Gender equality measures - a necessary part of every municipal program and budget

Procurement of computers and tablets for students, opening centres for the care of children from socially risky families, early detection of domestic violence, as well as counselling for women's reproductive health, were only part of the proposed measures that were necessary for the municipal programs and budgets for 2021. These proposals were pointed out by the councillors, members of the municipal commissions for equal opportunities between women and men, who participated at the training “Gender Responsive Budgeting” that was organized by ZELS and held on October 6-7, 2020, in Mavrovo. This two-day training is part of the planned activities of the project “Towards Gender-Responsive Municipalities: Strengthening Municipal Capacities for Gender Equality Policies and Gender Responsive Budgeting (2019-2021)”, implemented by ZELS, with the support of UN Women.

Within the two-day training, the experts Marija Risteska and Kristina Hadzi-Vasilevska through presentations and interactive exercises emphasized the importance of implementing gender-responsive budgeting at the local level, which is aimed at reducing gender inequalities and stereotypes. Special emphasis was put on the application of measures in the conditions of the crisis with the COVID -19 virus, but in the period after the crisis as well. They emphasized the legal obligations, but also the strategic policies of the country in the field of ensuring gender equality. The participants were introduced to the results of the research on the impact of COVID-19 on women and men in the country, conducted by UN Women Skopje. It was concluded that the pandemic affects the lives of women and men differently and that these data should be an alarm for all institutions, including municipalities as well, emphasizing the need for the integration of gender perspective in the processes of preparation of the municipal programs and budgets for next year. That is, that programs and budgets should be developed in accordance with the needs of women and men that are not the same at all, and no one should be neglected.

The perspectives of the participants on what are the traditions, policies, but also the values ​​on the basis of which measures and activities are developed to overcome gender stereotypes and gender gap within the municipality, were presented through the exercise for gender tree. The attendees were introduced to the degree of gender-responsive budgeting in the region and the country through the presentation of a short film.

A large part of the discussion was dedicated to presenting the situation with gender equality in municipalities; how many funds are allocated from the budgets for gender equality, but also for the ways how to sensitize the main “actors” (leadership structures, equal opportunities coordinator, counsellors) to pay appropriate attention to the activities in this area. Several successful practices were presented by the municipalities for the implementation of the gender equality activities, especially in the field of social protection, child protection, urban planning, education and other competencies of the local self-government. It was pointed out that these positive examples are successful because they are usually the result of an established comprehensive approach in their initiation and implementation, i.e. they are the result of joint participation of citizens, the local business community, the media and NGOs.