Netherlands Embassy in Tirana, Albania

International Women’s day, 8th March 2015

By Ambassador Dewi van de Weerd

On the occasion of International Women’s day, the Dutch Embassy took the initiative of inviting several women influentials in Albania to discuss political participation of women in the country.

Ilva Tare, a well-known journalist who has her own TV show, hosted three female politicians, Minister of Culture Mirela Kumbaro from the SP, Majlinda Bregu from the DP and Monika Kryemadhi from SMI, as well as three female ambassadors, Zineb Touimi-Benjelloun from the UN, Romana Vlahutin from the EU and myself from the Netherlands. You can watch the show aired on the 9th of March on the link in the menu on the right.

We discussed women in politics, how to combine a career with your personal life and what should happen in Albania in this regard. In June 2015 local elections will take place in Albania. Currently, as an initiative of a group of women MPs, an amendment to the Electoral Code is being discussed in the Albanian Parliament which introduces ‘gender quota’ in municipal elections and women representation in political party lists of candidates running for mayorship, where at least 20% of the proposed Mayor candidates have to be women.

In the spirit of gender quota and the debates it has generated in Albanian public and politics, MP Majlinda Bregu emphasized the importance of not only having “gender quota” in paper but also enforcing them. This should be done not only in Parliament and at the local governance level, but also in the public and private sector, as a direct way to support women empowerment.

In the debate, I underlined the importance of economic empowerment of women, in order to get more balanced and equal decision making in society. I have personally always worked full time and shared the responsibilities for our family of three kids with my husband. Men are getting more ready to take up care taker tasks and spend time with their kids, so work at work and work at home could be shared more evenly among women and men.

When more women will be in formal power, they might be more moderate as political leaders, which could contribute to a better political atmosphere in Albania. It is important to involve men in this emancipation and get their buy in to realise this. But women should also be more confident and help and support each other where possible in attaining this goal.

The discussion was lively, and we will continue it in the months to come towards the local elections at the end of June.