More than 110 Associations and Social Enterprises Joined for Stronger Society
“This Festival celebrates civil society and its contribution to society and citizens”, said the Ambassador of Switzerland in the country, H.E. Véronique Hulmann at the official opening of the Day of the CSOs and Social Enterprises which took place on 24 September 2022 in front of the Army Hall, behind “Mother Theresa” Memorial House in Skopje. “Strong, diverse and dynamic civil society is an important dimension for the functional democracy”, she added. For Ambassador Hulmann, the challenges remain and the basic values are under pressure. “The polarization among the citizens, corruption risks, inefficient use of resources, discrimination, poverty, energy crisis and climate changes. In these turbulent times, the role of the civil society becomes even more important, not only to provide services for the people, but also to help policy creators find solutions to current and upcoming problems”, she said.
“The contents of this Fair speak about the advancement of social entrepreneurship. The topic is very important for EU, and also close and dear to me as well”, said the EU Ambassador to RNM, H.E. David Geer in his address. Speaking about figures, he stressed that the social economy in the EU is 10% of all businesses, and 13 million people, or 6% of the people in the EU work in social enterprises, sustainable enterprises. “But it even more important that they share the ambition of positive influence on the whole society, putting the people on the first place and using the profit to achieve social goals”, added Ambassador Geer.
Fatmir Bytyqi, the Vice Prime Minister, started his address with his own experience in the civil sector, more than 20 years ago. “Then, the fairs that we organized were for CSOs only, now we are a step ahead and social enterprises are also included in the events”, he said. According to him, the location where Civica Mobilitas Festival took place was also symbolic, the “Mother Theresa” Memorial House. “She did not aim for the Nobel Prize for Economy, but she rather worked with the people whom she had found in front of her own house. CSOs and social enterprises do the same – they take care about the people with less possibilities”, said Bytyqi. He also appealed for solidarity, not to have big profits on the expense of the citizens, not only because it is not solidary, but it will reflect on the future generations. “The moving force are the people with their ideas, without you nothing with you everything!”, he said.
The programme started with several performances with which the organizations drew the attention to the issues related to environment protection, especially the disappearance of the bees, the need of bigger inclusion of children with disabilities, and they will also send a message for peace.
“The Festival is a place where we as organizations have the possibility to spend time together, get to know each other, and why not, to also open a possibility for future cooperation. Because we are stronger together and the stronger we are the bigger the pressure to the government and institutions for their more efficient work and improvement of the services to the citizens”, they say at the Centre for Change Management (CCM), regular participants at the Festival whose focus this year was working with women entrepreneurs and support to their businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Association for Legal Education and Transparency “Station Five” from Prilep and the Association for Protection of the Rights of Users of Consumer Loans Loan Protect from Skopje participated in the Civica Mobilitas Festival for the first time. For them, this was a good opportunity to promote their work in front of the organizations, and at the same time meet their colleagues and future collaborators.
The main topic of this year’s festival is “Reclaiming the Civic Space” and it was organized in cooperation with the Centre for Social Enterprises. The civic activists cleaned the space where the event took place several days before the Festival, they restored the benches and placed garbage cans. In this way, the organizers leave the space to the citizens as a place where they can discuss, debate, exchange experience and ideas. Citizen areas are foundation stones of each open and democratic society. When this space is open, the citizens and CSOs can get organized, participate and communicate without obstacles. In this way, they can defend their rights and influence the political and social structures around them. Therefore, we appeal together for reclaiming the civic space by the citizen.
The programme was rich and diverse. Environment and climate changes will this time also be presented via presentations and quizzes, and part of the organizations will dedicate their events to health via Various presentations, HIV testing, to activities for protection of mental health and art therapy. There were separate debates on the importance of HIV infection protection, conflicts between parents and their influence on the children and recognition and managing stress and minimizing the harmful effects of drug use and sexual work and marginalized communities.
Civica Mobilitas had its fifth edition, and the programme started at 10:00 hrs and lasted until 16:00 hrs. More than 110 CSOs and social enterprises came from the whole country to present their activities and results to the interested citizens.
The festival is part of the Civica Mobilitas project of the Swiss Embassy in the country.