In May 2018, Anita Angelovska Bezhoska became a member of a rarefied group when she was appointed governor of the National Bank of the Republic of North Macedonia.
The first woman to ever hold the office, Bezhoska became only the fourth female governor in Europe, at the time of her appointment. The number has since fallen to three. But when she was offered the job, she very nearly turned it down.
“I am a mother of three children. When I got the offer, being aware of the huge responsibility of the role, I was really hesitant,” she said. “I was unsure of whether I would be able to deliver what was required and it was a challenging time for me.”
In many countries, traditional gender roles are still in place. In North Macedonia, women are expected to run the household and only recently has it become widely acceptable for them to have careers of their own.
Bezhoska’s first job was at the finance ministry, where she led a group tasked with establishing a treasury system after her country emerged from the breakup of Yugoslavia. “It really was a great opportunity for me, who had just started out,” she says.
She then moved to the International Monetary Fund, where she was part of numerous missions, before heading back to Macedonia to take up the post of chief economist. Three years later she was appointed to the role of vice-governor and a year later, governor.
“Women are underrepresented in senior positions at central banks,” she says. “I must admit it is not a pleasant feeling when you enter the room [of high level meetings], and you are the only female entering that room.”
In Europe, only three countries have women at the head of their central banks: Russia, Serbia and North Macedonia. There are a number of central banks in the region where senior management positions are up for grabs, but many of the final choices will be influenced by politics.
In North Macedonia, only 40% of women work. But at the central bank, 60% of management positions are held by women, including two of the institution’s vice-governors, who were appointed by Bezhoska.
00:00 Series recap
01:00 Building a career
06:00 Feeling alone
12:10 Setting the standard
15:20 Preparing for the euro
21:05 Help from abroad
To hear the full interview, listen in the player above, or download. Future podcasts in our CB On Air: Womenomics series will be uploaded to centalbanking.com. CB On Air is also available via iTunes or podcast apps and from Google Podcasts (Android only).