From Where I Stand: “Women in rural areas are speaking up about their rights”Luljeta Kaculi, 49, has been the Administrator of Labinot-Fushe, an Administrative Unit in Elbasan region, in central Albania, for four years. She spends part of her day doing field visits and one of her daily tasks is dealing with cases of domestic violence in the six villages of her Administrative Unit. Together with 11 local administrators of Elbasan, she recently participated in a UN Women-led training on the legal obligations of administrators to manage cases of violence and refer them to the relevant institutions.
The area I am managing has around 7000 inhabitants and I know almost all of them. Of course, women feel more comfortable to come and talk to me about the issues they face. For people in rural areas, because of social stigma, it is difficult to talk about discrimination and violence in their families. Some women suffer from violence their whole lives.
However, at the community forums that we have been organizing, I have noticed that domestic violence is no longer considered a family issue. Men and women have started to talk, and you see women becoming more emancipated. Today, I see a huge difference compared to seven years ago, when I started working in the Department of Social Care and had regular contact with vulnerable women. Isolation at home used to make them feel insecure and withdrawn. Today, they are not as stifled or shy – they seek their freedom.
I think the situation has changed because women have gained economic independence. Many of them have jobs and are more socialized with each other and can talk about their problems. At community meetings, I see that people are more open to talk about equality and women’s rights.”
Following the training, for the first time, Ms. Kaculi referred five cases of domestic abuse to the relevant institutions for follow up. She was highly engaged in organizing community forums to raise awareness about violence against women and inform community members about services available for survivors of violence. The training and the community forums were organized by Woman Forum in Elbasan, a local non-governmental organisation, as part of the UN Women regional programme ‘Implementing Norms, Changing Minds’ supported by the European Union. Ms. Kaculi’s work relates to Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality and women’s empowerment, which also targets ending violence against women and girls.