.: 00 370 686 41625
Tel.:/Fax: 00 370 5 2496142
E-mail: women@lpsk.lt

Vice-Chairperson - Regina Vingriene
Tel.: 00 370 640 31959
Tel.: 00 370 5 2133562
Fax: 00 370 5 2619119 

Lithuanian Trade Union Solidarumas (LPS):
The Lithuanian Trade Union Solidarumas (LPS) also has its own women’s group. Unfortunately, the English version of the website is not up to date. The women’s group can be accessed under “Moterys”, however.

Contact:
K. Kalinausko g. - 2B, LT-03107 Vilnius
Tel.: 860332162
E-mail: solidarumas.moterys@gmail.com

Lithuanian Labour Federation (LDF):
The Christian Lithuanian Labour Federation (LDF) also has a Women Committee. Its priorities lie in creating equal opportunities for women and men on the labour market and addressing stereotypes. Specifically, the Women Committee lobbies for, among other things, a work-life balance, qualifications for women and against the discrimination of women in the workplace.

Contact:
Women Committee of LDF
Chairperson: Daiva Pagiryte
Tel.: +370 5 2780265
E-mail: d.pagiryte@vpb.lt

Kaunas District Women Crisis Center:
Kaunas District Women Crisis Center is an independent non-governmental organisation which provides social services to women and their family members who find themselves in critical situations, which protects them and helps women to deal with violence. 

Social Innovation Fund:
The Social Innovation Fund sees unemployment among women as a core social problem in Lithuania and searches for active actors in this field in order to resolve this problem locally and internationally. One of its main tasks is to install a database with possible solutions to this problem.

Lithuanian Centre for Human Rights:
Gedimino 27/2
2600 Vilnius
Tel: (370 2) 628858
Fax: (370 2) 628960
E-mail: LCHR@post.omnitel.net
(currently only available in Lithuanian; the content on the English version dates back to 2008)

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Government, ministries
Ministry of Social Security and Labour:
This website is completely available in English. It contains important information on the ministry’s policies and strategies. Gender equality is not mentioned anywhere. Only four links to governmental institutions and NGOs have been posted.

Downloading the annual report is helpful.

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Other gender actors?
European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE):
“EIGE is a European agency which supports the Member States and the European institutions (especially the Commission) in their efforts to promote gender equality, to fight discrimination based on sex and to raise public awareness about gender equality issues.

Its tasks are to collect and analyse comparable data on gender issues, to develop methodological tools, in particular for the integration of the gender equality dimension in all policy areas, to facilitate the exchange of best practices and dialogue among stakeholders, and to raise awareness among EU citizens.

The Institute’s bodies include a Management Board (decision-making body), an Experts’ Forum (consultative body) and a Director (executive body) and her staff. The Management Board adopts the annual and medium-term work programmes as well as the Institute’s budget. The Experts’ Forum supports the Director in ensuring the excellence and independence of the Institute. The Director as the legal representative of the Institute is responsible for its daily management as well as for the implementation of the work programme.

The Institute’s budget for the period 2007-2013 amounts to €52.5 million.

Contact:
European Institute for Gender Equality
Švitrigailos g. 11M,
LT-03228 Vilnius
The European Institute for Gender Equality on the website of the European Commission

CEA/GAP – Centre for Equality Advancement:

Dr. Margarita Jankauskaite (has written works on homophobia, homosexuality, gender relations in Lithuania, etc.). Project manager at the CEA, seeks to raise public awareness by pre-empting gender-based discrimination, sexual orientation, ethnic origin or disability – based on democratic and human rights values which they seek to entrench in society.
Contact:
Raugyklos str. 15-201, 01140 Vilnius, Lithuania
Tel/ Fax: +370 5 2335380
E-mail: info@gap.lt

Other links:

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Academia

Gender studies
Gender studies exist in Lithuania, as do committed professors. However, the scope of the findings and/or publications is questionable.

The Vilnius University Gender Studies Centre (GSC):
The Vilnius University Gender Studies Centre (GSC) was established in 1992. It was the first of its kind in the Baltic States. It operates as the basis for interdisciplinary academic women’s and gender research. The Centre plays an equally important role in developing gender policies in Lithuania. The fundamental goal of the GSC is to integrate gender studies into the common curriculum of the University of Lithuania. The Gender Studies Centre is financed by the University of Vilnius as well as local, international and private funding sources.

It also holds an Archive of Women’s Memories. This was founded in 2001. The aim of the Archive is to collect and document biographies of Lithuanian women. A film archive also exists.

Contact:
Didlaukio 47
08303 Vilnius
Phone: + 370 5 219 3028
Fax: + 370 5 219 30 17
E-mail: lsc@lsc.vu.lt

Citing of relevant sources
Website links have always been cited directly in context.

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Recommendations for further research

Republic of Lithuania: Questionnaire on the achievement of MDGs addressed to Governments by the Independent Expert (Word file, 11 pages) 

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This study was conducted by Tanja Berger und Pamela Dorsch and comissioned by the Gunda Werner Institute of the Heinrich Böll Foundation in 2010.


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