Photo: Canva


The women's rights movement in northern Macedonia is fighting for its rights online and offline

In 2020, a secret group chat was revealed in northern Macedonia where thousands of people took part in private material on women and girls without their consent. The women's rights movement in northern Macedonia has since fought for its establishment with the help of several organizations in the country.

Since its independence in the early 1990s, northern Macedonia has had an irregular development in terms of women's rights, but with a new socialist government since 2017, more laws to promote women's rights have now entered into force. However, there is still a lot to do according to organizations in the country that have taken up the fight together with civil society.

In early 2020, an extensive was discovered network scandal in northern Macedonia. The former secret site public rooms was revealed, where thousands of members had shared private photos and data on scores of women, but also underage girls, without consent. The online group where the images were spread was stopped in 2020 after falling into the public eye. But it was not long before the group became active again and in early 2021 it was up and running again, a year after it was discovered.

As a result of this development this year, hundreds of activists and women's activists protested in early February to demand that the government ensure that this type of online sexual harassment is not allowed to continue.

The fight for women's rights today also takes place largely online as the world becomes increasingly digital. In states where legislation for women's rights has historically not had as high a status, many non-profit organizations have chosen to support civil society on issues where the government is lacking. One of these is Coalition margins, a partner organization of the Swedish organization Kvinna till kvinn, which fights for girls and women's rights. Coalition margins took early public action against the perpetrators in public roomsthe scandal. Among other things, they demanded efforts in schools in the form of better sex education and efforts to spread knowledge about violence against women.

- It is frustrating that the development of women's rights is slow but we must not give up, states one of the country's initiators of the metoo movement, Ana Vasileva, who has been involved in the women's rights struggle in the country for several years.

Since the demonstrations in February, the government has taken action and the app used to reach public rooms threatened to be banned unless the group was removed. Northern Macedonia's women's rights movement is now continuing to work to bring those responsible for the group to justice and to shift the blame from the victims to the perpetrators. The scandal in northern Macedonia shows the influence that civil societies and organizations can have on those in power, and the fight in the country continues to ensure that women's rights are respected both online and offline.

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