WoW Awardees from North Macedonia

Preface and elaboration of the Committee of WoW Awards organized by Tiiiit! Inc. on their selection of the five winners

The selection committee consisting of

Sibel Bajram – English teacher at the “26th July” primary school in ShutoOrizari, president of the Roma Women Community “Lacho Dive” in Skopje, and an activist for the rights of the Roma community, with focus on the rights of Roma girls and women.

Elena Petrovska – LGBT rights activist with a Master’s degree in Gender Studies, project coordinator in Coalition Margins, and a member of the lesbian feminist activist group LezFem.

Kristina Lelovac – an actress, a docent at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts at the University of Skopje, and a co-founder of Tiiiit! Inc. and the Festival for Feminist Culture “Firstborn Girl”.

Jana Jakimovska – a painter, associate professor at the Arts Academy at the “GoceDelchev” University in Shtip, a women’s rights activist, and part of the #ISpeakUpNow initiative and

Irena Cvetkovikj holds a PhD in Gender Studies. She was the author of the socially engaged blog Femgerila. She is a human rights activist for the rights of marginalized groups, with a special focus on LGBT rights, the rights of drug users and sexual workers. At the moment, she’s the executive director of the Coalition Margins. ;

has taken into consideration the ethnic, social, cultural, and the age structure of the Republic of North Macedonia and has assigned the awards based on a cross-section of these parameters, paying itsrespect to women from different cities, ethnos, age groups, cultural and social milieus. What’s interesting is that this task wasn’t assigned to the committee beforehand but rather, it developed spontaneously during the selection process itself. It was quite a challenge to make a choice from the list of outstanding candidates and it took a couple of preliminary stages to arrive here. The final selection reflects the individual choices of the committee members but also the common decision that resulted in such diversity among the winners. However, what brings these five remarkable women together is their dedication to the life battles they’ve chosen to fight, not only for themselves but for the women in our society as well.

EniseDemirova from Shtiphas shown an unquenchable zest, bravery, and persistence in making the fight against discrimination and the need for equality and integration of Roma women more visible, even though she only went to primary school. Since 1994, the purpose of her civic engagement has been to encourage women to participate in policy- and decision-making processes because she believes that their visions and ideas deserve to be heard. Thanks to her efforts, in 2004, 60 Roma women were able to exercise their right to education.

Having in mind that Roma women are among the most marginalized and discriminated against in this country and that their visibility is such that it rarely generates any structural changes, the self-sacrificing female fight present in Enise’s Roma movement is all the more valuable. It helps them win the fight for integrated education, equal job opportunities, prosperity and emancipation, better health and social status. She has won this award as an acknowledgement of her exceptionally important contribution to the improvement of the status of Roman women, their inclusion in local politics, and as an example of civic activism that should be followed and widened in scope.

Ruzhica Josifovskais an art teacher and painter from Kavadarci. In the course of her long teaching career, she has educated generations of young talents, some of whom have become accomplished artists themselves. Today, she’s still active within the retirement community, enriching the socio-cultural life of seniors in her hometown.

The WoW award is a token of appreciation for the support that Ruzhica has shown to numerous students in the realization of their true potential in the art sphere. Students that have been recognized and have won many prizes not only in Kavadarci and the Tikvesh region but across the territory of ex-Yugoslavia as well. Moreover, the award is a recognition of her long-standing contribution and dedication to the community, inspiring and committing the upcoming generations to work for the benefit of their own communities.

Irena Popovska from Skopje graduated in Philosophy at the Birkbeck College in London, in 2010, and got her master’s degree in Social and Cultural Theory at Staffordshire University in 2016. She’s a prolific writer of critical and theoretical texts on art and social issues that she has been publishing in magazines likeMargina, Gragjanski, Forum, the daily newspaper Dnevnik, and the website OKNO.

In the words of Irena Popovska herself – “Perceived through the predetermined matrix of entrenched beliefs and prejudices, the disability phenomenon remains an enigma for most citizens”. This award goes to Irena for her unwearied fight for the rights of people with disabilities. Through her deeds and projects, she keeps working tirelessly in this field, intersecting in order to mobilize all sides included in solving the numerous problems faced by people with disabilities and their families.

Natasha Boshkova graduated from law school and completed her master’s degree in Gender Studies at the University of Sarajevo. Her main areas of interest include nondiscrimination, sexual and health rights, and gender equality. Natasha works as a lawyer and legal advisor for the Coalition Margins, where she represents cases of human rights violations against LGBT people, sex workers, HIV-positive people, and drug users. Natasha has also been a fervent advocate of other causes such as the right to have access to safe abortion services and the fight against domestic and gender-based violence.

To be active as a lawyer and activist protecting the most vulnerable and stigmatized groups of citizens,commonly exposed to violence, discrimination, poverty, and social exclusion, puts a lot of strain both professionally and personally. This award recognizes Natasha’s dedication and key role in creating important gender equality laws, and the fact that she has won two cases against the Republic of North Macedonia in front of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Vaska Mojsovska is a farmer in Timjanik, a village close to Negotino, and the first female president of the National Federation of Farmers (NFF). Her position at the NFF allows her to make sure that the Declaration for the Improvement of the Economic and Social Position of Rural Womenis put in force. The declaration was signed on the International Rural Women Day in 2018 by the NFF, the Network for Rural Development, the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy. She advocates for future changes in the Law on Health Insurance that would include the right to parental leave and sick leave for farmers who pay contributions.

The WoW award acknowledges Vaska’s efforts in excluding the discriminatory criteria from the government support for women farmers that used to be granted only to mothers, married women, unemployed, and women living in a place with a population of 200 at an elevation of 800 meters. The award, therefore, recognizes her zealous fight for the decent life of rural women.