At the first regional, online event on “The Impact of the Covid-19 crisis on vulnerable groups in agriculture” held on 17 March 2021, about 40 representatives of civil society organizations from the Western Balkans discussed how to support vulnerable communities, especially women- farmers from rural areas, in the process of recovery from the Covid-19 crisis, but also how, in the long, run to build resistance to this type of shock in these communities. Participants concluded that a key challenge is to enable economic prosperity, where structural barriers are reduced and traditional gender norms and stereotypes are overcome.
Marina Tošeska from LAG Agrolider, as a representative from North Macedonia, emphasized that during the crisis the disproportionate burden on women, who take care of the household, do precarious work where they do not enjoy basic protection at work, and to a significantly greater extent are victims of domestic violence.
According to a survey of 400 women from the Pelagonija region, rural women are often informally employed, without social protection, lost a large number of jobs during the crisis, while at the same time being expected to care for a household with a sick member or children whose educational process takes place at home. Additionally, in this vulnerable category, a significant presence of a sense of isolation, loss of social contacts and the support network that they provide to each other are recorded. In this way, the exchange of information is significantly limited.
LAG Agrolider, within the support of this project, developed a digital platform www.domasno.mk, which is mainly intended for women farmers, and which replaces the traditional point of sale with digital, thus enabling continuity in the sale of agricultural and other types of products, and provides a stable income for this vulnerable community.
Fetah Elezi from the Association for Plant Genetic Resources from Albania presented the model of an agricultural cooperative that they tested in the village of Baltëz (the entire presentation can be found at this link).
Olivera Vukovikj from SeCONS from Serbia presented research that looked at different trends in mobility and employment, especially in agriculture, among rural women, as well as the effect of Covid-19 on these trends (the full presentation can be found at this link).
Linda Balera, from the Communications and Public Relations Manager, Promoting Private Sector Employment (PPSE) from Kosovo, also spoke at the event, talking about the experiences there.
All participants shared information on programs and measures (not) adopted by governments in the region, in support of vulnerable communities, especially women during the Covid-19 era, while emphasizing the need for gender mainstreaming to avoid policies that are not sensitive to gender differences and only increase inequality.
This event is part of a series of events organized by the regional platform of civil society organizations, established within the project “Support to mitigate the socio-economic consequences of the impact of Covid-19 on the most vulnerable groups of citizens”, jointly implemented by the Foundation Open Society – Macedonia, Open Society Foundation Albania (OSFA), Open Society Fund Bosnia & Herzegovina (OSF BH), Kosovo Foundation for Open Society (OSF Kosovo), и Open Society Foundation Serbia (OSFS).
—————————————————23 March 2021