International Rural Women’s Day – October 15th, this year was marked by an event in Demir Kapija, organized by the National Federation of Farmers (NF) and Rural Development Network (RDN) with the support of the Swedish development organization We Effect.

More than 200 representatives of government institutions, civil society organizations from the country and the Balkans, as well as residents of rural areas, attended the event to see the results of last year’s signed Declaration and the cooperation between institutions and NGOs.

The changes highlighted in the four-year Rural Development Program 2018 – 2021, at the request of the National Federation of Farmers, have eliminated the discriminatory measures. This request was supported by the Rural Development Network, the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, the Swedish Development Organization We Effect, the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences and Food, UN Women and other international and national organizations.

In order to further improve the situation of rural women in the country, Vaska Mojsovska, President of the National Farmers ‘Federation, pointed out that: “The National Farmers’ Federation requires the establishment of a set of measures to increase the employment opportunities of women in rural areas; creation of measures for recognition of unpaid labor for women, finding solutions for women from rural areas who did not have a pension by amending the Law on Social Pension, as well as amending the Law on Health Insurance in order to exercise the right to parental leave and sick leave for registered farmers.

Anneli Leina, regional director of the Swedish development organization We Effect, said in her address that “Strengthening the rights of rural women is essential for the development and prosperity of the rural community. When rural women are supported and their rights guaranteed, the positive effects are visible not only in their families, but also in the community and throughout society. They are the future of the rural economy and therefore need to have far greater opportunities, voice and decision-making power in their community, and their rights need to be protected.

The President of the Rural Development Network, Petar Gjorgievski, stated: “We know that in the Republic of Northern Macedonia there are facilities for rural women applying for existing measures to support agriculture and rural development through the National Program for Rural Development and IPARD, but I think that there is a need to increase the stimulation of women entrepreneurs and to support women who would be future carriers of projects by providing more information, encouraging, providing business ideas and providing business connections through various ways of networking. “

Nikolche Babovski, Director of the Agency for Financial Support in Agriculture and Rural Development, noted that “In IPARD 1 barely 3% of applications were submitted by women. With IPARD 2, 23% of applications are submitted by women. Of the 73 applications for the purchase of racial livestock, 33 are approved for women. For the purchase of tractors from 1347 – 343 are for women. ”

The event was addressed by Nefrus Celiku, State Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Economy, who emphasized that within this institution there is a coordinating group for gender equality that defines measure 115 of the Financial Support Program for Rural Development which will be published soon and it  is intended for rural women. The event was also addressed by Elena Grozdanovska, State Counselor for Equal Opportunities at the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, and Ermira Lubani, Regional Technical Adviser to the UN Women Office in the Republic of Northern Macedonia, who emphasized that through the use of gender responsive budgeting as a tool the gap between the formulation of policies and their implementation can be closed. This will lead to better use of resources, better governance and enhanced democracy emphasizing gender responsive budgeting as a policy-making tool.

After the welcoming speeches there was a public discussion on “Ownership of agricultural land and property – a challenge for rural women”. The public discussion included farmers Julijana Velkovska and Stevance Jordanoski, representative of the Balkan Rural Development Network, Andrijana Velevska, State Advisor for Rural Development in MAFWE and Coordinator of Gender Equality Group in MAFWE and Neda Shalovska, Program Officer for Gender Equality and Minorities at We Effect. They discussed and shared relevant data on agricultural land and property ownership as one of the major challenges for women in rural areas..