Photo: Maja Janevska Ilieva

Kvinna till Kvinna in North Macedonia

Kvinna till Kvinna has supported women’s rights in North Macedonia since 1999. Recent political changes provided new opportunities for women’s rights organisations to influence North Macedonia’s EU accession agenda. Still, the government takes too little responsibility for advancing gender equality. Ethnic tensions also continue to simmer in society. Our partners prevent gender-based violence, increase women’s political participation and support youth in peacebuilding.

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.

Goodwill ambassador Fanna Ndow Norrby visiting Shuto Orizari, one of the ten municipalities that make up the City of Skopje, the capital of the Republic of North Macedonia. Photo: Maja Janevska Ilieva
Goodwill ambassador Fanna Ndow Norrby visiting Shuto Orizari, one of the ten municipalities that make up the City of Skopje, the capital of the Republic of North Macedonia. Photo: Maja Janevska Ilieva

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.

North Macedonian women’s rights organisations participate in the global movement One Billion Rising, against violence against women. Photo: Kvinna till Kvinna/Johanna Arkåsen

Our partner organisations in North Macedonia

  • APCPOD – Association for Persons with Cerebral Palsy and other Disabilities
  • Association for Advancement of Gender Equality, Akcija Zdruzenska – Skopje
  • Association for protection of workers’ rights GLASEN TEXTILEC – Stip
  • Coalition “Sexual and Health Rights of Marginalized Communities” – MARGINS
  • EcHO – Educational Humanitarian Organization
  • ESE – Association for Emancipation Solidarity and Equality of Women
  • Helsinki Committee for Human Rights
  • HERA – Health Education and Research Association
  • National Network to End Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence
  • Non-government organisation “KHAM”
  • Organization of Women of the Municipality of Sveti Nikole
  • Reactor – Research in Action
  • Tiiiit! Inc. – Skopje / Peach Preach

News from our partners in North Macedonia

FemDefenders 2022—“Challenging the Norms”

The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation office in North Macedonia pays tribute and celebrates women’s human rights defenders annually with the FemDefenders event.

11 January 2023

On the frontline for safe abortions

Approval in front of a hospital committee and mandatory ultrasound—just to name some examples. Dragana Karovska Chemerska knows what is at stake when abortion rights are threatened. We sat down with the Macedonian activist for a conversation about how to stand up for safe and legal abortions.

20 September 2021

The anti-gender movement—a threat to sexuality education

In recent years, the anti-gender movement has gained a foothold in North Macedonia and comprehensive sexuality education is under threat. To counteract this, the organisation HERA works to raise awareness of the importance of sexuality education.

1 June 2022

#metoo wave sweeps across the Western Balkans

Across the Western Balkans, women’s rights activists are joining forces, demanding an end to sexual violence against women. Our North Macedonia team explains why.

3 May 2021

Better sex education to stop harassment

Secret group chats, extortion and sexual violence. When the encrypted, sexist group chat ‘Public Room’ was leaked to the public, The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation's partner organisation Coalition Margins took a stand for the girls exposed by the scandal.

23 November 2020

Finally convicted after years of violence

For years, Liljana’s husband subjected his wife and daughters to violence. It was only with the support of The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation's partner organisation that he was finally held accountable.

23 November 2020