UN Women Deputy Executive Director Åsa Regnér on first official visit to Albania


Tirana, 26-27 May 2022 - The Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, Åsa Regnér, visited Albania and met with high level government representatives, civil society organizations, and international partners. Her visit focused on Albania’s progress towards achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment and the promotion of gender equality as a key factor in advancing EU integration. This is the first high level visit by a UN Women Representative in the country.

During her meeting with the Prime Minister, Edi Rama, Ms Regnér praised Albania’s significant achievements in the area of gender equality, including in the area of women’s leadership and political participation, while at the same time noting remaining challenges to accelerate and sustain progress, including with regard to women’s safety and security and their economic empowerment, particularly in rural areas.

“UN Women remains available to support the Government in addressing these challenges and delivering on its national and international commitments on gender equality,” highlighted UN Women Deputy Executive Director.

Prime Minister Edi Rama noted: “Our Government is determined that the achievements and gains in women empowerment and gender equality in the country become sustainable and an integral part of our daily lives.”

UN Women Deputy Executive Director, Åsa Regnér meeting Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama. Photo: UN Women/Eduard Pagria

During the meeting with Minister of Health and Social Protection, Ogerta Manastirliu, the discussion centered on the implementation of Albania’s new Strategy for Gender Equality 2022-2030 and ways to ensure adequate investments to achieve gender equality objectives.

Among other high-level talks, Ms. Regnér met with the Minister of Finance and Economy, Delina Ibrahimaj, whom she congratulated on the significant progress made in the area of gender-responsive budgeting (GRB). Albania is among the few (19%) countries globally to have a functioning tracking system for monitoring allocations and expenditures in support of women empowerment, thanks to support by UN Women Albania. The country has managed to increase investments for the advancement of gender equality over the years.

UN Women Deputy Executive Director, Åsa Regnér meeting Minister of Finance and Economy, Delina Ibrahimaj. Photo: UN Women Albania/Eduard Pagria

Ms. Regnér also met with Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Ermonela Felaj, to discuss the role of Parliament in supporting the implementation of gender equality commitments, and offered support in continuing to align the Albanian legal framework to international human rights standards.

During her high-level meetings, UN Women Deputy Director also urged government officials to develop a second National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, to further support women’s full participation in key sectors while strengthening prevention of and responses to gender-based violence.

UN Women Deputy Executive Director, Åsa Regnér meeting Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Ermonela Felaj. Photo: UN Women Albania/Eduard Pagria

UN Women Deputy Director had the opportunity to meet with several civil society organizations, recognizing their valuable contribution in continuing to protect and promote Albanian women’s rights.

During her two-day visit, Ms Regnér also met with the Ambassador of Sweden to Albania, Elsa Håstad, and the Head of Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), Petra Burcher. She thanked Sweden for being a strong partner and supporter of UN Women and for its work in Albania to fully deliver on the 2030 Development Agenda.

The European Union Delegation was another stop on UN Women Deputy Director’s visit to the country. Ms Regnér thanked the Head of Development Cooperation, Hubert Perr, for the continuous financial support and strategic partnership in promoting women’s rights and gender equality in Albania.

Ms Regnér also visited a re-integration center for women survivors of violence run by the Different and Equal organization. UN Women is supporting them to provide long-term re-integration services to survivors, with the financial contribution of the European Union and the Government of Sweden.

On the second day of her visit, Ms. Regnér travelled to Kamza, to one of UN Women’s activities in Albania implemented with the contribution of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). The project promotes the economic empowerment of women affected by the 2019 earthquake. She met with women entrepreneurs who are being supported to grow their businesses.

“The support from UN Women came right after the pandemic and the earthquake which caused us great financial loss. But the training opened up our minds for new ideas and products and the possibility to expand our business and employ other women too”, said Miliha Zyberaj, an entrepreneur who has been making traditional embroidery for many years and now owns a small business.

UN Women Deputy Executive Director, Åsa Regnér meeting women led businesses in Kamza. Photo: UN Women Albania/Eduard Pagria

“I was honored to meet strong and passionate Albanian women who are determined to make their dreams come true,” Ms Regnér said during her visit to UN Women’s supported businesses and women-led initiatives in Kamza.

She also met with women who are cultivating medicinal and aromatic plants and are assisted by the same UN Women programme through the SDG Acceleration Fund.

Ms. Regnér has served as Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Deputy Executive Director of UN Women for Policy, Programme, Civil Society and Intergovernmental Support since 2018.