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We Are A Gender-Balanced Government: Slovenian Cabinet Minister Alenka Smerkolj, At WEF Meet

An associate of ALL Ladies League, the Women Economic Forum is a global conference to foster empowering conversations and connections among women committed to adopt constructive change in all walks of life.

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“Slovenia is the only country in the world with the word ‘love’ in its name,” said Alenka Smerkolj, Slovenian cabinet minister for development, strategic projects and cohesion, introducing her country at the 2017 Women Economic Forum in New Delhi on Monday (8 May).

Slovenia is a very small country in the European Union, let alone the world, whose population can only be compared to a suburb in New Delhi, Smerkolj said. “Even though we are very small, we are world class in many areas. We are one of the few countries which has the right to clean water engraved in our constitution, which we did last year,” the minister said.

Focusing on gender equality, she added that it is one of the forefront issues in the nation, and that the composition of their government is very “gender balanced”, where eight of the 16 ministers are women.

“Not even in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would become a politician, or a minister, but now I am very passionate about it since this is a position where in reality you can make a change happen,” Smerkolj said. She went of further stressing on the ‘happiness’ of people, which is integral for any democracy, quoting the prime minister of Bhutan that “there is no reason for the government to exist, if it cannot make the people happy”.

Upon being asked by BW Businessworld about what developing countries can do to ensure gender parity in businesses and the economy, Smerkolj said, “A lot of strength and courage is required, and the decision to make it happen. In Slovenia, we did all that a few years ago and it was not an easy process. Now, we are a gender-balanced government, 50 per cent of them being females. We also have women quotas, which is 30 per cent, but we have surpassed that in all areas.”

When asked about the importance of policy in gender parity, she said that policy is important as it helps women to get recognized. “In Slovenia, at local levels (municipalities, communities), it is still difficult for women to come forward, but slowly it’s changing, we have to start somewhere. The more you do, the better,” she said.

Smerkolj added that environment is another issue which Slovenia takes very seriously, and it is a country which is 60 per cent covered by forests, making it a “very green country”.