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Women’s Representation and Participation in the Modern Business World – the Example of the Republic of Serbia

Women’s Representation and Participation in the Modern Business World – the Example of the Republic of Serbia

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The participation of women in business is not only a matter of gender equality and social justice but is also a crucial prerequisite for sustainable economic growth and social progress, particularly in the face of the multiple challenges that humanity is currently confronting. The inclusion of women in business reduces unemployment and ensures greater economic growth, which is of particular importance for countries in transition, such as the Republic of Serbia.

The latest data published by the Serbian Business Registers Agency indicate a positive trend in the representation of women in business entities over the past few years. However, the representation of women compared to men among entrepreneurs is only 33.70%, while women make up only 25.80% of shareholders of companies. Despite progress being made, the good news is not nearly enough – there is still a considerable gender gap in the representation of women in management positions. Consequently, the availability of financial instruments and business opportunities remains greater for male directors than for female directors, with women often being relegated to executor roles rather than decision-making positions.

The World Bank’s seventh annual survey, “Women, Business and Law 2023”, which measures the index of reforms in economic and social gender equality in 190 countries worldwide, shows that Serbia is relatively well positioned compared to other countries, having achieved results comparable to some of the most developed countries in the world concerning business egalitarianism. This is reflected in the data on the number of companies led by women, where the representation of women in company ownership in Serbia is almost at the level of the world average and Europe (33%), with South America (50%) and East Asia and Oceania (47%) being the most notable regions globally.

However, there is still significant room for improvement, especially considering that women in Serbia graduate from universities at a higher percentage than men, participate more in the labor market, and constitute a substantial portion of the overall demographic picture.

Female entrepreneurship is regarded as a crucial economic potential, necessitating constant encouragement of women to start their own businesses and to look up to already successful businesswomen as role models. It is also vital to make good use of the financial resources and incentives that the state makes available to women entrepreneurs.

However, to further reduce the gender gap, a collaborative effort among all stakeholders is required, including the state, companies, politics, media, and women themselves. Amending relevant acts in this field would establish accurate statistics in the economy and public administration and provide the necessary support measures and education needed to achieve a society that values men and women equally. One thing is certain – there is still a lot to be done.

By Aleksa Bosnjovic, Senior Associate, Milica Mihajilica Trainee, SOG Law Firm