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13 questions to the candidates for Parliament of the Lithuanian Republic

Many signs witness considerable discrepancy between the formal and actual gender equality, despite advancements in law. The increasing gap between sexes in labor market brings forth disparity in the average rates of pay for men and women, as well as feminization of poverty. There are numerous violations of human rights: domestic violence, trafficking in people, sexual abuse. Women are not warranted an equal representation in taking political and social decisions. On the other hand, men as a social group take little part in family life because the state has no clear vision of well-coordinated professional and family life, and that has a detrimental effect both on the quality of men and women’s life, and on the future of children.

Therefore people who seek to be elected to the Seimas of Lithuanian Republic should answer the following questions:
1. The implementation of the principle „equal pay for equal work” causes serious concern as the average rate of pay for women in Lithuania makes up only 81,2 per cent of the average rate of pay for men. How are you going to eliminate this discrimination?

2. In foreign countries, it is the private sector that causes most concern in the implementation of the principle „equal pay for equal work”. In Lithuania, we have a paradoxical situation: the average pay rate for women in the public sector, where pay rates are larger than in the private business, is 6,3 per cent lower than in the private sector and constitutes only 74,9 per cent as compared to men’s pay rates. What do you intend to do in order to eliminate this imbalance?

3. Labor market segregation (a strict division into ostensibly masculine and feminine jobs that causes disparity in the income rates for women and men) remains strong. How do you intend to promote the development of a gender-balanced labor market?

4. Managerial positions in all spheres of activities – even traditionally feminine – are more often occupied by men, though statistically women are better educated than men. What steps are you going to take in order to eliminate vertical discrimination of women?

5. In 2002, women’s employment in agriculture constituted 41,1 per cent. 64,3 per cent claimed that they depend on state support. Women occupy about 40 per cent of managerial positions in small and medium-sized business. How are you going to promote small business? What steps are you going to take to increase women’s employment in agriculture and their enterprise?

6. Women constitute 53,3 per cent of Lithuanian population. But they make up only 10.6 per cent of the Seimas and 21 per cent of municipal boards. What positive means do you intend to take in order to ensure political representation of women? What do you think of the quotas?

7. Margaret Thatcher once said that „in politics, if you want something said, address a man, and if you want something done, address a woman”. How are you going to seek balance between talking and doing in politics?

8. There is no positive policy promoting balance between professional and family life for men and women in Lithuania. Therefore a man’s ties with his children and family are weakened, the integration/reintegration of a woman into labor market is made harder and socially unacceptable labor market segregation is formed. Would you support law amendments that would oblige men to take a part of the baby break (it would lead to a more balanced participation of men and women in professional and family life)? How would you propose to tackle baby break pay issues?

9. After Lithuania has become a member of the European Union, the fate of Lithuanian textile industry causes considerable concern as women make up the absolute majority of its workers. What steps should be taken to stop the feminization of poverty in Lithuania?

10. The number of HIV positive women that were infected through sexual intercourse is increasing. Will you support sexual education as a preventive measure against AIDS?

11. Should contraception be financially affordable to women on small income? Are you going to encourage special attention to women’s reproductive health in rural areas?

12. Violence is one of the most brutal breaches of human rights. Public surveys show that more than 42 per cent of Lithuanian women (and their children) fall victims to domestic violence and abuse. Alas, it is the woman and her children who are forced to leave their home and seek shelter, not the violator. During the last tenure the Seimas’ Committee on Legal Affairs did not approve the changes and supplements to the Lithuanian Republic’s Criminal Code that had to bind the violator to live separately from the victim. What steps are you going to take in order to harness violence against women and children?

13. The rate of trafficking in girls and women in Lithuania is much higher than in the neighboring Baltic countries. But Lithuanian mass media is brimming with erotically objectified images of women; their bodies are identified with goods that can be easily acquired. Surveys show that in our culture women are clearly seen sexually but are invisible socially. What measures would you propose in order to ensure equal representation of sexes in mass media and to preclude the derogation of woman’s image in public?

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