Strengthening the link between the Equal Opportunities Coordinator and the Commission for Equal Opportunities for Promotion of Gender Equality in Municipalities

On May 10 and 11, 2018, two one-day trainings for the Coordinators for Equal Opportunities and members of the Commission for Equal Opportunities in the Municipalities were held at ZELS Training Center. The focus of the training was gender policies and gender responsive budgeting at local level within the project "Strengthening the capacities of municipalities for gender policies and gender responsive budgeting" implemented by ZELS with the support of the UN Women Office in Skopje. Maria Risteska and Memet Memeti, who were trainers on this topic, first addressed the national policies on gender equality and the entry points for gender mainstreaming. They talked about the Law on Equal Opportunities and the Obligations that Municipalities Have, as well as the Types of Equal Opportunity Measures and the Need for Systematic Involvement of Women and Men in the Process of Creating, Monitoring and Implementing Policies and the Budget. The importance of communication and cooperation between the Equal Opportunities Coordinator and the Equal Opportunities Commission should be emphasized, which should work together to increase activities and visible results in this field. The exercises outlined the process of developing a program in the municipality that should include a gender perspective where examples from the municipalities were also exchanged. What questions should councilors ask when making decisions to introduce a gender perspective into local budgets to stimulate discussion among participants in both training days. This issue was particularly important because the members of the Commission are at the beginning of their mandate and this experience is important for them to be able to influence this field in the creation of municipal decisions and policies. The second part of the training focused on gender responsive budgeting as a concept, which mechanisms are applied in the country and introduced by other countries. Ways to monitor the activities were also presented, but who could participate and what tools to use for this purpose. Gender statistics and how to collect data, which can be collected and how to systematize it, but more importantly how to use it further were presented in the second part of the training and discussed with the participants. Examples of gender disaggregated statistics and what are the statistical trends were topics covered in the trainings. Lastly, the importance of co-operation between the Equal Opportunity Coordinator and the Equal Opportunity Commission and the ways of communication and coordination was emphasized, with the aim of increasing the involvement of the municipality in the creation of gender policies and gender responsive budgeting. This activity covered all municipalities regardless of their level of progress in this area, in order to exchange information and practices, establish communication between municipalities and increase cooperation. Finally, they were given the opportunity to cooperate with the ZELS Gender Equality Working Group, which includes experienced and trained Equal Opportunity Coordinators who, together with ZELS, can assist the less experienced municipalities in this field.