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Women, sexual and gender minorities in Macedonia are discriminated in all spheres of life and their rights are not respected

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Macedonian NGOs sent a message to the UN Committee in Geneva.

Women, sexual and gender minorities in Macedonia are discriminated in all spheres of life and their rights are not respected. This is the main message that Macedonian non-governmental organizations presented in Geneva in front of the United Nations Committee in charge of monitoring the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women in the Republic of Macedonia.

Representatives of non-governmental organizations in Macedonia informed the Committee that in the period from 2008 to 2016, 70 women were killed in the country, 51 of them being a femicide victim, i.e killed only because they are a woman. Additionally, 80% of them were killed by an intimate partner. They stressed that the state failed to provide protection to victims of gender-based violence.

Access to health care and services for women remains limited, in particular access to safe and legal abortion and contraception. The position of women in the labor market is more than alarming. "In Macedonia, 65% of the inactive population on the labor market are women who are inactive mostly due to unpaid domestic work. Particularly worrying is the situation with textile workers who are facing continuous violations of their labor rights and dignity, " it was said by the representatives from the NGOs.

A representative from the sex workers' organization also spoke in front of the Committee and noted that 68% of them survive violence due to their line of work and face limited access to health, social services and legal protection. After the departure of the Global Fund from Macedonia and the financing of HIV prevention programs among sex workers, the state does not provide legal aid for sex workers and free gynecological services, which affects their sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Lesbians, bisexuals and transgender (LBT) people are still on the margins of our society. Representatives said: "The state failed to investigate criminal acts of hatred and hate speech directed at LGBT people and this contributed to the increase in violence. LGBT people in Macedonia do not trust the institutions and rarely report violence or discrimination, and those who did report were additionally discriminated against by officials." It was also stressed that young LBT people survive peer violence on a daily basis due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Roma women face discrimination on multiple levels, both as women and Roma, with limited access to the rights guaranteed by the Convention. The fact that there are Roma women who are still not registered in the birth register, without regulated civil status and residence, who do not possess valid personal documentation is worrying. "We are particularly affected by limited access to education, employment and self-employment, adequate housing and quality health care, especially in the area of ​​reproductive health," it was noted by the representatives present at the Committee's session.

Women from rural areas are invisible and forgotten by the state. Social exclusion, unemployment, gender discrimination, unequal distribution of resources, domination of traditional norms, failure to exercise the right to ownership of agricultural property and maternity leave, limited access to education, information, health and social services were highlighted by non-governmental organizations in front of the Committee.

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The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women meets every 4 years, and  reviews the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women. The Convention was ratified by the Republic of Macedonia in 1994. The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1979. Often described as an international law on women's rights, this Convention defines the importance of discrimination against women and sets out legal obligations for member states to put an end to that discrimination.

NGOs addressed statements to the Committee on Monday, October 29th, and representatives of the Government of the Republic of Macedonia will address Thursday, 1 November, at the session for reviewing the implementation of the Convention by the Republic of Macedonia starting at 10 am. The Full Session can be watched live on webtv.un.org

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NGOs: Coalition Margins, HOPS, STAR-STAR, Association ESE, Akcija Zdruzenska, Open Gate Macedonia, European Roma Rights Center, Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in the Republic of Macedonia - LGBTI Support Center, Association HERA, Reactor - Research in Action, Roma Women Initiative from Suto Orizari, Center for Integration - Ambrela, Center for Development of Democracy and Initiatives - CDRIM, Center for Social Initiatives Nadez, Association Sumnal, National Federation of Farmers, National Roma Center, Roma Advocacy Network.