Kvinna till Kvinna in North Macedonia
Why we work in North Macedonia
In North Macedonia, there is long-standing tension between ethnic Albanians and ethnic Macedonians. The two groups live mainly in different regions, speak different languages and go to different schools. This division slows down necessary change – including on gender equality.
Politics are male-dominated. Many women do not vote, and at the municipal level of government, only 6 out of 81 Mayors are women, which accounts for only 7% of Mayoral positions in the country. Yet there are some successes: today, quota reserve 40% of parliamentary seats for the least-represented gender, and since 2018, the number of women MPs within the National Assembly has increased from 45 (out of 120) to 48 in 2019. In March of 2019, the Parliament adopted a new anti-discrimination law, which includes protection against discrimination on the grounds of gender, gender identity and sexual orientation. This law had been strongly advocated by civil society organisations, including Kvinna till Kvinna’s partner organisations.
North Macedonia has several laws on gender equality but allocates almost no resources to their implementation. Civil society is often expected to shoulder that burden. Gender-based violence is widespread. Despite a law against domestic violence, few measures are taken to protect women. One in three women experience sexual harassment in their lifetime from the age of fifteen, but public support for victims/survivors is low, and rates of reporting the violence are even lower.
Up to a third of citizens live in poverty and unemployment is high. Current labour laws protect discrimination on the grounds of gender, but the evidence of a significant gender wage gap implies that these provisions are not being implemented correctly.
Health care is another concern. Traditional values affect how sexual and reproductive health and rights are dealt with. Roma women in particular are often at-risk of being denied care because, according to Minority Rights Group International, they face the most physical and financial barriers to accessing gynaecological healthcare.
How we support women in North Macedonia
Together with our partner organisations in North Macedonia, we work to:
- Prevent gender-based violence and support victims/survivors
- Increase the political participation of women and encourage them to vote
- Improve inter-ethnic relations in communities
- Create safe meeting spaces for women and girls from different ethnic groups
- Improve women’s access to health care
- Provide policymakers with data on gender equality
- Advocate for full implementation of equality laws, and include a gender perspective in all legislation
Our work in North Macedonia is conducted from our office in Skopje.