NGOs are asking for more women candidates in the upcoming local elections.
By Marina Stojanovska for Southeast European Times in Skopje -- 04/01/13
More female candidates are needed in local elections, along with better gender equality programmes in Macedonia's local government, NGOs say. [Tomislav Georgiev/SETimes]
An initiative by the Macedonian Women's Lobby prompted 100 NGOs to sign a declaration demanding more female mayoral candidates for the March local elections. Currently, Macedonia does not have a female mayor.
"Macedonian female lobby has been working for years to increase the number of female politicians. The initiative is supported by NGOs in all fields, to emphasise lack of elected female mayors, but also because of insufficient gender equality programs," Daniela Dimitrievska from the lobby said.
"By signing the declaration we want to show that we agree that lack of female candidates breaks up democratic principles, and principles of equality. Our goal is to pressure political parties to involve more female candidates in local elections, and promote gender equality programmes," she said.
Liljana Popovska, the president of Democratic Renewal of Macedonia and the president of the gender equality commission in the parliament, said that the organisation supported the declaration, and actively works to increase the number of female mayors.
"Immediately after the 2009 local elections, we noticed there wasn't a single female mayor. We proposed a new electoral statute that demanded 30 percent of female elected candidates," Popovska said. "Unfortunately, this was not accepted by any party, but we will not give up."
However, she is enthusiastic that Macedonia is the regional leader in the number of female MPs.
"Serbia recently implemented our election model with the new electoral statute that includes the requirement of 30 percent women among all candidates. At the Vienna conference in December, I spoke on the subject, mentioning Macedonia as a state with the best practice in the field. Albania, Montenegro, and other countries are looking to implement our model soon," Popovska told SETimes.
"The function of the mayor was a huge experience for me. During my mandate, I had the opportunity to travel and exchange experience with my colleagues across Europe. Women can govern and make decisions as well as men," Lefkija Gazovska, former Krusevo municipality mayor, said.
"The period between 2005 and 2009 was positive for women. There were three female mayors that later, as a part of Local Self-government Association, managed to take part in all political bodies, and local development decision-making," Gazovska told SETimes.
In the 2009 local elections, 27 percent of the 1,387 candidates were women.