North Macedonia

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UN Women in Action: Gender-responsive budgeting (GRB) at a glance in North Macedonia

The Republic of North Macedonia has made significant efforts to advance gender equality and to integrate gender-responsive budgeting (GRB) into national planning and policymaking. The country was the first in the region to adopt a Government Strategy for Introducing GRB in 2012, which instigated changes in the budget circular issued by the Ministry of Finance obliging pilot line ministries to develop Gender Budget Statements for selected sectoral programmes. To operationalize the provisions set in the engendered budget circular (2013) and the obligations set forth in the Law on Equal Opportunities of Women and Men (2012), the Government adopted a Methodology on GRB (2014) for central budget users. Since 2014, the Government Methodology on GRB serves as the key instrument and a guide for integration of gender perspective in sectoral programmes and budgets of state institutions.

In 2019 gender-specific provisions and guidelines for central level budget users were included in the Government’s Strategic Planning Methodology.

Participants at a networking workshop organized by NGO Akcija Zdruzenska, a partner organization of UN Women in the frames of the gender-responsive budgeting project. 14-16 July 2021, Struga.
Participants at a networking workshop organized by NGO Akcija Zdruzenska, a partner organization of UN Women in the frames of the gender-responsive budgeting project. 14-16 July 2021, Struga. Photo: UN Women in North Macedonia

GRB policy and legislative framework in North Macedonia

In the Republic of North Macedonia there is a comprehensive legal framework on gender equality and GRB. The Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men (LEOWM) from 2012, introduces an obligation for central (article 11) and local (article 14) governments to incorporate the principle of equal opportunities of women and men in the strategic plans and budgets and follow the effects and impact of their programs on women and men.  

The National Strategy on Gender Equality (2022–2026) adopted by the Government in September 2021 (pending adoption by the Parliament)), incorporates GRB as a key tool for mainstreaming gender in the policymaking and budgeting processes across the strategic priority areas. 

In 2021, the Government endorsed a new Organic Budget Law, which  includes gender equality as one the key budget principles and foresees specific provisions aimed at ensuring effective application of GRB. 

Launch of the Resource Center on gender responsive policymaking and budgeting.
Launch of the Resource Center on gender responsive policymaking and budgeting. (from left to right): Blerta Cela, Deputy Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia, H.E. Kristin Forsgren Bengtsson, Ambassador of Sweden to North Macedonia, Jovanka Trenchevska, Minster of Labour and Social Policy in Republic of North Macedonia, H. E. Véronique Hulmann Marti, Ambassador of Switzerland to North Macedonia, Rossana Dudziak, UN Resident Coordinator in North Macedonia). 3 March 2022. Photo credits: MLSP

Implementation of Public Finance Management reforms

One of the most important priorities for GRB in North Macedonia under the public finance management (PFM) reform is the development of a new Organic Budget Law.. The new OBL (pending Parliamentary adoption) includes gender equality as one of its key principles, while GRB is included in articles related to the financial plans of budget users. The PFM reform also foresees the introduction of programme-based budgeting and an integrated financial management information system, which are important avenues for systematic application of GRB. 

Currently there is no system in place to track government allocations for gender equality and women’s empowerment. The resources planned for advancing gender equality for selected sectoral programmes can be followed through the annual gender budget statements submitted by the line ministries/state agencies to the Ministry of Finance. 

In 2021, the Ministry of Finance engendered the Citizen’s Budget , providing information on the budgetary allocations made by line ministries for specific gender responsive interven-tions/measures in selected sectoral programmes.

North Macedonia - Budgetary Allocation

The types of budgeting system used in North Macedonia

The line budgeting system has been in use in North Macedonia since the adoption of the Law on Budgets in 2005. Although the policymaking framework of central level government institutions is programme based (programmes are developed according to the strategic plans and priorities of the government), the line budgeting system only represents those budget items/categories that are in line with the type and quantity of goods and services to be procured. As such, line budgeting poses a significant challenge in terms of tracking the allocations for gender equality commitments that are set in each programme and does not allow for the monitoring of progress on the implementation of budget programmes.

The new Organic Budget Law, is expected to introduce programme-based budgeting, which  represents an important entry point for gender mainstreaming and for development of specific gender objectives and key performance indicators.

Representatives from the National Federation of Farmers and women agricultural producers
Representatives from the National Federation of Farmers and women agricultural producers present their products during the event for grant awards of women – registered agricultural producers, hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Economy and the Government of North Macedonia. 7 May 2021, City Park, Skopje. Photo credits: UN Women in North Macedonia

The Gender Equality Index and the Global Gender Gap Index

In 2020, North Macedonia ranked 82nd on the Gender Equality Index and 70th on the Global Gender Gap Index.[1] Although North Macedonia has fluctuated substantially on the Global Gender Gap Index in recent years it tended to increase over the period from 2006 to 2020 reaching at 0.72 on the Index in 2020.[2] One of the significant gaps recorded by the Index in 2020 was economic participation and opportunity, where North Macedonia was ranked 100 out of 153 countries.

In 2019, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and the State Statistical Office, with the support of UN Women, developed the first Gender Equality Index (GEI) for North Macedonia based on the EIGE GE Index methodology. According to the GEI, North Macedonia scored 62 points placing the country in 16th place in comparison with the points scored of each of the 28 EU member states.[3]

1.) GDP and Gender Equality

The GDP of North Macedonia recorded stable and constant growth from 2015 to 2019. Yet the COVID-19 crisis had a significant impact on the economic stability of the country compared to 2019. Thus, a 5 per cent decrease in GDP was recorded in the country in 2020. 

In 2020, evident sharp reductions in economic activity across entire sectors caused businesses to record a decline in revenue streams and operations. This had a negative impact on the labour market both in terms of the number of jobs and aggregate hours of work. According to the study ‘Budget choices in a time of Pandemic: Advancing Gender Equality or Holding it Back?’,[4] women were overrepresented in the sectors hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, the number of unemployed women increased by 50 per cent in February and October 2020 whereas unemployment among men increased by 41 per cent. Furthermore, the share of women that received support for start-up businesses in 2020 (30.9%) was lower than during the previous year (33.3%), while for men it increased to 69.1 per cent up from 68 per cent in 2019. The data suggest that the shrinking fiscal space had a major impact on the economic empowerment of women in 2020, especially in the labour market. Given that historically North Macedonia has had low unemployment and high inactivity rates among women, the impact of COVID-19 is likely to further exacerbate the existing gender gap in terms of economic activity in the country.

North Macedonia - GDP

Recommendations on the implementations of CEDAW

North Macedonia submitted its sixth periodic report to CEDAW in May 2017. The latest Concluding Observations on the sixth periodic report of North Macedonia (CEDAW/C/MKD/CO/6) from 14 November 2018 highlight, among the positive aspects, the adoption of the Government’s methodology on gender responsive budgeting. Highly relevant to GRB work in this country are the recommendations that refer specifically to strengthening the National Gender Machinery, improving the budget allocations for temporary special measures under the Law on Equal Opportunities, the economic empowerment of women and the recommendations related to the participation of women in politics and public life.

Key milestones

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