From challenge to change: Increasing the political participation of women in North Macedonia


From challenge to change: Increasing the political participation of women in North Macedonia

Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) recently organised a conference to help combat violence against women in politics. Discussions focused on strategies to reduce gender-based violence and promote the involvement of women in the political sphere.
Group of people sitting in a conference

A conference dedicated to combating violence against women in politics, titled "Solutions for Enhancing Women's Political Participation," took place on 9 February 2024 in Skopje, North Macedonia. The event was organised by Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) in collaboration with the Institute for Communication Studies (ICS), with support from the British Embassy in Skopje. Participants from political parties, civil society, and international organisations engaged in discussions on reducing gender-based violence and promoting women's involvement in politics.

The primary takeaway from the deliberations was that political parties play a crucial role in ensuring representative democracy, contingent upon their efforts to empower and foster the participation of women in politics. According to data from the Forum for Reasonable Policies, women are frequently underrepresented in party structures. Typically, local party branches are led by men, influencing the gender composition of other party bodies and candidates.

Research conducted by the ICS revealed numerous factors contributing to unequal gender participation in politics, ranging from internal party barriers to the portrayal of women in political discourse. An example of the negative media environment is the proliferation of derogatory comments on journalistic reports via social media, fostering the development of harmful and disturbing content.

British MP Ms. Yasmin Qureshi served as the guest of honor and speaker at the event. She shared successful practices for enhancing women's participation in politics, emphasising the indispensable role of women in driving significant changes by being vocal and taking a stance in developing solutions.

Photo of Yasmin Qureshi, UK MP

“The involvement of women in politics contributes to the progress and prosperity of societies. Regrettably, numerous female politicians encounter violence, hindering their participation or leading to resignations. I encourage the political parties to develop a proactive system that actively promotes and advances women's rights, fostering an environment that encourages their active participation in politics.”

Ms Yasmin Qureshi, UK MP

Andrew Brand, Head of Programmes at the British Embassy, remarked that,

"We all have a role to play in preventing and addressing hate speech, sexism, and violence against women in politics. Ensuring equal participation of women in government and councils at both national and local levels is crucial for enhancing the representative nature, accountability, and quality of democracies."

Ms. Dona Kosturanova, the Country Director of WFD in North Macedonia, underscored that without equal representation of women in politics, preserving the principles of representative democracy is unattainable. As a response, a debate was initiated on the actions political parties can take to ensure equal gender representation in upcoming elections.

During the event, representatives of political parties expressed their commitment to improving the situation. Pledges were made to increase quotas for equal representation between male and female candidates, enhance the representation of women in executive roles, and elevate the number of female candidates for mayoral positions. Some political parties also announced initiatives to achieve gender equality within their party organs, such as central and executive boards. To encourage and support more women to participate in politics, parties proposed the establishment of academies, commissions for equal rights representation, training programmes, and other activities.