Coverage: UN Women Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia and UN Women Chief of Staff in Albania
Date: Monday, August 8, 2016
UN Women Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia and Representative to Turkey Ingibjorg Gisladottir and UN Women Chief of Staff Khetsiwe Dlamini visited Albania from 3-4 August to meet with government representatives, civil society organizations, private sector leaders and other development partners. Their discussions focused on issues such as economic empowerment and the implementation of the Gender Equality Facility (GEF) in Albania, which supports the Government in the national adoptation of existing European Union (EU) legislation and directives on gender equality.
In their first day in Albania, UN Women Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia and Representative to Turkey Ingibjorg Gisladottir and UN Women Chief of Staff, Khetsiwe Dlamini focused on the success and challenges of the Gender Equality Facility (GEF) in Albania, a tool that supports the Government of Albania in adopting EU legislation and directives on gender equality. They met with development partners the Austrian Development Agency and the European Union in Albania and considered GEF a UN Women in Albania innovation that should be used to strengthen the national gender machinery.
Ms. Dlamini emphasized that the GEF model should be used in other countries in the region as well, and commended it: “The way you have put forward GEF is a big contribution of how gender equality is positioned.”
“The Austrian Development Agency has been instrumental for the GEF. We are grateful for initiating and developing this tool that will advance gender equality in Albania,” highlighted Ms. Gisladottir.
Enkelejda Lopari Bregu, International Aid/Cooperation Officer, for the EU Delegation in Albania, stated that the project adds value to their programmes, to the European Delegation in Albania and to the country itself. It aims to support the Government in implementing gender and socially responsive strategies, plans, policies, budgets, funds and priorities at a central and municipal level. The second phase of the project deals with implementation and enhancing engagement at the municipal level and raising awareness in local communities.
Ms. Gisladottir and Ms. Dlamini also met with Albi Greva, the Executive Director of Vodafone Foundation in Albania. UN Women in Albania in partnership with Vodafone Albania will launch a new campaign and a mobile appas part of the HeForShe initiative. The campaign will be spread via the mobile app in all stadiums during national football games, to attract men and boys, inviting them to be part of the gender equality movement.
Ms. Dlamini commended this innovative campaign that by targeting youth, men and boys and focusing on sports can initiate a movement.
“I am amazed what we have done in a year on the HeForShe initiative,” said Albi Greva, who is also a supporter of HeForShe and a gender equality advocate.
On the second day of their visit to Albania, UN Women Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia and Representative to Turkey Ingibjorg Gisladottir and UN Women Chief of Staff Khetsiwe Dlamini met with representatives of the Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth and discussed the role of the Ministry in advancing gender equality in the country.
Ms. Gisladottir congratulated the Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth on their report to the 64th session of the CEDAW Committee and reiterated UN Women’s support for the implementation of its recommendations.
“Albania has embraced the whole gender equality agenda. In a time when even developed countries are struggling to achieve gender equality, that is inspiring,” said Ms. Dlamini.
Ms. Merita Xhafaj, General Director of Social Policies, appreciated UN Women’s support for the development and implementation of strategies, policies and action plans, particularly for the law on social enterprises, and technical assistance during the preparations for the CEDAW report. She stressed the importance of increasing employment opportunities for women and empowering young women. They also discussed leveraging the Orange Day and 16 Days of Activism campaigns coordinated by UN Women to expand awareness and action on ending violence against women and girls.
Later that day, Ms. Gisladottir and Ms. Dlamini visited Albania's first feminist library, established by Gender Alliance for Development Center, which has partnered with UN Women on the application of gender-responsive budgeting and community-based scorecards — a technique that provides citizens the opportunity to express their priorities and monitor the achievements of local decision makers in order to improve the quality of services and enhance good governance.
Ms. Gisladottir and Ms. Dlamini also met with representatives of civil society and women’s organizations at New York Tirana Bagels, a social business run by an NGO that supports vulnerable women. Representatives explained their key challenges and difficulties in advocating for human and women’s rights.
Ms. Gisladottir and Ms. Dlamini met with Mimoza Dhembi, Director of Budget, Ministry of Finance. They discussed how to monitor the results and value of this initiative by making comparative analysis and emphasized the importance of gender-responsive budgeting in the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. Ms. Gisladottir emphasized that Albania is a role model on gender responsive budgeting with a total of 61 million USD in the budgets of 10 line ministries dedicated to the advancement of gender equality in the country.
Ms. Gisladottir and Ms. Dlamini’s final visit in Albania was to visit key UN Women partner Tirana Municipality, the largest municipality in the country, which is presently leading the work on women’s economic empowerment and engaging women councillors in gender-sensitive planning and budgeting and the first municipality to engagein the Safe Cities survey.
The Deputy Mayor of Tirana, Brunilda Paskali, introduced the Women’s Entrepreneurs’ Fund, which was prepared with the technical support of UN Women to support the development and expansion of business activities for women. This is the first time an Albanian municipality has dedicated a fund to women. They also discussed how to increase private sector signatories of the Women Empowerment Principles.