In the words of Sonja Lokar: “If there are so few women in politics, who will put on the agenda the priorities that affect women’s lives?”

Sonja Lokar is the Executive Director of the Central and Eastern European Network for Gender Issues and has worked with women activists across all social, ethnic, religious and political divides in 21 countries. She has been a political activist from her youth and is a specialist in political party development, social welfare state issues, and gender issues. She is a feminist and an advocate for women’s human rights in Slovenia and internationally. Lokar recently spoke at the Regional Conference "Parliamentarians for gender equality and women's empowerment," organized by UN Women, UNDP, and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) with the support of the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova and in partnership with the Government of Sweden.

Date: Friday, October 13, 2017

Sonya Lokar. Photo: UN Moldova/Eduard Bizgu
Sonya Lokar. Photo: UN Moldova/Eduard Bizgu

When I was young, I lived in a socialist country, the former socialist Yugoslavia, and gender equality was a respected value in politics. So, for me it felt right that men and women should be equal. I started to advocate for gender equality when my country became a parliamentarian democracy with market economy. It was then I realized that the rights of women might come under a big question mark.

I also started to view equality as an economic issue, in the sense that all people should have a roof on their heads, have enough to eat, have the right to go to school, have the right to get health services when they need. All of this is connected with how much money you have and for women who always earn less money, who always have less opportunities, this becomes a problem.

Since I was young, gender equality for me has always been an issue of social justice… I think states undermine women’s economic independence by offering teachers, nurses, and all public servants such low wages that they can barely survive on.”

Read the full story on UN Women's website for Europe and Central Asia