Can you introduce yourselves and how you became a union member?
Ivana Dimitrova: I work on the biggest infrastructure project in Macedonia, building the motorway of Ohrid to the city of Kicevo. I am in charge of the construction of the bridges.
On my first job interview, I was rejected because I was considered “too cute” to work with male workers. It was clear discrimination, but I wanted the job so much that I applied again, only to be rejected. I did not give up. I applied again and was finally hired.
I joined the union as soon as I started to work because I was told that being a union member had many advantages. I also wanted to make sure I would never be discriminated again for being a woman.
After some time, the SGIP asked me to participate in a BWI interview. That is when I met
It was a great challenge but thankfully I received assistance from the union. I was then hired by the SGIP as an expert in economic issues in the area of wages and collective bargaining.”
Ivana has talked of you as an important mentor for her in the union. How has this relationship developed?
What makes a good mentor?
What advice would you give to young women who have just joined the union?
Ivana: To believe in themselves, to support the idea that together we are stronger, to learn more because knowledge is the key of gaining strength and power, to ask questions and not be afraid of failure, and to take actions instead of waiting for someone else to solve the problems.
What is the biggest challenge for women leaders in trade unions?
Ivana: It is a challenge working with men who do not think that women are for fighting for better rights and working conditions for everyone. My biggest challenge was getting people to trust me. Being a leader is not just being ”The Big Boss”, it is much more. It is very satisfying when you have the power to act on behalf of 2,000 who support me.
Do you expect more from women trade union leaders than male trade union leaders?
Ivana: Everything is changing. When I started I was considered “cute” but today I am one of the most successful engineers in the country and the leader of the country’s biggest company. I think women have
How do you think men can support women and the campaign for gender equality?
Ivana: Men should be engaged in all aspects of the campaign for gender equality. They should listen to what women deal with every day in the workplace and the home to better understand the challenges we face. They have wives, sisters, daughters