Round table “Equality in decision making and local gender responsive services: Strategies for change”
Women from the Polog region almost entirely excluded from decision-making!
42 activists, researchers, and representatives of local governments of Macedonia and Kosovo, debated on the key challenges for women and possible directions, strategies and actions to improve the situation and status of women and equality on the local level at the round table organized by the Association for Advancement of Gender Equality Akcija Zdruzhenska on 18 November in Skopje.
Active approach to ensure participation and influence of women in all decision-making processes, and decisions followed by resources that will facilitate the daily life of women in Polog was a key recommendation of the discussion.
Local authorities have to be far more active in overcoming the strong patriarchal values and traditional roles of women exclusively as mothers and housewives, and limiting their participation in social political and economic life.
The lack of provided basic services, such as water, electricity, public transport, kindergartens, centers for people with disabilities and elderly people, that are in direct competencies of local government, were emphasized to be key challenges for the quality of daily life of women, especially those from rural areas, and must be a priority of local policies.
“The challenges that we are faced with as civil society organizations and institutions are what ways are there to overcome stereotypes and patriarchal values that define who makes the decisions and what kind of decisions will be made including individual life decisions, and who can be a political or public actor in the community. It is time to focus all our energy in dealing with the source of the problem rather than the consequences.“ said Marija Savovska, executive director of Action Zdruzenska.
The roundtable presented results from the research “Condition equality in decision making and promotion of gender equality in the Polog region” and information on the status of women in Kosovo was also shared.
Kosovo women face similar challenges and it is necessary to build common strategies for promoting equality and local cooperation and cross-border cooperation. According to Luljeta Demolli from the Kosovo Centre for Gender Studies, Kosovo women face similar challenges, patriarchal values and insufficient participation in decision making, limited educational and economic opportunities, which require effective implementation of laws and policies to promote gender equality on local level and better cooperation.
Women’s organizations, that are being even more reduced than before, are aware of the problems, but face a lack of resources and given that, there are only a few organizations have to cover more than 180 villages in the Polog region. This mustn’t be a cause for discouragement if each local actors take their share of responsibility. Cooperation with women with government functions, establishing multi – sector approach and alternative modes of action were identified as part of the solution, and support by a local government, including the financial support through financial inclusion measures and activities to promote gender equality that will be carried out by civic associations.
The round table was organized in the framework of the project “Equity and gender mainstreaming across borders”, supported by the EU under IPA cross-border cooperation between Macedonia and Kosovo. The project is implemented by Akcija Zdruzhenska, in partnership with Kosovo Centre for Gender Studies, the Institute for Community Development from Tetovo and the Centre for counseling and support to women Dora Doors of Prizren.