Gender differences and inequalities in the labor market in FYROM

By Daniela Antonovska, Project Manager - IPA project Gender mainstreaming in rural and agricultural development


Gender differences and inequalities between men and women are among the important factors for gender pay gap between women and men performing the same work with same educational background. The unequal value of the labor between women and men is based on the patriarchal and traditional stereotypical gender roles of women, insufficient access to family resources such as houses and land, occupational segregation, feminization of labor and unpaid child, elderly care and domestic work, which are seen as “non–economic phenomenon.”

The gender pay gap is defined as the differences in the salary for women and men. The two types of gender pay gap can be determined; unadjusted and adjusted gender pay gap. The unadjusted gender pay gap is the difference between the average gross hourly earnings of men and of women employees as a percentage of average gross hourly earnings of male paid employees, regardless of differences in personal worker’s traits. On the other hand, the adjusted gender pay gap takes into consideration the differences in education, experience, and other personal and labor traits of both women and men.

The Treaty of Rome in 1958 laid the foundation for equal value of labor between men and women when performing the same work. The ILO Equal Remuneration Convention, (no.100) stipulated the equal remuneration for men and women workers for work of equal value without discrimination based on gender.

FYROM as a country in Western Balkan and country in accession in EU as other countries in the Western Balkan region is facing with issues such as high rate of unemployment, gender pay gap, women’s poverty and social exclusion. The unemployment rate in the country in 2016 was 23.4%. At the same time, poverty rate was 21, 8%, namely nearly 450.000 citizens in the country are living below the relative poverty line. Gini index which measures the income inequality in 2016 was 33.6% compared to 40.9% in 2010 showing a decline in income inequality mainly due to social transfers, rising pensions and a slight increase in employment rate.

The country has ratified the ILO Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 (no.100) in 1991.

The equality between women and men in the labor market is guaranteed with the Constitution of the country. The Labor law, article 6 regulates the equal opportunities and equal treatment of women and men, equal access to labor market and equal payment for equal work.

Two National strategies for employment (2011-2015 and 2016-2020) were adopted and are harmonized with the priorities of the Strategy Europe 2020. According to the last National strategy for Employment the gender gap in employment is high, with the employment rate in men by 56% against the employment rate in women of 37,4% in 2014. On the other hand, the employment rate in women in 2016 was 38% whilst in men 61.1%. The economic inactivity in women is 64.5%. The discrepancy is much bigger in rural areas whereas 53.9% men are employed whilst women represent 29% of the total employed rural population.

The Government of the country in the period 2009-2011 introduced few packages of anti-austerity measures aiming at reducing the negative effects of the crisis. The anti-austerity measures were directed towards decreasing the unemployment rate. The new job vacancies were mainly opened in private sector and in the education sphere. The first National strategy on alleviation of poverty and social exclusion (2010-2020) was adopted aiming at improving living and working conditions and social inclusion for all.

Some progress was made in 2012 with the adoption of the Law on Minimum Wage. Тhe Law on Minimum Wage in FYROM stipulates that the paid amount of the minimum wage in the gross amount for the previous year shall be adjusted in March each year with one third of the increase in the average paid salary in FYROM. In the country women are mainly employed in the sectors such as education (58.7) compared to men (41.3), health and social work activities (75.5 vs. 24.5) while men are over present in sectors such as constructions, electricity, transportation. Regarding the sectors of employment, the highest gap in salary between women and men is present in the agricultural sector, construction, and transportation whereas the gap is around 40%. The agricultural sector is characterized with the lowest salaries in the country and women are the one who are the unpaid workers on the fields.

The gender pay gap is the highest in those with secondary education (17.7 %) then with those with primary education (15.6%) and within the category of tertiary education 4.7%. According to Petreski and Blazevski (2015) the gender pay gap in the country is about 18-19%, the adjusted gap according to the authors is larger than the unadjusted which is about 13%.

Among the problems in the country are the economic inactivity of women, flat tax policy and insufficient access to finance. Taxes are high and credits are not accessible due to the fact that women in the country do not own properties as a consequence of the patriarchal and traditional view of the role of women. Other necessary preconditions for women’s employment in FYROM are the availability of services such as child and elderly care facilities. In rural municipalities as a basic precondition for raising the rate of women’s employment is the provision of public transport services, electricity in public spaces, ambulances and child care facilities.

Another important aspect regarding the country is the adjustment of the laws regulating mobbing and sexual harassment in the workplace with the Anti-discrimination law. The other important issues are maternity leave and paternity leave. Namely, changes that are proposed in the Law are the following; paid parental leave for a period of 12 months, from which the first 3 months’ maternity leave should be used by the mother, and from the remaining 9 months, 3 months without the right to transfer, to be used by the parent who does not use the majority of parental leave, which is usually the father.

It is important to be crated gender smart job strategies; to be made changes in the mind-set of people particularly in currently accepted traditional and patriarchal cultural and social norms. Gender budgeting as a tool and mechanism should be introduced to all levels in the society.

Policy makers should introduce the minimum guaranteed income. Advocates for gender equality on national level should advocate for feminist economy focusing on topics such as care work, professional segregation, and unpaid domestic work. The fight against accepted stereotypes in terms of female and male occupations and education should continue. We need more girls and women in STEM. We need valorization of the unpaid care and domestic work.

Another important focus is the capability approach which focuses on the individual potential and capacities of women. The capability approach is accepted by the UN Development program in the context of human development as an alternative of the economic indicators such as GPD.

The cooperation among the relevant national, local stakeholders, NGO sector, business sector and Trade Unions is essential for the successful implementation of adopted laws. **


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Daniela Antonovska graduated at the Faculty of Philology in Skopje and completed postgraduate Gender studies in the Institute for Social Science and Humanities in Skopje. She has worked for the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment in the NGO sector in the country for 16 years.

She continuously expanded her knowledge and skills through various summer schools, seminars, trainings, conferences regarding gender equality, feminism, ethnicity, democracy, women peace and security. She has participated in few study visits on the topics of defending women’s rights. She is a current board member (2016-2018) in European women’s lobby, for the third term, previously being alternate board member (2008-2012). Within the work of EWL she participated in a numerous activities and conferences regarding improvements of women’s position in different areas.

She is alumna of Euro Balkan gender and feminist studies as well as current alumna of the Mother Theresa School for Public Policy.

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