Ekvalis programs include young girls and women from diverse backgrounds who bring valuable contributions into our programming. Gender is an intertwining topic in many projects and programs that Ekvalis runs. Ekvalis has facilitated many programs that are centered around the needs of young girls and women and that are led by women themselves.
One of the first programs when Ekvalis was founded was the program “What’s Gender Got to do With It“ (implemented in 3 different volumes throughout the years) which has enabled the exchange of ideas, visions and possibilities in which girls and women are free from violence, where the patriarchal norms do not determine the lives of women and where systematic oppression is dealt with directly by those who are oppressed.
Ekvalis has worked in various creative ways of addressing gender stigma, gender violence and gender expectations. Through implementing the youth program on feminist slam poetry, Ekvalis mentored and equipped young girls and women to address how gender stigma and gender oppression pose barriers to their development. They have worked with one of the most famous slam poetry performers to prepare feminist slam poetry performances which were performed in public spaces that are significant for women (public spaces where sexual harassment usually occurs, monuments of famous women historical figures, government institutions or cultural spaces).
Through our training programs, we have equipped the representatives in the student bodies to advocate and act in increasing women representation in the higher structures of these bodies. There was a significant decrease of women’s representation in positions of power when it comes to structural organizing in high schools. Ekvalis has empowered and motivated many young girls to submit their candidacy for those positions.
Ekvalis’s gender programs have worked with young boys and men who occupy spaces in terms of holding power in certain men dominated areas, and tried to sensitize them on how to build an environment that is gender inclusive, not just in terms of gender as a binary construct, but beyond that by involving transgender and non-binary students and other LGBITQ+ students.
By being part of the Platform for Gender Equality together with our partners, we have publicly addressed, condemned, protested and marched against many injustices that women deal with such as femicides, the ‘Public Room’ case in which young girls and women were sexually harassed online, but also focused on the inability of the institutions to address gender in their governance and the need to enable building save environments for all women and girls.
Ekvalis works with many young people, but also adults who identify as part of the LGBTIQ+ community. In a country like North Macedonia where the prevalence of violence towards this community is high, Ekvalis has been providing a safe space (both physical, but also in terms of programs) for those community members. We have hosted numerous youth who felt unsafe either at home or at school and who have found a platform that included them in a co-creating space, where their identity can be celebrated, instead of hidden or subjected to violence.
Ekvalis is openly, visibly and unapologetically taking stance for advancing the LGBTIQ+ rights in North Macedonia. This has been mainly ensured through the education of youth who are part of the community and focused on ensuring the full acceptance of their identities, working with their heterosexual peers and building alliances with them and sometimes even their parents. Ekvalis has worked with a small group of teachers and trained them on how to provide a safe classroom environment for their LGBTIQ+ students.
In our media programs, we have worked on advancing positive representation of LGBTIQ+ people in the media through creating a gender and LGBTIQ+ newspaper which was distributed in several high schools, through campaigns for raising the awareness of the media around LGBTIQ+ equality and worked on combating fake information regarding the LGBTIQ+ youth spread by anti-democratic groups.
Ekvalis is active in analyzing and monitoring the effects that the anti-gender movement has had on the daily life on LGBTIQ+ people, with a particular focus on LGBTIQ+ youth. Ekvalis has trained a group of activists to monitor the work that the anti-gender movements are doing in schools or in their local communities and that pose a serious threat to democracy and enabling of save environments.
Ekvalis is a member of the National Network against Homophobia and Transphobia – an informal network of citizens’ associations and informal groups that work together to promote the guarantee and enjoyment of the human rights of LGBTI+ people in the Republic of North Macedonia. We are also member of ERA- LGBTI Equal Rights Association for Western Balkans and Turkey – a Regional Association of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex and queer organizations from Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia and Turkey. Ekvalis is also part of the organizing committee of Skopje Pride.