Today, the International Women’s Day, hundreds of activists gathered in front of the Government building of the Republic of Macedonia, marking the beginning of the sixth March for Women’s Rights, organized by the Platform for Gender Equality and women’s rights activists.
Chanting “Poverty has a female face”, the activists reminded that despite the fact that women constitute an equal half of the country’s population, they still do not enjoy equal rights in almost any aspect of their lives, at work or at home, in politics and social life, and a state in which women are not included as equals is a state in which there is no progress.
“We say my mother doesn’t work, she is a housewife, you say my wife, she stays at home, she doesn’t work.” No! These women work every day! Over 220,000 women who are counted by statistics as housewives and who are economically inactive, work every day, but do not earn from their work. Dependent on household income, these women are constantly at risk of economic violence and old age without a pension.” – says the Platform for Gender Equality.
“During covid-19, we saw who studied with the children while the schools were closed, we saw who risked being fired from their jobs because they had to take care of children while kindergartens were closed. We saw how workers’ rights were violated, we saw how payments were made below the minimum wage to textile workers, we saw how big bosses abuse state subsidies on the back of the workers, we saw how was worked overtime in overcrowded plants. We saw everything, except a report, because in your policies women are still worthless.” – added from the Platform for Gender Equality.
They locate the responsibility in the institutions that, due to the absence of policies, strategic documents and mechanisms that support the advancement of gender equality and women’s rights, allow systemic discrimination and violence, but also in the lack of gender-sensitive measures to deal with the covid-19 pandemic and of mechanisms for economic empowerment of women. They believe that this, among other things, is due to the non-involvement of women in the creation of policies and measures, as well as in making decisions that will take into consideration the needs of all citizens.
In their addressing, the activists requested:
- Adopting effective policies and measures to deal with the consequences of covid-19 that will include a gender perspective and take into consideration the needs of different categories of women, marginalized and vulnerable categories of women;
- Increased participation of women in the working groups that prepare and implement measures to respond to the situation with covid-19 and the economic crisis;
- Budget and economic policies for people, not for businesses and parties;
- Functional inspection services that prevent exploitation and discrimination of female workers!;
- Prevention of further privatization of social and health services!;
- Increased participation of women in decision-making positions through the introduction of quotas that provide for at least 40% participation of women in each level of government;
- Immediate adoption of the Gender Equality Strategy 2021-2026 and adoption of the Law on Gender Equality;
- Urgent adoption of a new Law on Labor Relations that provides for the protection of women workers who work with fixed-term contracts during pregnancy, birth and parenthood, the right of protection during pregnancy, birth and parenthood for women workers who perform unpaid work and for women workers without formal employment contracts. A law that also provides for maternal, paternal and parental leave, as well as the right to flexible work engagement due to early care obligations for children or other persons;
- Creation and implementation of new employment measures that are accessible to and take into consideration the specifics of all marginalized groups of women, especially Roma women, women with disabilities, women-victims of violence and single mothers;
- Urgent harmonization of policies and laws with the Istanbul Convention, as well as with Resolution 1325;
- Immediate adoption of amendments to the Criminal Code for harmonization with the Istanbul Convention and comprehensive protection of women from violence.
After the activists’ addressing in front of the Government building, the attendees continued along the route to the Women’s Fighter Park, where the end of this year’s march for women’s rights was marked with closing speeches.
Finally, the activists said that there must be changes: “This fight and this day belongs to all of us, for equal access to social and health services, for equal access to public transport and information, for equal access to the market of labor, for equal care for children and older family members, for gender equality that will be visible at every step and in every household and that will bring women out of the shadows once and for all!” – they concluded.