On October 24th, in the hall of the Municipal Council of Cair, Stella held its tenth Town Hall Discussion. The main goal of the discussion was to detect the traditional and systemic obstacles that women and girls face in their everyday lives, as well as the stereotypes that are forbearing their education and careers.
Dr Irena Cvetkovikj was the first speaker. She holds a PhD in the field of gender studies. Dr Cvetkovikj noted that gender equality and economic equality are serious challenges for women in Macedonia. She argued that if women were economically free and paid as well as men, the gender equality in every society can be much better. She also spoke about her personal difficulties and the ways in which she was discriminated against in her academic career. For instance, even though she was the better qualified candidate for certain positions at the university, she was not selected for the job. However, she never lost faith and she was fighting for her position and that is her recommendation for every women in every community.
Professor Rukie Agic based at the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences and Food - Skopje was the second speaker. Throughout her professional career, she has gained professional skills participating in trainings in the country and abroad in the field of organic production, genetic resources, and modern vegetable storage technologies. She addressed issues of gender equality in the academic sphere, where the leading positions at every university are held by men. Women can only be satisfied with the role of professors and they are very rarely chosen as a dean or as a part of the university rectorate. On this point, Irena added the findings on her research about gender equality at universities, referring to the ‘invisible glass’ - a situation where women can apply for higher position at the university, but they will never get that position.
Participants in the discussion shared the sentiment of how dire the situation was. One teacher explained that she noticed gender inequality between her students even from a very young age. For example, boys did not want to allow girls to play football saying that football was a men’s sport and there was even a situation when they bullied the boy that played football with the girls and did not want to play with him anymore. After noticing this she talked about gender equality and made some exercises with the kids, making the point of them being equal. Another story came from a young woman whose family forbade her from marrying the man she loved because he was from a different ethnic group. However, she married him and after several years, their parents accepted the fact and started to communicate on a daily basis with her again.