North Macedonia


A candidate country for EU accession, North Macedonia is a land-locked Balkan country of about 2 million people, according the last census from 2002. According to the census data, the largest ethnic group in the country are the Macedonians. The second largest ethnic group are the Albanians, while other major ethnic minority groups are Roma and Turks. The official and most widely spoken language is Macedonian, which belongs to the South Slavic language group. In municipalities where ethnic groups are represented with over 20% of the total population, the language of that ethnic group is co-official.

North Macedonia ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Optional Protocol in 1994. In 2011, it signed but has yet to ratify the Council of Europe’s (CoE) Istanbul Convention on Preventing and Combating violence against Women.

North Macedonia has adopted several laws and mechanisms to advance gender equality. The Law on Equal Opportunities of Women and Men[1] obliges public institutions to ensure equal rights and opportunities for women and men and to integrate gender into their policies, strategies and budgets through specific measures to reduce gender inequality.

Despite significant legal changes, gender gaps and inequalities continue across all levels. Women make up only 39.5 per cent of the employed, earn 17.9 per cent less than men per hour of work[2], and are 64.2 per cent of the country’s economically inactive population.[3] 

Women’s participation in decision making remains limited. Any progress, such as increased representation of women in the National Parliament and municipal councils, is due to electoral quotas. In executive bodies, where quotas don’t exist, women’s representation is low: Women hold only 10 per cent of ministerial posts and 4 per cent of mayoral posts.[4]

Women in North Macedonia are disproportionally affected by domestic and gender-based violence: 82 per cent of domestic violence survivors are women, and men receive 93 per cent of domestic violence convictions.[5] There is a strong need for more research and data on gender-based violence.

Opened in 2006, the UN Women project office works to unlock progress for both men and women. To promote gender equality and the empowerment of women, UN Women in North Macedonia focuses on initiatives and projects in:

We provide expert support to government and civil society efforts to fulfil North Macedonia’s national and international gender equality commitments, particularly in enacting laws and strategies to meet its obligations under CEDAW, the CoE’s Istanbul Convention and the Beijing Platform for Action.

UN Women supports national efforts to strengthen women’s leadership, increase the number of elected women politicians at the local level and their capacities to mainstream gender in policies.

The lead UN agency in ending violence against women, UN Women supports government and civil society efforts to prevent domestic violence, protect victims and raise awareness of gender-based violence. We work with public officials to provide improved, better integrated domestic violence protection and prevention services.

UN Women in North Macedonia provides assistance to central and local governments so they can integrate gender equality and gender-responsive budgeting in national planning and policy making. We also work with non-government actors to hold governments accountable for their gender-equality commitments.


[1] Adopted in 2006 and amended in 2012.

[2] “Gender pay gap in Western Balkan Countries: evidence from Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia”, FREN, Belgrade 2013.

[3] Labour Force Survey, State Statistical Office of FYR Macedonia, Skopje, 2014

[4]; Local elections 2013,

[5] Mirceva S., Caceva V., Kenig H., Voice for Justice, Assessment of the court procedures for domestic violence cases with special focus on the managing the cases from gender perspective, Institute for Sociological, Political and Legal Research - ISSPI, Skopje, 2014.

Macedonia commemorates the 10th year of the Law on Equal Opportunities between Women and Men

On International Women’s Day, over 100 representatives of the Government, the UN, civil society, experts and academia in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia gathered to reflect on the progress made since the adoption of the Law on Equal Opportunities between Women and Men in 2006.

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