Take Five: Harmonization of national legislation with the Istanbul Convention – a priority for ending violence against women

Date: Thursday, March 29, 2018

Daniela Rangelova, Member of Parliament in (fYR) Macedonia.  Photo: Courtesy of Daniela Rangelova
Daniela Rangelova, Member of Parliament in (fYR) Macedonia.  Photo: Courtesy of Daniela Rangelova

Daniela Rangelova is a Member of Parliament in the former Yugoslav Republic (fYR) of Macedonia. Since 2014, she has been the President of the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women, and a member of the Women Parliamentarians’ Club, both of which are working in partnership with UN Women to advance gender equality in the country.

How can we change the gender norms and stereotypes in fYR Macedonia?

The problem with violence against women is not a personal one, but a deeply engrained social and cultural issue that demands a complex approach. Globally, women have a submissive position in society, imposed on them as a result of the historical inequality in the distribution of power between men and women.

The change should start within the family, through education. This can help to change the stereotypical perceptions of ‘male’ and ‘female’ work, building awareness among children of equal relations between the sexes and the value of different types of labour.

What are the most important measures to be taken at the national level in order to prevent violence against women and girls?

First of all, the harmonization of the national legislation with the Istanbul Convention and an appropriate and timely response from institutions to all forms of violence against women.

The Law on Prevention and Protection against Domestic Violence and other related laws must be fully observed, and competencies among all relevant institutions must be coordinated (the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, centres for social work, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Health, NGOs and employment agencies).

In addition, monitoring and reporting of cases resolved in the previous year must become a regular practice. The national coordination body should be more proactive in monitoring, and accountable in providing proposals for resolutions of problems in general. We also need greater involvement of psychologists, social and health care workers, and therapists to help break the circle of violence. Lastly, it is important to raise public awareness of the problem of violence against women and girls, and encourage them to report violence to the relevant institutions.

How is the Commission for Equal Opportunities between men and women in the Parliament and the

Club of Women Parliamentarians working to improve the position of women in fYR Macedonia, specifically to address violence against women and girls?

The Women Parliamentarians’ Club and the Committee on Equal Opportunities can achieve a great deal in improving the legislation. They should encourage debate and oversight of the Law on Prevention and Protection against Domestic Violence and related laws to ensure they are properly implemented and to determine whether any further amendments are required. Equally, they should advocate for increased state funding (from central and local government budgets) for new shelters to provide additional accommodation. At the same time, they should integrate gender-responsive budgeting in policy planning to help identify ways to enable survivors to exit the cycle of violence through economic empowerment.

What actions should be prioritized to increase the number, and to improve the quality, of specialized services for victims of gender-based violence in the country?

It is important to strengthen the capacity of the Equal Opportunities Commissions to provide specialized services for survivors of gender-based violence at the local level, and advocate for financial support from local governments. Local governments should actively engage in increasing the provision of accessible specialized services in all regions in the country.

How can we respond to the needs of women from marginalized groups, in terms of violence against women?

Marginalized groups of women face multiple discrimination, and when they are survivors of violence they are even less protected due to the cultural characteristics and traditions of the communities where they live. Specifically, attention should be focused on their empowerment, raising public and stakeholder awareness of the multiple discriminations they face and on their needs and rights; and very importantly, building the capacities of all relevant institutions to implement these measures in line with relevant legislation.