Advocacy success in North Macedonia – women farmers receive paid maternity leave

The first meeting of the working group held at the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy of North Macedonia, attended among others by Minister Jovana Trenchevska (central), Regional Director of We Effect Europe Anneli Leina (first on the right), and partner representatives Biljana Petrovska Mitrevska (first on the left) and Stevan Orozovic (second on the right).

As a result of the strong lobbying activities of We Effect and partner organisation NFF, a pilot programme for the registered women farmers to receive paid maternity leave will start to be realized in 2023 through the country’s Ministry of Agriculture. Our joint advocacy activities continue for this measure to become a permanent part of the law as well as finding legal solutions for accomplishing the right to a sick leave for farmers.

Paid maternity leave has been a long-exercised right of every working woman in North Macedonia except for the rural women, i.e. registered women farmers.

This was the starting point for establishing a working group for finding legal mechanisms for registered women farmers to be able to exercise the right to a maternity and sick leave, the only ones so far not included in the law.

The process, strongly supported by We Effect, was initiated by our partner organisation, the National Federation of Farmers (NFF) and the group was established in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Economy, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and the Ministry of Health of North Macedonia, and included representatives of all other state agencies, funds and institutions necessary for resolving the issue.

After a year of lobbying and working in the group for reaching a common ground with all the competent institutions – a solution was found. Starting from 2023 a pilot programme for the registered women farmers to receive paid maternity leave will be realized through the Ministry of Agriculture and the Agency for Financial Support of Agriculture and Rural Development of North Macedonia.

“We are very proud of this achievement,” said Regional Director Anneli Leina, adding that rural women have the right to a well-being at each stage of their life and pregnancy and maternity are an especially vulnerable time for them and their families.

“Paid maternity leave helps provide financial stability to rural women, but it also ensures the continuation of often vital income which is necessary for the well-being of their entire families. Safeguarding the health of expectant and nursing mothers and protecting them from discrimination is a precondition for achieving genuine equality, enabling farmers to raise their families in conditions of safety and security,” said Regional Director Anneli Leina.

According to the President of the National Federation of Farmers, Vaska Mojsovska, this is a huge success, especially in finding a solution to a problem that has existed for 30 years. “A measure like this strongly facilitates the development of the agriculture as a profession in North Macedonia. We expect that this will have a strong impact on increasing the number of registered women farmers, especially young ones, and women who own land and an agricultural household,” says Vaska.

The programme for paid maternity leave for registered women farmers has been included in the budget of the Republic of North Macedonia for 2023 and it will be implemented by the Agency for Financial Support of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Ministry of Agriculture in the course of the coming year.

In this context, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Economy of North Macedonia, Ljupco Nikolovski, emphasised that the registered women farmers will be able to use maternity allowance for nine months, same as all other working women in the state.

“This is a pilot measure that will be implemented in 2023, but we will continue working to find a permanent solution to this problem having in mind the principles of non-discrimination and the rule of law,said Minister Nikolovski at an event of NFF focused on supporting young farmers.

The group, established by NFF in cooperation with all three ministries, will continue to work next year as well in the direction of finding a systemic solution for the maternity measure to become a permanent part of the law, as well as finding legal solutions for accomplishing the right to a sick leave for farmers.

The fulfilment of these rights will further motivate more farmers, especially women to register their work in agriculture and benefit from all future state measures.

Written by

Ljiljana Mitevska