Last week I went to Macedonia to meet partner organizations, other stakeholders and, of course, my colleague in Skojpe.
I met women and men who told me that their country is on it’s way down. The economy is going down, the political situation is not good, unemployment rate is very high and poverty is rising. Many women and men, young or old, see no future in the country.
The Swedish foreign minister, Carl Bidlt, tweeted about the political mess on February 17: “I’m deeply worried by the deepening divisions in Macedonia. Both sides have a responsibility to take their country off its dangerous path.”
In the Press Freedom Index 2013 Macedonia has fallen more than 20 places because of the arbitrary withdrawal of media licenses and deterioration in the environment for journalists.
The longing of joining EU seems to be becoming more like a dream, due to the factors mentioned above.
But the energy I got from the women I met is very inspiring. They have not given up, they believe that things will change for the better. Even if they are struggling right now. Many are working on voluntary basis to support and help women who have smaller recourses than themselves.
Awareness campaigns about domestic violence and abuse seem to have been successful, but the women who are looking for shelters are having problems to find a safe place. The state run shelters are not working well and the NGO run shelters are not having any funding.
My impression of Macedonia is after all a good one, it is a country worth to keep an eye on.