It is our pleasure to present you with the Annual Report of HERA for 2013. This was a year to mark a series of successful achievements and results of our mission. Seen in numbers, over 20 projects have been completed, more than 200 health and social workers have been trained, 1000 young people have been educated, 2 new services have been launched – a mobile gynaecological ambulance and a family centre against violence and more than 5000 individuals have been provided with medical and social services, mostly coming from socially excluded and marginalised communities.
By means of petitioning together with the citizens, promoting video materials and media advocacy, we have continued our battle for introduction of comprehensive sexuality education; together with Together Stronger we succeeded in our efforts to increase the national budget for antiretroviral drugs for people living with HIV. The Roma Health Mediators Programme has been successfully implemented for years now, including training of new mediators and increase in national helath budget funds intended for those activities. It was our special honour to have been presented an award of recognition from the US State Department for our activities and commitments to promote the rights of people with disabilities.
However, challenges in the political arena in safeguarding human rights were highly critical. Sexual and reproductive rights were intensively focused at by national policies, but mostly used for spreading hate and disapproval for LGBT rights and for delegitimizing women’s right of choice. LGBT people were ‘being thrown stones at’ and the new abortion act limited the freedom and the right of women to terminate her pregnancy. The new act was a punch to the liberal legal framework and women’s rights that had existed in the past forty years. HERA undertook the role of a leader in organising a series of activities to block the adoption of this legislation. Protests were organised in front of the Parliament, including lobbying and debates with MPs, ministers and the President of the Republic of Macedonia. Even though the legislation was adopted, we persisted in our efforts and together with other civil organisations we petitioned the Constitutional Court to assess constitutionality of the abortion act on grounds that it was against fundamental freedoms of individuals to choose how to plan their families.
In 2013 H.E.R.A. elected a new Executive Board and a president of the organisation, therefore we would like to express our deep gratitude to the previous board members and the President Dr. Milena Stevanovik for their dedication and commitment in the past 6 years. In the course of the year H.E.R.A. evaluated the current strategy and set out new priorities in the development framework for the next 4 years, to be adopted at the upcoming Assembly of members of the organisation in 2014. Sexual and reproductive health shall remain at the centre of our existence for the purpose of promoting human rights and fight against social exclusion and gender inequality.
At the end we would like to thank all of our volunteers, associates and donors who have provided support and have placed trust in us in the past years. Our fight to restore female dignity and gender equality, to protect and promote sexual rights and human rights shall continue.
Ninoslav Mladenovik – President
Bojan Jovanovski – Executive Director