Women – the driving force behind the success of the Community Works Programme

“Taking part in the Community Works Programme was the first time I had a chance to work away from home and earn my own money,” says Divna Tomeva Jovanova, a young mother from Stip. “It’s a great feeling to finally be independent and be doing something for myself and others!”
Divna’s words echo the feelings of the many women who have found employment through participation in the Community Work Programme—a programme first launched in 2012 with the double aim of providing work opportunities for the long-term unemployed and of improving services for vulnerable people throughout the country.
Some 400 women in 42 municipalities have participated in the Programme over the past three years, all of whom had previously been unemployed. For many the Programme provided their first experience of work outside the home.
A turning-point in women’s lives

A nurse by training, Divna was unable to find work after completing her education. “There just weren’t any jobs available in my home town,” she explains. “And after I had my first child I couldn’t even get an interview. I was starting to lose hope I’d ever be able to make a living. Then I learnt about this programme and decided to give it a go—there was nothing to lose and a lot to gain. ”

Divna joined the Community Works Programme in 2014 and soon put her caring skills to use by working with people with disabilities, visiting them in their homes and helping them with daily chores. “It was just four hours a day at first,” she says, “But it made a huge difference to my sense of self-worth. I felt like a useful member of society for the first time in years.”
After six months of working with the Programme, Divna had gathered the will and determination to succeed in finding a job as a nurse at a hospital in Stip. Since then she has started building the career she wants and is now working full-time at a private outpatient clinic. “The Programme was a turning-point in my life,” she says. “When you’ve been out of work for a long time you need that boost to get you active again—for me it was a lot about self-respect.”

From Programme to AssociationEmel Cico is another young woman for whom participation in the Community Works Programme has proved a turning-point. “I worked at the Donations Centre as part of the Programme,” she explains, “and that experience helped to convince me that helping people is my real vocation. It opened my eyes to the problems faced by people in rural areas and it gave me the confidence to believe I could do something to contribute.”

After working for the Programme, Emel got together with several other women from her home town of Struga to form a Women’s Association called Hayat 2015. The Association works with people from socially vulnerable families, primarily in rural areas.

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“I’m sure I wouldn’t have had the courage to set up the Association if it hadn’t been for the opportunity I had to work with the Programme,” she says, “But here I am — and now we’re busy planning on ways to improve out outreach and services.”

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Training Opportunities

In 2015 the Community Works Programme was extended to provide 56 unemployed women with the opportunity to receive specialised training in taking care of the elderly. So far, seven of these women have already found jobs. Amongst these are three women from the municipality of Berovo— Rumena, Verica and Andrijana—all of whom had previously had no professional experience. The three women are now working in the Dr Ivan Vlaski state institution for care of the elderly.
“The project helped me get qualifications and skills to take care of the elderly,” says the youngest of the three, Verica Stojoska. “Currently I’m working in a state institution, but in the long run I’m planning to start up my own home for the elderly.”

538 people have participated in the Community Works Programme since it began, 75% of them women.

Over 10,000 people have already felt the benefits from the services provided through this programme, with each municipality launching schemes of part-time work experience in areas such as care for the elderly, services for people with disabilities, and early childhood development.

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