Stella held a Town Hall Discussion in Gostivar on September 6th, supported by the Center for Women’s Rights ‘ETIKA’.
Vesna Popovska was the first speaker. She is an activist and part of the first generation of PhD students at the Military Academy in Skopje. She talked about her motivation to get educated in the field of military studies and choose a profession where more than 90% of employees are men. ‘I faced a lot of obstacles during my education, many people were questioning my decision to get this kind of education and my parents and family were shocked by this decision,’ she explained. ‘Despite the lack of support from family and friends I remained strong in the decision to prove that women can effectively and efficiently do every task in the army as well as men can,’ she added.
Albulena Karaga, a feminist and peace activist that helped many women and children who have gone through the horror of war was the second speaker. She shared her views on gender equality in the Macedonian society and the stereotype that people have about careers for men and women.
The presentations were followed by a lively and honest debate on the challenges that women face. ‘Not having a daily center that can take care of children with disabilities is a very crucial systematic problem that mothers face and the main reason for women to quit their job,’ stated a mother of a child with disabilities. ‘At the same time, the social services funds cannot meet the needs of the children and we have to work,’ she added.
Another woman participating in the discussion worked in the police force and in the army. She shared her personal story and views on the situation of women that work in these institutions that are mainly considered as institutions ruled by men. Although they are respected by their fellow male colleagues, in many situations women face more difficulties during their careers simply due to their gender.
‘It is a very hard to be a woman in politics, when politics are ruled by men,’ stated a member of the Council of the Municipality of Gostivar. She stated that at the beginning of her career in politics, she was very enthusiastic and ‘was running around with all kinds of proposals and projects that can be realized in the municipality,’ but she received little to no support from her colleagues because of her gender, she emphasized.