Elevating rural communities by empowering women

Addressing the rural women at the North Macedonia event, from right to left: Vaska Mojsovska, President of the National Federation of Farmers; Anneli Leina, Regional Director of We Effect Europe; Ami Larsson Jain, Swedish Ambassador to North Macedonia; Stevo Pendarovski, President of the Republic of North Macedonia; Petra Drexler, German Ambassador to North Macedonia; Karin Rau, GIZ Program Manager;

For International Day of Rural Women and World Food Day, multiple events took place in the countries in Europe region where we operate, highlighting the vital role that rural women and smallholder farmers play in food security and sustainable rural development. At the event in North Macedonia, attended by the President of the country along with the ambassadors of Sweden and Germany, We Effect called for empowerment of rural women as custodians of food security and the pillar of the rural economy.

“In reality, we are far from achieving the equality of rural women and a lot of work needs to be done in this direction, especially by the institutions that need to offer greater support for women’s leadership. The voice of the women should be heard and respected. This support should not be declarative but essential and in the form of a functional partnership in the decision-making process at all levels, so that the women from the rural areas can become the policy makers themselves. In this way, they will create their own role in society,” said the President of North Macedonia, Stevo Pendarovski, addressing the 200 rural women gathered at the event in Krushevo, North Macedonia, organized by our partner organization NFF.

Sweden has been a long-term supporter of rural women in the country, backing the process of adopting progressive policies and programs that address the specific needs and concerns of rural women.

“Women still do not have the same treatment as men in society, they encounter many challenges, lack of work, unpaid work, even violence, but they persevere and continue to provide food for their families and for all of us. That is why they need to be valued equally as men. The adoption of social security programs, especially the paid maternity leave, are a positive change. Sweden supports all programs for transformation and success, and our program is fully committed to supporting the country on its way to the EU especially by strengthening gender equality as one of the key components on this road,” said Ami Larsson Jain, Ambassador of Sweden.

President of the Republic of North Macedonia, Stevo Pendarovski, with the rural women attending the event in Krushevo.

In this context, Regional Director of We Effect Europe, Anneli Leina, pointed out that gender equality must be taken into consideration when decisions are made, resources are allocated, and policies and legal frameworks are created and implemented.

“At We Effect we try to be a driver in moving gender equality to the top of the regional rural development agenda. Together with our partner organizations in the region, we are fully committed to bringing about positive changes in the direction of truly advancing gender equality and empowering women in rural communities,” said Regional Director Anneli Leina.

The rural women present at the event were also addressed by German ambassador Petra Drexler, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management of North Macedonia Ljupco Nikolovski who had a video address, as well as by Vaska Mojsovska, President of the National Federation of Farmers (NFF).

Certificates of appreciation were awarded to successful women and associations of citizens that work to improve the economic and social condition of women in rural areas, and the event was concluded with the signing of the Declaration of Cooperation between organizations from North Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Montenegro for creation of a regional cooperation platform which will work towards improvement of the socio-economic conditions for the women in the rural areas.

From the conference in Prizren, organized by our partner organisation, the Network of Organisations for Rural Development in Kosovo (NORDK).

In Kosovo, our partner organisation, the Network of Organisations for Rural Development in Kosovo (NORDK), organized a two-day event in Prizren, with a conference focused on the topics of food security and support of rural women in developing businesses, followed by a fair where the rural women could display their agricultural products for sale. Our second Kosovo partner, KAMP organized an event at the Food and Veterinary Agency in Prishtina where an open dialogue was conducted on the topic of empowerment of rural women.

In Albania, our partners AgroPuka and ADAD Malore participated in the Pro Rural Women event organized within the frames of the Rural Parliament of Albania, aimed at strengthening the advocacy for an agricultural and rural sector, for communities and a society with equal opportunities for all. At the event, the award “Liljana Isakaj” for empowerment of rural women was given which will be promoted together with ADAD Malore every year as part of the Pro Rural Women. Additionally, our third Albanian partner Une Gruaja organized an awareness-raising activity about the role and contribution of rural women in society, at the promenade of Korça city.

In Bosnia, our partner Vive Zene organized the traditional fair of rural women’s products in city of Tuzla. The women exhibited their agricultural products, mainly homemade processed food and drinks, such as jams, ajvars and juices, as well as handcrafts. Additionally, the fair also hosted some women’s associations which were advocating for the respect of women’s rights in all areas of private and public life.

Our partner FARM from Moldova run an awareness-raising campaign, dedicated to young women in rural areas, promoting successful examples of young women starting agricultural businesses.

Rural women from Bosnia, selling their products at the fair in Tuzla, organized by our partner Vive Zene.

Written by

Ljiljana Mitevska