Albania marks International Women’s Day, highlighting issues of abuse, empowerment
TIRANA, March 8 – For a lot of people in Albania, International Women’s Day is a big of a deal. On this day, women reward themselves to celebrations, lunches, makeovers, friendly gatherings while a limited few hit exclusive strip clubs.
International Women’s Day is believed to turn 106 this year, but the original aim of gender equality seems no longer a cause as women and men still overlook the day’s historical significance.
Many celebrations and activities were held around the country honoring women and her role in the Albanian society was once more incorporated to a political based activity.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Rama was the single man invited in an activity on women, organized by his wife. In his speech, Rama called on men to not fear “the prominence of women.”
“I can assure all men that the less they fear the prominence of women, the safer and protected they will be,” Rama said in an activity organized by his spouse, Linda Rama.
“Women must not be at the center of the attention, only when they are part of news stories,” she said.
Meanwhile, opposition leader Lulzim Basha addressed party supporters in the tent erected in front of the prime minister’s office and accused Rama of setting up a power model that violates Albanians and women in particular.
Basha used the International Women’s Day to answer a question that most probably kept many Albanians up at night.
“Today we will take example on the courage of women and decided to hold civil assemblies for free and fair elections all over Albania and not to boycott elections. They will not get away so easily,” Basha said.
Mayor Veliaj took a lighter approach to celebrating the day. Women all over the capital were given a free pass in all public transports, while the mayor held a casual lunch with women in need in the social diner in Lapraka.
This is a day of solidarity. We must help each other out, Veliaj said.
In remote areas of Albania, International Women’s Day goes unnoticed. In the northern districts, many women continue to do hard labour and can’t seem to escape poverty, misery and domestic violence, even for a day.
Regardless of the legal framework, violence against women in Albania is still a widespread problem. The Women and Men in Albania 2016 report published by Albania’s Institute of Statistics shows that in the course of 2010-2014, there was a significant increase in the number of women victims of domestic violence. Albanians are still struck by the notion that “abuse at home is a private matter,” but once a year, abuse is exchanged with romantic dinners.
Meanwhile, women’s participation in political decision-making is still hindered by gender discrimination and stereotypes. The law stipulates that at least 30 percent of all decision making positions should be held by women.
Following the 2013 elections Albania had an all-time-high of women representatives in political bodies while in 2015, the percentage of women MPs reached 23 percent.