Empowering Communities through Gender participatory budgeting
Albania and North Macedonia counterparts share best practices in gender budgeting and community outreach.
A two-day workshop on gender participatory budgeting and community outreach practices brought together civil society organizations, local government representatives, activists, and gender-responsive budgeting experts from Albania and North Macedonia. The participants exchanged experiences on the implementation of participatory budgeting and shared best practices on the effective use of gender-responsive local budgeting.
The workshop was organized in Pogradec, southeastern Albania, by UN Women, as part of the UN Joint Programme “Leave no one behind” funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.
A gender participatory budgeting mechanism can significantly enhance gender representation and address the needs of women and girls in local communities through several key mechanisms. This process serves as a powerful tool for transforming communities by ensuring that the needs, concerns, and aspirations of women and girls are not only recognized but also actively integrated into the local decision-making and resource allocation processes.
The workshop was organized in collaboration with the UN Women North Macedonia office and “Today for the Future” partner organization and focused on training participants on how to demand gender-sensitive social services and actively engage in local decision-making and budgeting processes.
A key contributor in the knowledge sharing exercise was the PRISMA network – composed of CSOs, activists, academics, the media, women entrepreneurs, and municipalities working together to improve gender participatory budgeting processes in Albania. The network has been established on a voluntary basis, as part of LNB project initiatives on participatory budgeting processes implemented by UN Women in collaboration with the “Today for the Future” Community Development Center.
Women Driving Success in Pogradec
Talking about the focus of gender equality policies in Pogradec, Mr. Ilir Xhakolli, the town’s mayor, believes that placing women in leadership roles is a guarantee to success. “Today, the majority of the Pogradec municipal offices staff are women and girls. Our policies prioritize gender equality, providing tangible support through concrete budgetary actions, such as the establishment of a social fund to support abused or vulnerable women.'"
Local Impact - Municipality of Tirana
An exemplary success story emerged from the Tirana municipality, where the integration of the gender budgeting processes led to 64 public hearings across all administrative units and an additional 35 in community centers. Mrs. Migena Kokeri, Director of Protection and Social Inclusion stated that “this is our first significant step towards fulfilling women's community needs. We won’t stop until we find solutions for all women and girls' needs raised during the consultation process. The information and data collected from those meetings will inform new municipality policies, which will be addressed in our new local action plan".
A Smiley Day in Durrës
Mrs. Meme Xhaferaj, Director of Social Services at Durrës municipality, highlighted the transformative power of collective voices. "When women are united, their voices will be heard. I won’t forget the smile on five women's faces when they learned about the approval of their request for a small kindergarten facility in their village, which they had submitted during a public participatory budgeting process. That local administrative unit now has its own brand-new kindergarten, the first in 30 years. The children are happy and their mothers do not have to worry about them while they are at work".
Prioritizing Public Concerns in Lezha
Lezha Municipality demonstrated its commitment to addressing public concerns by opening two new kindergartens and refurbishing parks in the town. Also, the concerns of women and girls about street lighting in the town’s neighborhoods have been heard and the municipality has allocated a fund for the provision of a lighting infrastructure covering 80% of the city. In addition, Mrs. Marte Fetaj, Director of Social Services, emphasized the crucial role of civil society in drafting gender-responsive action plans and that the municipality is looking forward to UN Women’s assistance with this process.
Changing Mindsets in Elbasan
Mr. Ervin Muco, Director of Social Services at Elbasan municipality, emphasized the transformative essence of gender participatory budgeting. He stated that the participatory approach goes beyond mere mechanical procedures; instead, its fundamental nature is organic and dynamic. Mr. Muco highlighted the success of this methodology by noting a significant achievement: 40% of women actively participating in public hearing processes as a result of the implementation of gender participatory budgeting.
The workshop participants shared examples of the power of community-driven initiatives and emphasized the need for gender-responsive policies and budgets to create positive change at the grassroots level. The stories from Pogradec, Tirana, Durrës, Lezha, and Elbasan underscore the importance of empowering communities to shape their destinies and build a more inclusive society.
The workshop was organized as part of the UN Joint Programme 'Leave No One Behind', implemented by four UN Agencies: UN Women, UNDP, UNFPA and UNICEF. The programme aims to empower women and girls in the local community, ensuring their equal access to public services and active involvement in local decision-making and budgeting processes.