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

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