Girls' Education in Macedonia
The Republic of North Macedonia, commonly referred to as Macedonia, is a republic in the Balkan Peninsula. After the country’s independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, Macedonia had a tumultuous relationship with Greece. Macedonia became a U.N. member in 1993, and in 1995, Greece and Macedonia agreed to ease tensions in their relationship. After Macedonia’s 29 years of existence as a nation, girls’ education in Macedonia is coming into the spotlight as part of the country’s initiative to improve its education system. Here are 10 facts about girls’ education in Macedonia.

10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Macedonia

  1. Mandatory Education: Both primary and secondary education is mandatory in Macedonia. Primary education lasts for nine years for all children aged 6 to 15. Secondary education lasts for four years for teenagers aged 15 to 19 for both general and vocational education. General secondary education is compulsory between the ages of 6 to 19 and 6 to 17, and vocational training is compulsory for ages 17, 18 or 19.
  2. Decentralized Education System: The education system in Macedonia is decentralized. Except for the secondary schools in Skopje, the capital, Macedonia’s decentralized education system places both the administrative and financial responsibilities of public education in the hands of local governments. The national government provides financial resources for education in each municipality, and local municipality councils are responsible for distributing these resources.
  3. Roma Girls: Early marriage makes Roma girls’ education in Macedonia more challenging. The Romani people, commonly called Roma, are one of the ethnic minorities in Macedonia. In 2002, an estimated 2.7 percent of the Macedonian population was Romani. USAID reported that Roma girls are especially vulnerable to early marriages. This results in lower school-completion rates compared to other ethnic groups in Macedonia.
  4. Roma Women’s Illiteracy: Illiteracy among Roma women is high. UNICEF’s 2013 report highlighted illiteracy among Roma women as one of the key education issues in Macedonia. This Romani education issue parallels with Macedonia’s gender discrimination issues. In 2013, UNICEF stated that only 77 percent of Romani women were literate. The report attributes this to their 86 percent primary school enrollment rate.
  5. Gender and Socio-Economic Situations: Gender, socio-economic situations and race play a role in girls’ education in Macedonia. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reported that in 2011, the NAR (net attendance ratio) of Roma girls rose from 21 percent to 35 percent. This rise is still a lackluster number of enrollments compared to the 85 percent NAR of Macedonian and Albanian children. This 35 percent NAR showed that the lowest attendance was in both extremely poor and extremely wealthy families. Nearly 60 percent of Romani children did not attend secondary school. This lack of secondary education attendance is the root cause of the continuing cycle of unemployment and social exclusion.
  6. Girls in Rural Areas: USAID’s Gender Analysis Report found that 31 percent of girls in Macedonia between the ages of 14 to 15 do not continue their education after primary schooling, and this is especially in rural areas. In rural areas, 42 percent of secondary school-aged children are out of school. To remedy this, USAID recommends the Macedonian government target girls and boys in rural areas with a high population of ethnic minorities when planning their education projects.
  7. Increasing Girls’ Education: Girls’ education in Macedonia is on the rise. UNESCO’s country profile of Macedonia noted an upward trend in Macedonian children’s participation in education. True to the trend in the data, girls’ education in Macedonia is on the rise along with the general education ratio in the country. Compared to 2009, when 4,862 girls were out of school, there were only 2,927 children who were out of school in 2019.
  8. Inclusive Education: The Macedonian government is striving to improve inclusive education. Inclusive education aims to provide quality education to all children regardless of their gender, socio-economic background, disability or race. Working closely with UNICEF and the OECD, the Macedonian Ministry of Education and Science is training teachers according to the inclusive education guidelines provided by UNICEF.
  9. The Macedonian Government’s Commitment: The Macedonian government has committed itself to the improvement of access to quality pre-primary education. The Macedonian government committed to improving and expanding access to pre-primary school education in the country because around 61 percent of pre-primary aged children do not attend preschools. In April 2019, Mila Carovska, Minister of Labor and Social Policy, told UNICEF that her ministry’s budget for capital investment increased by 300 percent, which shows the Macedonian government’s commitment to the project.
  10. Girls Versus Boys: According to the OECD’s 2019 of review and assessment of North Macedonia’s education system, girls in Macedonia are outperforming boys in school. According to the report, Macedonian girls are outperforming boys by 20 score points in science and seven score points in mathematics.

While there is certainly room for improvement in girls’ education in Macedonia, it is clear that the Macedonian government is taking steps toward improving education. Girls’ education in Macedonia is not a singular issue of gender discrimination. Rather, it is a diverse issue that has its roots in socio-economic backgrounds and race of the girls in Macedonia. With the help of international groups such as OECD and UNICEF, the Macedonian government is improving the education of girls.

– YongJin Yi
Photo: Flickr

Life Expectancy in Macedonia
North Macedonia is a landlocked country in the Balkan Peninsula, home to 2.074 million people. Macedonia has struggled with poverty for many years, and while some problems still linger, citizens have been making great leaps in technology, security and medicine to increase the country’s average life expectancy.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Macedonia

  1. According to the Central Intelligence Agency, the average life expectancy in Macedonia is 75.9 years. In 2018, males lived an average of 73.8 years while females lived for around 78.2 years.
  2. In 2015, 21.5 percent of all Macedonians lived below the poverty line. Poverty has a direct link to life expectancy and one can see this all around the globe, even in the United States. In 2018, The Independent reported that U.S. citizens living below the poverty line died almost 10 years younger than the rich and found that those living in poor sectors showed a higher death rate due to illness.
  3. The main causes of death in Macedonia are stroke and heart disease, with strokes causing 23.3 percent of deaths and heart disease causing 20.5 percent of deaths in 2010. This is an almost 10 percent rise from the rate in 1990 when there was a 16.6 percent mortality rate for stroke and a 14.8 percent mortality rate for heart disease. In recent years, the Stroke Alliance for Europe (SAFE) and other health organizations have been providing free screenings to determine a patient’s risk of stroke and established four stroke units around the country in order to combat this epidemic.
  4. Deaths due to tuberculosis have decreased to less than 20 percent of the rate in 2000, dropping from five out of 100,000 citizens to one out of 100,000 citizens. The World Health Organization also reported an 88 percent success rate in tuberculosis treatment in 2016. This change is due to more efforts to provide necessary medication to those afflicted and is likely responsible for the increase of the average lifespan of Macedonian citizens.
  5. In 2018, there was a 12 percent increase in murders, a 21 percent increase in attempted murders and a 31 percent increase in acts of violence, according to the Overseas Security Advisory Council. Poverty and crime correlate, so it is likely that Macedonia’s poverty rate and crime rate are connected. While there have been improvements in quality of life, a rising crime rate, especially in violent crimes, may cause an unnecessary drop in the average Macedonian’s lifespan.
  6. UNAIDS reports that the amount of people living with HIV in Macedonia has increased from around 250 in 2013 to more than 500 in 2019. As the number of people living with HIV has increased, UNAIDS has been making efforts to increase treatment. Starting in 2010, UNAIDS has implemented antiretroviral therapy to more and more citizens as the rate of affliction has risen. Due to these efforts, UNAIDS treated over 50 percent of the afflicted population in 2018, and the amount of AIDS-related deaths per year remains under 100 to this day.
  7. Macedonia suffers from heavily polluted air. In 2018, Macedonia’s two biggest cities, Tetovo and Skopje, reported air pollution indexes of 95.57 and 83.53 respectively. In contrast, New York’s air quality index stagnates between 40-45. Macedonia’s heavily polluted air has unquestionably affected the health of its residents, causing 1,469 deaths due to respiratory illness between 2015 and 2016. Recently, people like Gorjan Jovanovski have made great strides, who is a resident of Macedonia and developed an app to protect people from the densely polluted air. Jovanovski’s app draws information from air quality measuring stations around Macedonia and reports the air quality of the users’ general area based on readings from the nearest station.
  8. The CIA reports that people use North Macedonia as a hotspot for illegal drugs like heroin and cocaine to pass through from Asia and Europe. The European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction reported that Macedonia suffered 14 drug-related deaths in 2011 and 18 in 2012. Reports also say that there were 47 cases of drug-related infectious diseases between 1987 and 2004. These diseases and deaths could be a strain on the average life expectancy in Macedonia.
  9. In 1990, UNICEF reported that the infant mortality rate in Macedonia was 36.7 deaths per 1,000 lives births, usually due to preventable diseases or injuries. In 2019, the rate is only 13.7 deaths per 1,000 live births. This steep drop in child mortality is due to the implementation of more in-depth medical practices. In 2017, 93 percent of children that supposedly had pneumonia went to a health care provider, 91 percent of all infants received three doses of DTP vaccine and 97 percent of children received a second dose of the measles vaccine.
  10. Unclean water has a direct link to the health and life expectancy of those who drink it. UNICEF estimated that, globally, 2,000 children die due to diseases that spread through unclean water sources. In 2013, the World Health Organization began an initiative to improve Macedonia’s drinking water and sanitation, after reporting that the country was disposing of most of its wastewater into its rivers and lakes. In 2015, North Macedonia reported that 99.4 percent of its citizens had access to clean drinking water.

Altogether, life expectancy in Macedonia is well within the world average. While there are still changes that the country could make, the quality of life has only gotten better in recent years. Macedonians have clean drinking water, few deaths due to AIDS and some citizens are even working to combat the pollution in the air to provide a better future for them and their country.

Charles Nettles
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in Macedonia
Macedonia is a small country, only slightly larger than the state of Vermont, located in Southeastern Europe, Balkan to be precise. Often overlooked by major world powers, Macedonia has a population of only 2.07 million but boats a rich and ancient history, similar to that of Greece. In the text below, the top 10 facts about living conditions in Macedonia are presented.

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in Macedonia

  1. Macedonia’s population includes a large minority of Romani people, also known as Roma or Gypsies. The Roma often face discrimination and underrepresentation and are often unable to get public sector positions. In 1994, the Macedonian government included the Roma language in its census, and in 1996, four primary schools included the Roma language in their curriculum. Roma representation in government improved by 0.1 percent to 0.6 percent from 2000 to 2010. After a demonstration on the streets of Skopje, the country’s capital, there are now more than 500 Roma students in universities and 50-60 young adults with a college degree.
  2. Almost 15 percent of Macedonia’s population, mostly Roman, lives without legal homes, which means that they do not have access to basic services, such as water or electricity, or even an official ID. Without an ID, these people cannot get insurance, social protection or immunization. Local organizations such as Roma SOS partner with nonprofit organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity, to help people get micro-loans and understand the legalization process.
  3. Since Macedonia gained its independence in 1991, there has been a debate with Greece over the use of the name Macedonia. In January 2019, the Macedonian parliament has approved the name change to North Macedonia and are awaiting the vote of the Greek parliament to make the name official. This name change will bring the country closer to membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). As a member of NATO, Macedonia would have assured security and further resources to improve the lives of their citizens.
  4. Five percent of Macedonian children are not attending primary school and 32 percent are not attending secondary school. Poverty often affects children’s school attendance. Thirteen percent of children in the poorest quintile do not attend primary school, compared to almost no such cases in the richest quintile. The gap increases for secondary school as 64 percent of children in the poorest quintile do not attend them, compared to only 7 percent of children in the richest quintile. However, the completion rate for primary school is high, at 74 percent, with a 98 percent transition rate to lower secondary school.
  5. In 1996, Macedonia introduced Continuous Medical Education (CME) that creates health care guidelines and equips facilities. Currently, every citizen has access to primary care through the state. However, those living illegally would not have a state issued ID, thus no state health care. The state health care system that takes taxes from all people working and living in Macedonia, provides free preventive, diagnostic and curative medical services. This includes hospitalization and consultation with specialists and doctors. The private health care system is often too expensive for the average citizen, though it can provide better or quicker treatment and more medical options.
  6. The leading causes of death in Macedonia are circulatory diseases, that made up 57 percent of all deaths in 2004, malignant neoplasm, injuries/poisoning, respiratory diseases and diseases of the endocrine system. Macedonia’s average total life expectancy is five years less than that of countries in the EU and Macedonia’s healthy life expectancy is almost eight years behind that of Greece. These differences stem from a higher rate of cardiovascular diseases caused by high tobacco use, and uncontrolled hypertension and hypercholesterolemia.
  7. Unemployment in Macedonia is at its all-time lowest, dropping from 21.1 percent in June 2018 to 20.8 percent at the end of 2018. In comparison, unemployment in Greece was at 20.20 percent in April 2018. The average monthly wage for a Macedonian worker is $667.55. While Macedonia lags behind many of the U.N. countries, the country has improved in this field since the lowest monthly wage recorded was $370.96.
  8. In 2015, 21.5 percent of Macedonian citizens were living below the poverty line which put Macedonia in 80th place in a ranking of 139 countries. Families with five or more members, or almost 48.5 percent of Macedonians, are most affected by poverty. However, Macedonia has made progress with its market economy, and as the unemployment rate lowered, it pulled the poverty level from around 31 percent in 2011 to its current rate.
  9. Food and water supply in Macedonia is relatively good, as only 4 percent of the population struggles with undernourishment and 83 percent of the drinking water supply is considered safely managed. Agriculture accounts for 13 percent of the GDP in Macedonia. The government owns most of the pastures and farmland, manages and improves them through the Law on Pastures that regulates carrying capacity, drinking pools, construction of shelters, clearing of vegetation and more.
  10. In 2011, 1.8 percent of children were under the proper weight for their height, while 4.9 percent of children were under the proper height for their age and 12.4 percent of children were overweight. The Global Nutrition Report states that Macedonia experiences two main forms of malnutrition– overweight and anemia. About 23 percent of women suffer from anemia, which is a deficiency of red blood cells in the body. Though these issues exist, Macedonia has made progress to lower the overall undernourishment from 8 percent of the population to 4 percent.

These top 10 facts about living conditions in Macedonia show that while the country faces many struggles with ethnic relations and political issues, it has also made significant progress within the last decade with improvements to health care and the economy. Macedonia has resolved its long-lasting name dispute with Greece and it is on the right track of joining NATO and EU, which will benefit all citizens of the nation.

– Natalie Dell
Photo: Flickr

International Education Programs in Macedonia
The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, or soon possibly known as Upper Macedonia, but most commonly referred to as just Macedonia, gained its independence from Yugoslavia peacefully in 1991.

Since independence, Macedonia has been trying to make a huge leap in development and join the European Union and NATO.

The biggest obstacle for the country’s EU and NATO membership has been the name dispute that arises from the ambiguity in nomenclature between the Republic of Macedonia and the adjacent Greek region of Macedonia.

However, this dispute has not stopped members of international bodies from supporting international education programs in Macedonia.

The United States and the European Union see education as an important step to both democratic and economic stability of the country.

For this reason, both bodies are sending aid in form of international education programs, while the country settles its naming dispute with Greece.

USAID

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has been supporting international education programs in Macedonia since 1993. USAID works directly with the country’s Ministry of Education and Science in order to improve education.

By improving education, USAID hopes to foster the fledgling democracy and promote inter-ethnic relations.

USAID programs have been most heavily aimed at children. From 2013 to 2018, USAID supported the Readers are Leaders Project. This project was focused on children in all primary schools across the country. Its aim was to strengthen literacy and numeracy rates among the youth.

Currently, several other projects, such as Children with Visual Impairment Project, are active. This project is run jointly with the International Lions Club. It was started in 2014 and will last to 2019. It works to increase the quality and accessibility of education services, provide individual support to children with visual impairments and facilitates early eye-screenings.

Another joint program underway is the Youth Ethnic Integration Project (2017-2022). Through this program, USAID is promoting both civic responsibility in youth but also a cultural understanding between Macedonia’s ethnic groups.

The Peace Corps

Since 1996,  when the first volunteers of this organization were welcomed by the Ministry of Education and Science, the United States Peace Corps has supported international education in Macedonia.

The Peace Corps education mission in Macedonia has been two-fold since the beginning. The first goal is to introduce new teaching methodologies to the Macedonian classroom at both the primary and secondary school levels. The second is to help with the instruction of English courses.

However, volunteers do not just stick to the classrooms for instructions of English language. They also promote and start English speaking clubs and organizations.

The Peace Corps developed English Language clubs, drama clubs and summer camps. The Peace Corps works with three Ministries of the country along with other international agencies and organizations to promote international education programs in Macedonia.

The European Union

The largest monetary contributor of development and international education programs in Macedonia is the European Union.

In 2017, the government of Macedonia and the European Union adopted a program of international development within Macedonia and signed a financial agreement.

The result is that the EU released $82.3 million worth of funds for the social and economic development of the country. These funds are only a small portion of the planned aid to Macedonia that stretches back to 2014.

The funds of EU are mostly directed towards the development of education in Macedonia. They are part of the financial assistance under IPA II agreement that totals to $757 million worth of aid to Macedonia. To ensure the funds are being used properly, the EU and Macedonia have set up joint monitoring committees to oversee their usage.

At the end of September 2018, the government of Macedonia held a referendum to change the official country’s name from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to Upper Macedonia.

By changing the name of the country the Prime Minister hopes to speed up the process of joining NATO and the EU. His opponents see this as an appeasement to bullies.

Less than 50 percent of the total population voted in the referendum making it void, although the tally of those who did vote was nearly 90 percent in favor of the name change.

A trend showed the youth overwhelmingly supported the change. It shows that the work of international organizations on international education programs in Macedonia was efficient in showing the youth what needs to be done in order to help the country move forward.

Nicholas DeMarco

Photo: Flickr

U.S. benefits from foreign aid to MacedoniaSince it gained independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, Macedonia has worked to become a stable democratic nation with a strong trade economy. Macedonia often struggles with being recognized or treated as an independent nation, a recent example being Greece’s demands for its constitutional name to be changed. Surrounded by more powerful countries, Macedonia requires steadfast support from its allies, which often comes in the form of foreign aid to help the country grow as a nation both politically and economically. The U.S. is one of these allies and has been supporting the country since it gained independence. Although America is keen on supporting countries moving towards democratic systems of government in general, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Macedonia as well.

One of the main goals of U.S. aid is to support Macedonia’s transition towards a market-oriented economy as well as its integration into the global trade economy, especially in the Euro-Atlantic. Trade between the U.S. and Macedonia in 2016 was around $276 million and is increasing every year. Electrical machinery and equipment have been the most popular U.S. exports to Macedonia, while imports from Macedonia to the U.S. focus on tobacco, apparel and metals such as iron and steel. The U.S. benefits not only from direct trade to Macedonia, but also through investment in its developing trade economy with other countries.

U.S. aid only helps to further bolster Macedonia’s improving trade economy through funding economic reforms and development, which not only improves direct trade to the U.S. but also increases the success of investments in the economy itself.

Trade is not the only improving economy in Macedonia. Recently, tourism has started to develop. Although in its infancy, contributing to 6.7 percent of the country’s GDP and employing only 1.6 percent of the country’s workers as of 2016, these numbers are expected to rise slowly but steadily. Tourism is also a very open market for foreign aid investment, with only about 2.4 percent of investment being in tourism. Considering that the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Macedonia going to other sectors, this could be yet another way to make aid more valuable to both countries by helping to better tourism in Macedonia, and in turn, providing profits for U.S. companies.

Lastly, keeping Macedonia as an ally gives the U.S. a valuable strategic partner for foreign policies and interests. Macedonia has often lent its airspace and provided troops to aid the U.S. as well as other countries in the U.N., such as for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. In general, the location of Macedonia is strategic to many of the conflicts the U.S. is involved in as well as for the stability of the region.

With a stabilizing government growing more democratic through reforms as well as a growing economy, there are many ways in which the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Macedonia financially, and with continued support, these benefits will increase for both countries. If the U.S. continues to be a dependable and helpful ally to Macedonia, it will return the favor as it has throughout its relationship by helping the U.S. and U.N. create stability in the region.

– Keegan Struble

Photo: Flickr

sustainable agriculture in Macedonia

Sustainable agriculture in Macedonia has generated major interest recently. The country’s varied and often rugged terrain means that farming can be rather unpredictable, but it also means that many farmers are eager to learn about new techniques and technologies that can make their lives easier and help to improve crop yields.

There are, of course, some obstacles to promoting sustainable agriculture in Macedonia, but they are comparatively few. The main issue is that pastureland is state-owned and tends to be in poor condition. The other major obstacle is that the vast majority of farms are relatively small, and so it is often difficult for farmers to attain economies of scale that can help them compete and save them money.

That being said, the United Nations Development Programme and other actors are taking many steps to promote sustainable agriculture in Macedonia. The high degree of international involvement has created what is essentially a multi-pronged approach.

The U.N. recently organized a series of training programs for farmers from Macedonia and other Eurasian countries to introduce them to more sustainable practices, such as selecting crops that are appropriate for the environment and relying less on wasteful irrigation practices. The training also included tips on how to save money and stay competitive in the global economy, even for very small farms.

Many of those present said that not only did they appreciate the advice they were being given, but also the chance to connect with farmers from other countries and share their experiences. Notably, some of the techniques that the farmers were trained in were actually developed by fellow attendees.

The farmers were also educated about grants and subsidies available to them if they are interested in implementing more sustainable practices. The availability of financial assistance will prove key to promoting sustainable agriculture in Macedonia, as the main obstacle for many of these farmers is the high cost of switching to some of these practices.

In addition to international actors, there are also many NGOs working to promote sustainable agriculture in Macedonia. Sustainable Agriculture for Sustainable Balkans is one such organization. Working together with the EU, it focuses primarily on collecting and distributing information that can help farmers make informed decisions about which techniques they might like to implement on their own farms.

CeProSARD is another key player promoting sustainable agriculture in Macedonia. Its mission is rural development, and in a country like Macedonia, that goes hand in hand with agriculture. In addition to funding research on best practices, CeProSARD also networks with farmers and other key stakeholders and advocates for meaningful change.

Macedonia is a good example of a country where external support can really help to promote change. The case of Macedonia demonstrates that key stakeholders are more often than not aware of an issue and want to rectify it, but may need guidance or support in order to do so. Supporting these actors is an easy way for the international community to bring about major improvements quickly and easily.

– Michaela Downey

Photo: Flickr

Economic Reforms in Macedonia Make Doing Business Easier

Unemployment remains high at about 23 percent in Macedonia, but the country maintains its macroeconomic stability. Since its 1991 independence, Macedonia has made progress in liberalizing its economy and improving its business environment. Economic reforms in Macedonia have focused on registering property, protecting minority investors and gaining credit access.

During the global financial crisis, Macedonia maintained its macroeconomic stability by practicing conservative monetary policy. Conservative monetary policy ensures that the domestic currency is pegged to the euro and that inflation remains at a low level.

Macedonia’s economic performance has been halted by internal political crises in the last two years. Gross Domestic Product (GDP), domestic private investments and public investments declined in 2016. The same year, public debt peaked at 50.5 percent of GDP before settling at 47.8 percent at the end of the year. Macedonia distributed a $495 million Eurobond to fulfill 2016 and part of 2017 budget requirements.

Doing Business, of the World Bank, evaluates economic reforms in Macedonia and their influence on the ease of doing business. According to the organization’s measures, Macedonia’s 2017 business reforms are as follows:

  • Getting Credit
    Credit access in Macedonia was strengthened by amending its laws to provide modern features for the collateral registry, to allow parties to grant nonpossessory security rights and to implement a functional secured transactions system.
  • Resolving Debt
    Macedonia made it easier to get out of debt by increasing creditors’ participation in insolvency proceedings and changing voting procedures for reorganization plans.
  • Protecting Minority Investors
    Macedonia reinforced minority investor protections by extending requirements for immediate disclosure of party transactions to the public, increasing access to corporate information during trial and expanding shareholder rights.
  • Enforcing Contracts
    Enforcing contracts has become more difficult with recent amendments to the Law on Civil Procedure that require mediation before a claim is filed. Required mediation lengthens the beginning phase of judicial proceedings.

Most of the past year’s economic reforms in Macedonia focused on registering property, getting credit and protecting minority investors. According to the World Bank, Macedonia ranks eleventh out of the region’s top ranked economies and has carried out 41 reforms, the second highest number among the top 20, over the past 15 years.

Macedonia is the only upper-middle-income economy that ranks within the top 20 economies in the overall ease of doing business. Thus, reforms in Macedonia have made it easier to do business, leading to better quality of life for citizens.

– Carolyn Gibson

Photo: Flickr

women’s empowerment in MacedoniaSince Macedonia’s independence, equal opportunity for both men and women has been at the forefront of the government agenda. In 2013, the Macedonian Women’s Rights Center organized an event, “Woman Has the Power,” to address economic discrimination and violence against women, ultimately trying to boost women’s empowerment in Macedonia. The event criticized the current economic injustices and financial insecurities that women face.

These insecurities stem out of the traditional role that men play in the Macedonian society. Women still cannot inherit property, which hinders the ability to access bank loans for businesses and entrepreneurship advances. “Woman Has the Power” introduced participants to U.N. agencies and E.U. mission representatives. In the case of successful women, this event enabled them to reach out to other women to give guidance and help.

In 2011, successful actress and movie producer Labina Mitevska, through Women Unlimited Macedonia, advocated against drug addiction, violence, corruption and prostitution in regards to women. Women Unlimited Macedonia was a platform created with the help of The Art of Living Macedonia for women to network, to discuss and gain support and to practice yoga and meditation. These efforts in individual organizations fueled government involvement and initiatives.

Implementation to create equal rights for both men and women continued in the government of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s commitment to end discrimination and violence against women. The National Strategy for Prevention and Protection against Domestic Violence, adopted by the government, focuses on domestic violence and placement of women in the social and economic sphere of society.

The National Strategy’s aim is to strengthen the capacities for courts to handle cases regarding violence against women, establish services for victims of such crimes and educate parents and children on prevention. These efforts were signed into the National Strategy for Gender Equality 2013-2020, in accordance with Step It Up for Gender Equality. The movement did not stop there to enhance women’s empowerment in Macedonia.

The International Foundation for Electoral System (IFES) works to promote women for candidacy for Parliament and local government positions. Fighting violence against women who attempt candidacy, both the IFES and the Club of Women promote the presence of women in the government. One of the significant success efforts of the Club of Women was a mandatory quota of no less than 30 percent of candidates be women running for Parliament and municipal councils.

Successes such as these provide hope for women in Macedonia. Progress is not perfect and women are still the less represented gender, but through organizations’ efforts, there is potential for improving women’s empowerment in Macedonia.

– Bronti DeRoche

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in Macedonia
Macedonia, officially called The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia by the U.N., has a population of 2.1 million. The life expectancy for men is 73 years and the life expectancy for women is 77 years. The “healthy life expectancy” in Macedonia, the number of years a person can expect to live in good health, is only 63 years. This significantly lower age is the result of common diseases in Macedonia.

The most common causes of death in Macedonia are circulatory diseases and cancer. Circulatory diseases, specifically cerebrovascular diseases and ischemic heart disease, are responsible for more than half the deaths in Macedonia, with a mortality rate of 57.2 percent. Cancer is the second most common cause of death, with a much lower mortality rate of 19.7 percent.

An important trend to notice regarding common diseases in Macedonia is that the deadliest diseases are noncommunicable. Injuries and communicable diseases also contribute to death rates, but not nearly as many deaths as noncommunicable diseases.

Public health officials in Macedonia have put emphasis on addressing circulatory diseases in Macedonia, as they have a high mortality and disability rate.

In 2007, the Ministry of Health in Macedonia adopted an extensive health strategy that outlined several plans for improving the healthcare system in Macedonia by 2020. Addressing noncommunicable diseases in Macedonia will require efforts on behalf of the government, non-governmental institutions, healthcare institutions and the citizens of Macedonia.

The strategy for reducing the morbidity, disability and premature mortality attributed to circulatory diseases will address primary, secondary and tertiary prevention. Primary prevention will include promoting healthy lifestyles that include regular exercise, proper nutrition and smoking reduction. Secondary prevention efforts include earlier detection for circulatory diseases. Tertiary prevention includes proper care and rehabilitation for patients facing these diseases.

On World Heart Day (September 29) 2013, Shaban Mehmeti, the Director of the Institute of Public Health of Macedonia, emphasized the importance of reducing the risk for cardiovascular diseases. Mehmeti pointed out that lifestyle changes can help prevent common risk factors for cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, being overweight and physical inactivity. Reducing the incidence of cardiovascular diseases will reduce healthcare costs and improve the quality of life in Macedonia.

Macedonia’s cross-sectoral approach to addressing circulatory diseases along with the multiple levels of prevention will hopefully reduce the incidence of circulatory diseases and will also serve as a framework for addressing other common diseases in Macedonia.

Christiana Lano

Photo: Flickr

Poverty Rate in MacedoniaMacedonia – also known as the Republic of Macedonia – is located in the Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. Macedonia declared independence peacefully from Yugoslavia in 1991 and has a population of 2,100,025. The country has made process in improving its economy and business environment; however, corruption and weak rule of law are still problems in Macedonia. According to the CIA, some businesses in Macedonia have complained about unequal enforcement of the law. Here are 10 facts about the poverty rate in Macedonia:

  1. The unemployment rate in Macedonia was 23.1 percent in 2016, which had decreased from 24.6 percent in 2015. Macedonia was ranked 181 on the unemployment rate list comparing other countries around the world.
  2. According to the CIA, the unemployment rate may be overstated based on the existence of an extensive gray market, estimated to be between 20 percent and 45 percent of the GDP. This part of the data was not captured by official statistics.
  3. About 21.5 percent of Macedonia’s population is below the poverty line, which means more than 450,000 Macedonia citizens are suffering from poverty.
  4. About 9.1 percent of Macedonia citizens live on less than two dollars every day, and in the past 15 years, a total of 600,000 citizens have chosen to emigrate.
  5. The richest 10 percent of the population in Macedonia control 34.5 percent of the whole country’s wealth, while the poorest 10 percent of the population only control 2.2 percent of the whole nation’s wealth.
  6. Macedonia’s low tax rates and free economic zones help to attract foreign investment; however, foreign investment is still low relative to the rest of Europe.
  7. Macedonia’s GDP was $29.52 billion in 2016, which was ranked 131 on the GDP list compared to other countries around the world. However, according to the CIA, Macedonia has a large informal sector that may not be reflected in the data.
  8. Macedonia’s economy has been affected by its internal political crisis. Macedonia’s GDP growth was 2.4 percent in 2016, while it was 3.8 percent in 2015 and 3.6 percent in 2014. In addition, both private and public investments have declined in the past year.
  9. The inflation rate was negative 0.2 percent in 2016, which was ranked 28 on the list compared to other countries around the world.
  10. In 2016, Macedonia issued a Eurobond worth about $495 million to finance budget needs of 2016 and part of 2017.

Macedonia has been making progress to create a better business environment. However, due to internal conflicts such as corruption and political problems, Macedonia has consistently missed its fiscal targets in the past few years. As a result, the poverty rate in Macedonia is still high. Reducing the unemployment rate and increasing foreign investment are the two major things that Macedonia needs to focus on in order to reduce the poverty rate in the coming years.

Mike Liu

Photo: Flickr