Here’s HERA’s Annual Report for the year 2020 – a year that will remain remembered for the COVID-19 pandemic. The invisible virus made the gender inequality and the systemic exclusion of the marginalized and vulnerable communities even more visible. It greatly reduced the capacity of health facilities, thus restricting the access to healthcare services even more for the less privileged and frequently stigmatized – and where the healthcare services were provided, they were often illegally charged.
With the support from our donors, we never closed our services – because taking care of the sexual and reproductive health must not stop in times of crisis. We doubled our psycho-social support to girls and women survivors of violence, and pregnant women were not left without their continuous antenatal care and counseling through mobile outpatient clinics. We distributed more than thousand humanitarian packages, free protection materials and vitamin therapy to those who have felt the socioeconomic consequences of the pandemic the most – the Roma people, people with disabilities and sex workers. And our social enterprise, Nega Plus, helped more than 200 elderly persons in Skopje by buying them groceries and providing home care.
In times when schools were closed and the movement of people restricted, digital technology helped us continue our sexuality education of the young people. In addition to the peer educations, HERA Youth came up with the Feminist Book Club – a safe place where girls can have open discussions about the feminist movement. In 20202, after ten years of fighting for integration of sexuality education in our education system, this optional subject has finally become a part of the proposed primary education reforms.
Finally, 2020 also marked 20 years since the foundation of HERA. The pandemic prevented us from properly celebrating our jubilee, but it could not keep us from remembering our success, from rewarding some of our associates and activists, and from making the commitment to further contribute to a world where all people can freely celebrate their sexuality and live in social peace.