International Women’s Day

Women Film Festival in Albania draws attention to the issue of violence against women

Date: Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Participants at the opening of the Women International Film Festival in Albania. Photo credit: Olsi Beçi/ UN Women Albania
Participants at the opening of the Women International Film Festival in Albania. Photo credit: Olsi Beçi/ UN Women Albania

The first ever, “Women International Film Festival” was organized in Albania on Friday, 8 March 2019 to commemorate International Women’s Day. The festival, which focused on the theme, "gender-based violence", was organized by UN Women in Albania in partnership with the Albanian National Center of Cinematography. The festival featured several documentaries and long and short movies by various international and national filmmakers and was free and open to the Tirana public from 8-11 March 2019.

The UN Resident Coordinator in Albania, Brian Williams in his address at the opening of the Festival spoke about the shared responsibilities to ensure gender equality.

“Gender equality is about power relations, and power dynamics are in every aspect of our lives, it is not just about government, the rule of law, is about what happens in the workplace, formally and informally and it is about what happens in our homes. Every one of us should think about what we should do, what changes in behavior we should make to affect those changes in power behaviors.”

The festival gave the opportunity for the public to recognize and reflect on the deeply rooted inequalities in the roles, rights and opportunities of men and women, attitudes and social norms that normalize gender-based violence, and the way these are manifested differently in various countries.

Speaking at the opening night of the event, Ema Andrea, the acclaimed Albanian actress and host of the Film Festival said, “I'm sure we [women] would have given a lot more to the society. We would have been somewhere else if, during our path of growing up and contributing to the society, we hadn’t been hindered by the absurd obstacles of the mentality we live in. And do not tell me you haven’t faced these absurd obstacles simply because you are women.”

One in two women in Albania experience, at least, a form of violence in their lifetime, including physical, psychological or sexual abuse. This pandemic devastates lives, causes untold pain and suffering.

A participant at the discussions during Women International Film Festival in Albania. Photo credit: Olsi Beçi/ UN Women Albania
A participant at the discussions during Women International Film Festival in Albania. Photo credit: Olsi Beçi/ UN Women Albania

The program of the festival covered various forms of violence against women, including online harassment, of which a dedicated panel discussion was organized in cooperation with the US Embassy. After screening the documentary, “Netizens”, students, youth organizations and panelists from UNICEF Albania, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and the US Embassy discussed ways to address and report digital abuse in Albania, its frequency and impact on the lives of women and girls. They also focused on the role of the institutions and the new generation in preventing cyber violence and challenging attitudes that normalize such behavior. 

“As the digital world consumes more and more of our daily lives, this new platform for bullying and criminal behavior has emerged.  We, as women, must critically examine the important policy questions raised in this film – about civil rights and online privacy, and the criminal justice consequences for cyber-bullying”, said Leyla Moses-Ones, Chargé d’Affaires of the US Embassy in Tirana.

The program of the Festival, which included features from Germany, Kosovo*, Slovenia, Ireland and the US, was supported by the Goethe Institute, the Slovenian Embassy, the US Embassy in Tirana, and the Irish Embassy in Athens, as well as Intesa San Paolo Bank in Albania.

*All references to Kosovo on this website shall be understood to be in full compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999).