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Marianna Shchetkina: If you promised, you must do it 150%

A new law making season began in Belarus last week. Marianna Shchetkina, a parliamentarian, gave an interview to the CTV Channel.

Marianna Shchetkina has been in office of the vice speaker of the Council of the Republic for one year exactly. She is also the leader of the Union of Women and is the coordinator of the Sustainable Development Goals, laws, stereotypes and women, of course, were discussed during the interview.

I’m in your office for the first time. To be honest, I was hoping to see more phones here.

Marianna Shchetkina, deputy chairwoman of the Council of the Republic National Assembly of Belarus:
We work with people more. However, we have everything we need. We can contact with any representative of power, we can contact any town, and there is a phone to contact the President, the Council of Ministers.

I suppose that you don’t turn your mobile phone at night.

Marianna Shchetkina:
Under no circumstances. It should always be with you, in the day and at night. And it should always be turned on, no matter where you are. Anything can happen.

Let’s speak about discipline.

Marianna Shchetkina:
It is responsibility. If you can’t, don’t promise. If you promised, you must do it 150%. You must do it. Therefore, no one forces anyone to promise things. If you are saying to the person that you will help him, you must help him.

Do you really have that wonderful half 50/50in the Council of the Republic?

Marianna Shchetkina:
We have a very good tandem. When they say that women must be present at the level of making decisions, it is so, we are working in this direction. And if today we say that there are more than 33% of women in the parliament today, it is great.

I don’t know about Europe, but we are number one at the Eurasian arena.

Marianna Shchetkina:
Belarus holds leading positions in Europe as well. The decisions in law concerns absolutely everyone, therefore, there is no need to rush. It is necessary to give forecasts, because to adopt a law, sign it-it is not the most important. The most important thing is to give forecasts.

Your colleagues from the Lower Chamber have a small right to make a mistake.You have no such right, because you are the last filter, after you goes the signature of the President under the law.

Marianna Shchetkina:
When a law draft is brought to the Council of the Republic from the House of Representatives, the Council may either approve it or reject it. In order for it not to be rejected, we have a certain pattern: as soon as the law draft is brought to the House of Representatives, it also comes to the Council of the Republic. And our profile committees are working together. The main work is also carried out in the mid-season period. It is huge work and hard way. At time the points of view do not coincide, at times somebody lobbies his interests. A mid line should be created, so that it balances the society.

In real life there are no laws for all situations.

Marianna Shchetkina:
Of course not. There are a lot more situations than laws. When a law is adopted, it will then work and then it is seen, where it needs to be amended. At this session the law on state procurement was widely discussed. There are narrow places, they need regulating.

Have you ever come across with inefficient laws? When something is written in the law, but it does not work in practice.

Marianna Shchetkina:
The consumer protection law. Both you and I, the majority of people feel shy to say that our rights are being violated. At least once you have bought something of bad quality. How many people returned the product back? I bought such products many times.

It’s the reverse situation: There is ripe law, and there is juridical ripe society. In America they can take you to court over minor things.

Marianna Shchetkina:
We also must accept that the laws are for the people. And people write these laws. If there is such a norm in law, be kind to fulfill it. The fact that there is no time and not enough of people-it is your problem. Do it. If you can’t, it is not your job.

This is the main hall of discussions.

Marianna Shchetkina:
Yes, this is where decisions are made.

It was a reading hall of the Leninskaya Library.

Marianna Shchetkina:
Yes, a lot of thoughts are concentrated here. The parliament in Belarus is calm. Is it good or bad? What do we want to see from the parliament? If we want to see some scenes for entertainment, it is one thing, If we want to see result, it’s another thing. Discussions arise then, when people do not contact in the mid-session season. It is the main period, where there are hot debates and discussions. By coming here, every member of the Council of the Republic, every deputy of the House of Representatives must know the law draft, must know all the suggestions, all the remarks. And he must come with his own point of view, but not ask questions, which will only show that he did not work in between the sessions.

Just Like at school, when pupils come for classes without homework.

Marianna Shchetkina:
Yes, and you are trying to disrupt the lesson.

Fathers on paternity leave. Is this issue already solved?

Marianna Shchetkina:
No, it is being considered. There were no debates. When they said that fathers or any of the relatives can be on childcare leave, about 1% of men used this right. Introducing compulsory leave is now being discussed in the society and the Labor Ministry, the National Assembly on gender policy. Or like in some states, if a father doesn’t go on a leave, the benefits are cut down. However, there should be a right as this. But it is not our approach. It would be good for it to be motivated, so that fathers want it themselves. There should be this right. First of all, there should be equal rights in a family. Secondly, I get acquainted with fathers with great pleasure who want to spend more time with their children. It can only be praised. Just look how many fathers are walking with prams without mothers today.

Is it because Belarusian women are more emancipated?

Marianna Shchetkina:
Probably, they have become more responsible towards the relations in the family, they have a more civilized thinking about this, they have dropped out some stereotypes, that men shouldn’t be in the kitchen, and women can’t fix cars or mustn’t drive.

I think that it was you who gave an example of the European Bank, which differentially gives loans depending on the social responsibility of a bank. It would be good for us as well.

Marianna Shchetkina:
We will be discussing it. I made an example of the saving bank of Sweden, which has launch a separate program for the support of women’s entrepreneurship- privileged loans for opening feminine business. However, this privilege was determined depending on the social importance of the project. There was a special committee, which estimated it. The privilege might not be big, but it is good. The development of women’s entrepreneurship is harder men’s business; therefore, women must be supported when setting up a business. Not all the time, but to give a possibility to open the business, to develop for one year or two. And then they will be doing the business on their own.

Marianna Shchetkina: If you promised, you must do it 150%