UN Women, FAO and Italian Cooperation launch new initiative to support rural women and development in Albania

Date: Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Left to right - Michele Ribotta, UN Women Representative in Albania, Milva Ekonomi, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Fabrizio Bucci, Italian Ambassador, Arben Kipi, FAO Representative in Albania. Photo:  UN Women Albania
Left to right - Michele Ribotta, UN Women Representative in Albania, Milva Ekonomi, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Fabrizio Bucci, Italian Ambassador, Arben Kipi, FAO Representative in Albania. Photo: UN Women Albania

10 February 2021 – UN Women, FAO and the Italian Cooperation launched today a three-year initiative that will contribute to rural women’s empowerment in Albania and will strengthen women’s roles and contribution to rural development.

In collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Gender Rural Equality and Tourism (GREAT) programme will be implemented in the Regions of Shkoder, Vlore and Gjirokaster, contributing to sustainable economic development of rural women and their communities by increasing their income and ability to obtain work.

Women’s contribution to agriculture in Albania is vital, with 54 percent of employed women working in this sector. However, such contribution often remains invisible because of the high levels of informality, which often leaves them without protection or social benefits.

Present at the presentation of the project, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Milva Ekonomi said: “Women represent the largest part of the labor force in agriculture and they need to be acknowledged and supported and through the GREAT project we aim to empower them. Undoubtedly, they will have an increased role in decision-making and they will be empowered as initiators of some value chain changes."

“Empowering rural communities with adequate economic opportunities contributes significantly to Albania’s sustainable development, so long as such efforts put rural women squarely at the centre as agents of change”, says UN Women Representative Michele Ribotta.

The programme will aim to develop the capacities of rural women to develop their own business, to self-organize and register as local groups and to improve their access to finance. Simultaneously, GREAT will support targeted municipalities to prioritize and promote rural women’s businesses, rural tourism and value chain development.

"This is a journey we are proud to embark on together with UN Women, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, FAO! Our goal is to help increase women's entrepreneurship in agriculture, while supporting their empowerment and, at the same time, economic, social and tourist development of the interested areas”, - emphasized the Italian Ambassador to Albania Fabrizio Bucci.

Rural women in Albania face many challenges to their economic security, such as:  lack of financial support, a weak access to secure land rights, a limited understanding of which businesses are profitable, limited availability to enter the labour force due to disproportionate engagement in unpaid activities and, high dependence from family members.

"FAO will contribute to this project by developing value chains, including the 'from farm to tourist' approach, territorial certification and the promotion of authentic products, specifically produced by rural women," said FAO Representative in Albania, Arben Kipi.

The programme will promote a policy and legislative environment to strengthen women’s economic empowerment and their access to and control over productive assets.

The programme GREAT was developed based on the needs identified by UN Women and FAO in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, following recommendations of  different studies and country assessments undertaken these entities. Its main goals are aligned with the priorities of the Government and the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS Tirana), in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its core principle of leaving no-one behind.