Association ESE


   Association for Emancipation, Solidarity and Equality of Women.

Association for Emancipation, Solidarity and Equality of Women - ESE, was founded in 1994 as Humanitarian Association for Emancipation, Solidarity and Equality of Women – HA ESE, targeting its work at improving the situation of the woman and her representation in the decision-making structures. We focused on the situation of the women in the transition period, with particular emphasis on the women in the rural regions and the marginalized women. Our spirit stems from the principle of equity and equality, and hence we are committed to representing all women, regardless of their religion, ethnicity and age.


In the Period 1994 – 1996

In 1994, we conducted the project entitled “Women and Education”. We distributed textbooks to those that were not able to provide them themselves. In 1995, a series of projects heralded the beginning of the changes: “Women and Health”, targeting the Roma and Albanian women; “Women and the Media”, allowing for a broader interpretation of the women issues and interests; and “Women and Their Employment Possibilities”, enabling 225 women from rural areas to acquire certificates for courses in sewing in cooperation with the Republic Bureau for Household Promotion.

Furthermore, in this period we marked the beginning of a very fruitful cooperation with some newly established organizations, such as: DAJA, the League of the Albanian Woman, the SOS Line of the Skopje Women Organization and a number of international organizations as well. We developed concepts that were later transformed into multi-year programs – health, legal and educational programs for equal opportunities of the women in the decision-making structures. The structure of our organization was soundly founded by the establishment of the Executive Board in 1995.   

In the Period 1996 - 1998

This period is of particular importance to our organization, since a number of processes took place aimed at enhancing the organizational capacities and the capacities of our employees as well. In 1997 and 1998, we developed our first annual programs. We set up the milestone of ESE’s work – the projects conducted hitherto were transformed into program activities. We significantly increased the number of our activities in the area of lobbying and raising the public awareness in a number of areas by organizing campaigns. We redirected our activity towards organizing educational events for lawyers, attorneys, politicians, health care workers and representatives of women non-governmental organizations in the sphere of emancipation. In addition, we continued our health education with the women from the rural areas. 

In the Period 1998 - 2003

In 1998, the Humanitarian Association ESE was renamed into Association for Emancipation, Solidarity and Equality of Women of Republic of Macedonia, expanding thus its area of work nation-wide. For the first time, we developed our three-year programs for 1998 – 2000 and 2000 – 2003, which enabled us to identify more easily the anticipated results, the indicators of all conducted activities and the effect achieved by them. In our work, we continued developing the organizational structure, enhancing the human capacities and promoting the strategies for accountability and transparency.     

In terms of our program, we expanded our activities by adding a three-year program entitled “Enhancement of the capacities of the Women NGOs for Health Care Education” in cooperation with the Macedonian Center for International Cooperation. We started off activities with women prisoners, which ranged from providing psychological and social support to them to increasing the possibilities for their successful reintegration. Major part of our educational activities targeted the young population. We enriched the programs with components designed for work with the general population. For the first time, the program for Legal Education and Action included direct services (legal counseling and representation) for women victims of domestic violence. Furthermore, we carry out intensive activities for representation and lobbying in order to accelerate the adoption of the related legislation.  

We established a strong organizational structure, including the General Assembly. In this period, ESE provided its own working premises and fully furnished them. We grew from a team of four members into an organization of ten members. We developed a clearly determined and defined structure and each of our employees accomplishes her/his working tasks in accordance with her/his job description.     


In the Period 2003 - 2006

ESE considers this period as a period of harvesting the fruits of its years-long work. Our lobbying activities were crowned by the adoption of concrete legal remedies in the existing legislation on domestic violence. We have become recognizable as an organization that has the capacity to represent and lobby for legal amendments that would allow for greater gender equality in our society. In addition to the help for the women victims of domestic violence, we enriched our direct services with health information and support provided by the Women’s Health Information centers. In the context of this component, in 2004 we opened the dispersed legal aid centers and the health information centers in Shtip and Tetovo. We supported these direct services concurrently with building of the human health care resources; we conducted a series of training events for designing health promotion interventions based on theories and facts, thus, enhancing, the capacities and network of our health care workers. We are especially proud of the achievements in all penitentiary and reformatory institutions throughout the country; the educational component on “Conflict Resolution” was conducted as a “train the trainer” event in the training center for prison staff. Furthermore, in the framework of the project “Health for All, Health for the Roma”, we trained 16 young leaders from the Roma community on their right to health and health care. In the course of 2004 and 2005, we conducted a series of successful campaigns in each of ESE’s programs; ESE presented the dark figure on domestic violence in Macedonia to the health sector in the framework of the international campaign for prevention of violence; we marked the World AIDS Day, 1 December, under the motto “Girls, Protect Yourselves”. On the occasion of the International Day of Action for Women’s Health on 28 May, we organized a campaign for access to health care to advertise the issue of women’s vulnerability to AIDS. During the parliamentary elections in 2004, we organized a campaign to promote women candidates and the amendment to the legislation proposed by ESE for 30% participation of women was adopted in Parliament with 41 votes. The promotion of both formal and informal system for protection of domestic violence victims was organized in the framework of the campaign “16 International Days of Activism for the Elimination of Violence Against Women”.

In anticipation of the announced withdrawal of the numerous developmental and donor agencies from this region, or more precisely, one of our traditional donors, we decided to take concrete steps. To that end, in June 2004, we conducted strategic planning and identified the following future priorities as our activities: providing direct services to target groups, lobbying for legal amendments and focusing on educational and informative activities. We introduced a new program entitled “Women’s Human Rights” to join our formerly separate programs for legal education and combating domestic violence. In addition, we harmonized our internal structure in line with our new program priorities. We established a development unit that will be the driving force in the implementation of our strategic commitment and for our sustainability.

In February 2005, we received the status of a “National monitor to stop violence against women”, which we used to help develop a www page as a comprehensive tool for representing the women’s interests in the Republic of Macedonia.   

In the course of 20005 – 2006, we initiated two major processes for introduction of an effective institutional response to domestic violence: unification of the civil and criminal justice systems and development of the National Program for Domestic Violence. These processes undertaken by ESE were financially supported by the USAID and the Institute for Sustainable Communities; ESE was also a grant user in the group for representation and local partnerships. These two initiatives will continue to be part of our program work in the forthcoming three-year period (2006 – 2009) as well.

In the period 2006 - 2009

Within this period, ESE is implementing its fourth three-year program 2006 – 2009.
We have been undertaking substantial steps in the fight against domestic violence in the framework of two processes: in partnership with Akcija Zdruzhenska, we initiated the process of Unification of the civil and criminal justice systems for protection against domestic violence. The Ministry for Labor and Social Policy, as our strategic partner, has undertaken activities for creation of a National Strategy for protection against domestic violence. In addition, we conducted a research on the phenomenon of domestic violence that later grew into a comprehensive multidisciplinary study. We also initiated a two-year process for prevention and suppression of domestic violence in the Republic of Macedonia. To that end, we will introduce a number of activities targeted at promoting the victim protection system through improvement of the quality of the existing protection measures. As part of this process, we will organize multidisciplinary education for the professional structures for the purpose of establishing a unified coordinated protection system for the domestic violence victims. The process will be implemented in cooperation with the Ministry for Labor and Social Policy and in partnership with WAVE (Women Against Violence Europe) from the Republic of Austria.

Keeping up with the intensive reforms of the health care system in the Republic of Macedonia, we provide direct help through our program Women and Health; moreover, we are also making certain changes to take into consideration the needs of the unprivileged groups. To that end, we are preparing a comprehensive study of the Roma population related to issues of health, health insurance and the factors that affect the Roma’s health. We will thus create the basis for development of a strategic document that will contribute to the improvement of the health condition of the Roma people. The condition of the population generally, in terms of their reproductive health, will be assessed through a study to be conducted throughout the territory of the Republic of Macedonia, which will serve as a direction for the policy makers in this sphere.

On the other hand, the reforms aimed at delegating authorities and responsibilities from central to the local level require additional efforts for implementation of the new local self-government concept. In this direction, our goal is to raise the awareness of the local communities of the decentralization process and increase the level of cooperation among the municipalities. We place a special emphasis on the improvement of the women’s position in the rural areas and their involvement in certain political processes.


In the period 2009 - 2012

In the period from 2009-2012, ESE remained dedicated to its mission. Namely, in the respective period we implemented activities which are continuation and upgrade of the results and achievements from the previous period; however, we also introduced and used new concepts and approaches for implementation of human rights.

With joint forces and efforts, i.e. by uniting the efforts in several fields, we worked intensively on the strengthening of the capacities of local authorities in the municipalities of Kochani and Tetovo. Together we prepared the local action plans in the sphere of improvement of reproductive health and protection from domestic violence. As result of the joint cooperation, the local action plans were adopted and included in the municipal budget in one of the municipalities. In 2012, we conducted the monitoring over the implementation of the local action plans and municipal budgets in order to establish the extent of their implementation. In addition, in the two municipalities, we carried out a pilot survey to establish the level of participation of the citizens in the local budgeting process; the knowledge of the citizens about the process; the level of transparency and accountability of local authorities and range of other issues.  

In the course of 2010, 2011 and 2012, we took a range of activities for the integration of the concept “monitoring and analysis of budgets” both on national and local level. On national level, we conducted the monitoring and analysis of the program for active health care of mothers and children. Later, these activities were enriched with the activities for “monitoring in the community” in cooperation with four local Roma organizations. The activities for monitoring in the community, i.e. the results from the monitoring helped us to create a more successful strategy for advocacy with regard to the immunization of Roma children. The activities for monitoring and analysis on national level, in 2012 were expanded with the monitoring and analysis of the Program for early detection of malign diseases. Namely, we conducted monitoring and analysis of the activities for detection of cervical cancer and activities for early detection and prevention of breast cancer. With regard to the integration of the monitoring and analysis of budget into the work of ESE, during the respective period, ESE’s staff attended several international and domestic trainings for strengthening of its own capacities. In addition to the trainings, the activities in these fields were implemented with technical assistance from leading world experts in this area.

In cooperation with the Roma organizations “CDRIM”, Skopje and “KHAM”, Delcevo, we introduced programs for paralegal assistance in the Roma communities in the municipalities of Suto Orizari and Delcevo. With the assistance from paralegals, we provided assistance and support for protection in the spheres of health care, health insurance and protection of patients’ rights of the local Roma population.

Through work on promotion and improvement of health rights, i.e. human rights in health care, we took activities to raise the awareness about the need for respecting these rights among the practitioners (lawyers, health workers and health associates). In parallel, we worked on increasing the level of awareness about patients’ rights and their protection among the general population, and in particular among certain categories of vulnerable citizens.

As part of the already established practice for monitoring and reporting to the international bodies with regard to the women’s human rights, in cooperation with the citizen association Akcija Zdruzenska and several other civic organizations, we prepared the “shadow report” concerning the Convention for Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. We conducted an analysis of the extent of implementation of the Concluding observations of the Committee for elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and we reported about the findings of the analysis in front of the members of the working group before the session of the Committee in 2012.


In the period 2013–2015

This period in ESE’s activities saw the establishment of methodologies and approaches initiated in 2010 as innovative and new. We intensively continued to enhance our work by applying new methodologies allowing for further improvements, and we began seeking for solutions to unify the methodologies and the different approaches into a single approach. Assistance and support offered to various vulnerable groups still was a significant part of our work and commitment to help those who needed it. Activities related to legal and judicial protection were taken one step beyond in ESE’s commitment to provide timely and suitable assistance and support to women victims of violence.

In 2013, 2014 and 2015 we continued to carry out activities for the purpose of improving Roma health (coverage of Roma children with vaccination and preventive health services, coverage of Roma women with preventive gynecological services and fulfilling the right to health care, health insurance and protection of the rights of patients); improving reproductive health of women (coverage of women with cervical and breast cancer screening); strengthening the capacities of civil organizations; and improving transparency and accountability of public institutions. Working towards achieving these goals, we used the following methodologies: social accountability – budget monitoring, community monitoring and social audit; legal empowerment – providing paralegal and legal assistance; and gender responsible budgeting. Practically in 2013, in addition to methodologies on budget monitoring and analysis and community monitoring, we began preparatory activities to apply the social audit methodology together with the Roma partner organizations.  After four years of hard work in applying methodologies on social accountability and legal empowerment, in 2014 we began with the process of strategic planning for their unification. More specifically, both approaches had a goal to improve the health of marginalized groups we had been working with, but having in mind to make them functional in the same environments and with the same target groups. The unification had a goal to increase efficiency of our work towards full use of opportunities and the benefit from this process. The cooperation with the Johns Hopkins University was of great significance to the unification of both approaches. In 2015 ESE in cooperation with experts from the Johns Hopkins University from Baltimore, USA, began a process of planning a survey on the impact of interventions for access to health rights of the Roma. However, once ECE drafted the questionnaire for Roma households (described in the section on Joining the concepts of social accountability and legal literacy and empowerment in this report), experts from the Johns Hopkins University offered to provide expert assistance both in the process of its finalization, and in the process of preparing a protocol for its implementation. Also, the process of entering Roma households to fill in the questionnaire was agreed to be used in order to measure the impact of both interventions ESE had implemented with partner organizations – social accountability and legal literacy and empowerment.

In order to overcome the problem with lack of relevant data on the health situation of the Roma population, including health determinants and access to health care, respect for human rights within the healthcare system, and the alignment of the domestic legislation with internationally stipulated standards for respecting and applying health rights, in 2013 the ESE team in cooperation with external experts carried out a research and prepared a study regarding these issues. Also on 8 November 2013, ESE in cooperation with the Roma partner organizations DCRIM, RRC, Lil and KHAM, organized a national conference on ‘The Health of the Roma – access, challenges and opportunities for improvements’. The goal was to present the basic concepts, used in the previous years by ESE and the partner organizations supported by the Open Society Foundation Macedonia, for improving the access to health services and the fulfillment of rights in the area of health care for the Roma.

Taking into account difficulties the Roma have been facing, ESE in cooperation with the Roma partner organizations including the Centre for Democratic Development and Initiative (CDRIM) – Shuto Orizari, the Roma Resource Centre (RRC) – Shuto Orizari, and the NGO KHAM – Delchevo, has been providing paralegal assistance and support to the local Roma population since 2011, in order to protect their health rights (rights of patients, rights to health care and rights to health insurance). In the period 2013-2015 we undertook a series of activities regularly implemented each year as an integral part of providing technical assistance and support to Roma partner organizations, including activities for institutional strengthening of the organizations, as well as strengthening the coordinators and the paralegals hired within the paralegal assistance programs, and improving the working method, the procedures used and data collection by paralegals. In 2013 and 2014 the team of paralegals was enhanced, first in the Village of Crnik, in the Municipality of Pehchevo, and later in Shuto Orizari. From 2012 until 2015 a total of 1988 Roma[1] were provided with paralegal assistance and support.

For the purpose of promoting human rights in the healthcare system, in 2013 and 2014 we continuously worked on renewal of the contents of both the Guidelines for Practitioners and the thematic webpage, as well as on building the capacities of legal experts and representatives of patients’ associations on the opportunities for strategic representation of certain cases of violations of the right to health and in relation to human rights in the healthcare system. 

In the period 2013-2015, at the Centre for Legal Assistance, the Psychological Counseling Service, and the Health Information Centre we continued to provide the necessary legal, psychological, and health information and assistance, including counseling and referral of clients to the corresponding institutions responsible for fulfilling their rights. Vulnerable categories of women. In this period we provided legal assistance to 605 women, and free legal representation at court to 11 women. Psychological support was provided to 136 women, and proper health information, advice and service was provided to 130 women.

Although envisaged as a pillar of the civil and legal system of protection, temporary measures for protection of victims of domestic violence were insufficiently implemented by the institutions with a legal mandate to initiate, impose, implement and monitor those measures. Therefore in 2013 ESE began activities to allow for significant improvements of the civil and legal system for protection, including proceedings in court cases to impose temporary measures for protection against domestic violence at four first instance courts in Macedonia. In partnership with La Strada and the Coalition for Health and Sexual Rights of Marginalized Communities, in 2014 ESE began to implement the USAID Women’s Legal Protection Project. This project was planned to be implemented in the period 2014-2017 and will result in improved implementation of national and international standards for court protection of women victims to discrimination and violence; improved national legal framework for protection of the rights of women; and more efficient provision of legal assistance to women victims of discrimination and domestic violence by civil organizations.

In the period 2013–2015 we prepared, submitted and presented shadow reports on three human rights documents. In 2013, within the process of the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council in Geneva we presented key areas of concern and recommendations for improving the health status of several vulnerable groups in Macedonia such as the Roma, people living with HIV/Aids, LGBT persons, women, persons with learning disabilities and victims of human trafficking. Also in 2013 in cooperation with Akcija Zdruzenska we reported about the situation of the position of women in Macedonia. In 2015 ECE began to draft a shadow report on the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (UN ICESCR) regarding the right to health, and submitted a special Report on additional issues related to the legal framework on protection of women victims of violence to the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. 

[1] In 2012, 587 Roma were provided with assistance and support; in 2013, 391 Roma were provided with assistance and support; in 2014, 500 Roma were provided with assistance and support, and in 2015, 520 Roma were provided with assistance and support.







Fiscal Transparency

Social accountability for gender equality

Health Rights

Domestic Violence 

Legal Aid Center

Health Information Centre