10.06.2017: Open Letter to Members of Parliament of the Republic of Macedonia

Concerning the Proposal for initiating a civil initiative for draft Law on Amending the Law on Labor Relations, submitted on 25.10.2016 by a group of citizens

Distinguished Members of Parliament,

The Platform for Gender Equality, with membership of organizations and networks, welcomes the opening of the issue of amendments to the Law on Labor Relations, largely addressing issues of concern for the rights and status of women and gender equality. At the same time, we welcome the openness of the Parliament to discuss the need for legal changes triggered by civil initiatives.

However, we would like to point out several aspects that are essential for democratic processes, the manner of creating policies and adopting decisions.

First of all, we demand respect of the legally prescribed procedures for accepting and considering civil initiatives that relate to amendments of laws. According to Article 67 of the Law on Referendum and Other Forms of Direct Expression of Citizens, the Parliament is competent to determine first of all the orderlyness of the submitted initiative without entering into a material debate on it. We think that from a formal aspect this article is not fully respected in the discussions of the Commission for Political System and Inter-Community Relations (held on 06.06.2017) and the Legislative Committee (held on 07.06.2017) for the purpose of entering into a material debate that further led to public reactions of various stakeholders. If there is a material debate on the proposed initiative, then a debate must not be lacking in the commissions that are concerned with the given issue.

Compliance with the prescribed legal procedures by all competent authorities and institutions is extremely important in order to ensure the participation of all stakeholders and the transparency of the decision-making process that guarantees improved legal solutions.

Furthermore, we would like to emphasize that the material debate on the issue that concerns civil initiative must not take place in conditions of unformed working bodies in whose competence are the laws that regulate the issues of absence from work due to pregnancy, birth and parenthood. We urge that all working bodies are formed as soon as possible, especially the Commission of Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, with a parity participation of male and female MPs (ratio 50%/50%), where a wide debate on the advancement of laws which regulate the issues of absence from work due to pregnancy, birth and parenthood can be opened.

At the same time, we want to point out that when adopting legal solutions that regulate these issues, the general principles related to the European directives on non-discrimination and gender equality should be respected, as well as the challenges of the Macedonian context.

Finally, we ask the Parliament of the Republic of Macedonia, when amending or adopting legal solutions that affect the rights of women and gender equality, that they are considered by the Commission for Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, with guaranteed participation of experts and civil society organizations working on these issues. In addition, the decisions should be adopted on the basis of reasoned analyzes and exhaustive debates that will lead to the most appropriate legal solutions in favor of the citizens, corresponding to the complexity of the matter regulated by the laws.

We expect that these requests will be taken into account and the Platform for Gender Equality as a consultative mechanism with CSOs will be actively involved in the discussions of the Commission for Equal Opportunities for Women and Men and all parliamentary debates related to amending or adopting new legal solutions and policies which concern women’s rights and gender equality.


Platform for Gender Equality

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