Empowering smallholder farmers by advocating for their rights

Sida CIVSAM’s Staffan Schelin and Åsa Nilsson on the dairy farm of Zorica Dimovska located in the vicinity of Skopje in North Macedonia. Photo by Ljiljana Mitevska.

We Effect Europe had the pleasure of hosting Sida CIVSAM representatives Åsa Nilsson and Staffan Schelin in North Macedonia, introducing them to the work that we and partner organisations are doing in the region, highlighting the results achieved so far and the overall programme context, but also outlining our goals for the forthcoming period.

Our work focused on enhancing food security in the region and improving the livelihoods of the rural and marginalized population was represented through few examples of our activities with our Macedonian partners, especially in the domain of advocacy.

Our Sida CIVSAM guests had the opportunity to participate at the coordinative meeting with part of the working group established at the of Ministry of Labour and Social Policy of North Macedonia for finding legal mechanisms for registered farmers, both women and men, to be able to exercise the right to a parental and sick leave, the only ones so far not included in the law.

The establishment of this group was a result of the engagement and lobbying activities of our partner organisation, the National Federation of Farmers (NFF) which is hoping that the fulfilment of this right, along with other positive legislative changes that they are pushing for, will further motivate more farmers, especially women, to register their work in agriculture and benefit from all future state measures.

One of those women farmers is Zorica Dimovska who owns a small dairy farm in the vicinity of Skopje that we visited along with our guests from Sida. Apart from running the farm on her own, Zorica is singlehandedly taking care of her ill mother and sister who is a person with special needs.

Currently, she is investing in the establishment of a larger farm, and as member of our partner organisation NFF, she is receiving support with the administrative process in applying for a state grant through the so-called Measure 115 for rural women.

Here it’s important to mention that the Measure 115 was realized as a result of the strong lobbying of NFF for active support of a female member of an agricultural household in North Macedonia. This advocacy victory means that the state is now awarding grants of EUR 3000 to 250 rural women for direct investments in agriculture each year.

The measure allows rural women, through entrepreneurial activities, to be able to develop their own agricultural business and thus ensure greater income for their families, but more importantly economic independence for themselves.

And in this context Zorica’s story is a firm example that the only way forward for rural women is their economic empowerment!

The field visit enabled our Swedish guests to have a direct insight into how our work with partner organisations in the region can contribute to the wellbeing of the smallholder farmers, the poor and the marginalized population.

Written by

Ljiljana Mitevska