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“What's Changed?” talks in North Macedonia marked #WPD call for global attention to the unfinished business

10 July 2019
“What's Changed?” talks in North Macedonia - July 10, Hotel Marriott, Skopje

This year's #WPD calls for global attention to the unfinished business of the Cairo ICPD Conference in 1994 was marked with “What's changed after 25 years talks in North Macedonia on gender-based violence” and “the rights of youth and adolescents, call to the unfinished business of the #ICPD25”.

“What's Changed?” was broadcasted live from Skopje on July 10, 11:00 AM (CET), on UNFPA MK Facebook page here http://bit.ly/2LoAV25.

The panel discussion was attended by around 120 participants from state institutions, NGOs, UN agencies in the country, embassies, media and other partners and friends of UNFPA.

Moderated by Country Director Ms. Aynabat Annamuhamedova, this first national “What’s Changed?” conversation featured Mr. Iljaz Sabriu, member of the Macedonian delegation in Cairo 1994; Ms. Mila Carovska, Minister of Labour and Social Policy, N. Macedonia; Mr. Venko Filipche, Minister of Health, N. Macedonia, Mr. Kristijan Angeleski, Y-PEER Youth Network, N. Macedonia; and Ms. Rossana Dudziak, UN Resident Coordinator, N. Macedonia.

The discussion was opened by the veteran from the Cairo Conference, the then Macedonian Minister of Labour and Social Policy, Mr. Sabriu, who was a member of the Macedonian delegation that vice-chaired the Cairo Conference from the region of Eastern Europe, along with Romania and Hungary.

"These were the early years of our independence when our country had just been recognized by the UN. The delegation was at the highest level, and we tried to use every opportunity to promote and strengthen our role in the field of gender equality and population policy" stressed Sabriu.

He emphasized the commitment of the government at the time to implement the key conclusions of the Conference, and the process of drafting a Programme for development of population and birth rate policy.

The Minister of Labour and Social Policy, Ms. Mila Carovska spoke about the ratification and operationalization of the Istanbul Convention, whose goals should be achieved in the next 5 years, and also about the other strategic priorities of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy as part of the development goals.

"The country shows progress in gender equality and the promotion of the rights of women and girls. This includes the harmonization of legislation, as well as the development of services for prevention and protection against gender-based violence", stated the Minister.

She pointed out that historically North Macedonia has been fighting for women's rights and is constantly striving to follow international standards, and added that, in spite of all, in some institutions, we are still facing challenges in accepting gender equality.

"We need to work on prevention and also on gender equality to social and material rights by the state," the Minister added.

The Minister of Health, Mr. Venko Filipche highlighted several key points in the country's progress - the adoption of a two-year Action plan for implementation of the Strategy on sexual and reproductive health with the support of UNFPA, the opening of three centres for referral of victims of sexual violence, drafting of procedures for treating victims etc., the new Law on abortion in which the previous restrictive measures are removed, the HIV prevention programmes etc.

"This meeting is a great opportunity to determine what we have done so far and what we have yet to do in the field of sexual and reproductive health," declared the Minister of Health, Mr. Filipche.

UNFPA Country Director for North Macedonia Ms. Aynabat Annamuhamedova said that “A lot has been done since 1994 but there are areas where more progress is expected – especially in relation to gender roles, social norms and youth”.

 “If we can strengthen our commitment, supported with political will, strong partnership and financial investments, we would have a bright future“, highlighted Ms. Annamuhamedova.

The representative of Y-PEER Youth Network, Mr. Kristijan Angeleski spoke about the rights of young people and adolescents, and what needs to be done in order to improve their position.

 “Youth should be actively involved in planning, implementation and evaluation of development activities that have a direct impact on their daily lives, ensuring that no one is left behind. The ICPD is a milestone and it is said that the figures are not the most important, but what matters most are the people. Exactly to this we need to refer when talking about sustainable development", said Angeleski.

North Macedonia has shown serious commitment and has made remarkable progress in addressing the gender-based violence issues, underlined Ms. Rossana Dudziak, UN Resident Coordinator in North Macedonia.

“The time to act is now. One of the reasons that we commemorate this day is to mark  the progress that we have made so far but also to challenge ourselves to keep on making new commitments and to see what we can continue to do“, she added.

“At the Nairobi Summit this year we really need to reenergize the global community, to breed new life into the agenda and to sustain it and build up on the gains achieved since 1994“.