22539840_1144411932325128_4013633863005238694_nPromotion of the annual report of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) “Worlds apart – Reproductive Health and Rights in an age of Inequality”[i] was held on the occasion of the World Day for Eradication of Poverty, which states that in most of the developing countries, 20 percent of women in the poorest of the population have the lowest access to sexual and reproductive health services, including contraception. These women, as the report says, have the greatest risk of unplanned pregnancy and health consequences.

Inequality increasingly refers to those who can and those who can not. Poor women who do not have the means to make their own decision on the family size, or who are in poor health due to inadequate reproductive health care, dominate the ranks of those who can not.

At the promotion, Doina Bologa – director of the UNFPA office in Skopje, presented the findings from the report and Nesime Salioska – executive director of the association ROMA S.O.S. highlighted the local aspect of those findings and the activities that ROMA S.O.S. has implemented in order to deal with them.

⇒ Doina Bologa (UNFPA) – Failure to provide reproductive health services to the poorest women and girls, including family planning, can weaken economies and undermine progress towards the most important goal of sustainable development and the elimination of poverty. Globally, lack of access to reproductive health and rights, intensifies economic inequality and strengthens other inequalities, including inequality in women’s health, with only a handful of privileged women able to control their fertility, and so to gain skills, enter the paid workforce and gain economic power. In order to resolve this inequality, it is necessary to resolve other inequalities, such as increasing access to modern means of family planning, adequate antenatal care for all women, and overcoming social, institutional and other barriers that prevent women from realizing their full potential.

22539872_1144411995658455_9012891782931598101_n⇒ Nesime Salioska (ROMA S.O.S.) One of the problems that still exists in our country, which is a result of the inequality at different levels, are child marriages. Early pregnancies are a consequence of the conclusion of child marriages and only with a legal framework will be possible to have a unique approach in all cases.

For that purpose, association ROMA S.O.S. submitted draft amendments to the laws on family, primary and secondary education and the Criminal Code. The Family Law is required to regulate the manner in which the Centers for Social Work for conclusion of marriage of juvenile persons who have reached the age of 16 and have not reached the age of 18 years, give an opinion, as well as to prohibit living in an extramarital community for up to 18 years. The Law on Education should state the reason for dropping out of education, because so far there are no data on the number of girls leaving the school due to illegitimate community. The third change is in the Criminal Code, or what we call the “gray area”. Article 197 noted that the punishability of persons who make a marriage with children ie persons under 18 is foreseen if the person is not 16 years old. In other words, at the age of 16, neither the MOI nor the public prosecutor’s office will act even upon the request of the parents. Since that expulsion, we are asking to move this border from 16 to 18 years.

It is in the child’s interest to complete a minimum of secondary education so that it can later be reproductively mature for a family. From the past experience, it was noted that the institutions were with one answer: “tradition is such, we can not interfere with your tradition.” However, equality does not imply putting tradition first in order to free the institutions from the responsibility for that inequality.

In order to capture the personal aspect of this issue, two video stories about women from Prilep and Bitola who have faced the problem of early marriage, early pregnancy, poverty and inability to plan the family and conceiving were presented, which for the needs of this event were prepared by the journalists Elizabeta Mitreska, a correspondent for MRT from Prilep and Emilija Misirlievski, a correspondent for TV Telma from Bitola.

Video story MRT: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmTRk-1pxVE

Video story TV Telma: http://telma.mk/vesti/alarmanten-porast-na-detskite-brakovi


[1] https://www.unfpa.org/swop