4.2.10 Gender equality and cultural policies
The 2012 Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men replaced the previous 2006 Law. It contains the same definition of discrimination provided in the previous law, clarifies the reporting responsibilities of all public actors and obliges public authorities to adopt gender responsive strategic plans and budgets. It regulates the basic principles and special measures for equal opportunities for women and men, the responsibilities, tasks and obligations of the public entities etc. The main objective of the Law is to promote the principle of establishing equal opportunities for women and men in the political, economic, social, educational and other fields of social life. Other implemented legal measures in this direction are: the 2009 amendments to the Law on the Ombudsman which required the Office of the Ombudsman to establish a unit for "protection of citizens from discrimination"; the 2012 amendments to the Law on Labour Relations which expressly prohibit discrimination against women workers during pregnancy, maternity and parenthood regardless of the type or duration of work and the 2010 Law on Free Legal Aid which assists women without financial resources to access justice (For further reading see: UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, Concluding observations on the combined fourth and fifth periodic reports of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia adopted by the Committee at its fifty fourth session (11 February – 1 March 2013), United Nations CEDAW/c/mkd/co/4-5.
On the other hand, the 2008 Amnesty International Report stated that there was constant gender discrimination of Roma women and young girls, who are deprived of education, work or health insurance. It is estimated that over 66% of these women can find work only in the so called "grey economy".
At the end of 2011 the government adopted the Second National Action Plan for advancement of the social status of Roma women for the period 2011 - 2013. However, representatives of the Informal Network of Roma Women Associations and Activists sent an Open Letter to the Prime Minister saying that they fear that this Action Plan will also end on several informative meetings, workshops and partial analysis and without any concrete improvement. They stressed that the advancement of the status of Roma women in Macedonia is impossible without serious planning and financial means in the state budget. They pointed out that, after 6 useless years, it is high time for the government to take full responsibility for the Roma Decade.
In 2012 the Labour Law was amended to avoid employment discrimination, prohibiting employers to ask for a pregnancy test in the process of recruitment and / or to dismiss an employee because of pregnancy.