Launching of Social Inclusion Initiative

Nov 11, 2013

Dear Minister Veliaj
Dear Minister Gjermeni
Dear Ambassador Wittwer
Deputy Minister Kospiri,
Mr. Tausch;
Dear colleagues and friends

I will not hide my pride that my organization, the United Nations, supported by its member states, enjoys a privileged partnership with your Ministry. Your ministry is the focus of almost a third of our work in this country, ranging from our work on active labor market measures to gender equality to rights of migrants, groups at risk, returnees and children in need.

Today, we launch a new framework of partnership for social inclusion. This partnership is made possible by the faith and trust, which a relatively new member state, Switzerland, has put in the potential of the whole UN system to create difference in the lives of your country’s most vulnerable.
This new framework of action emanates from our Program of Cooperation; but it also responds to the new dynamism and focus your Government brings to making sure that no one is left behind as Albania nears a critical juncture of its EU path. 

We were in Istanbul last week together, Minister Veliaj, at the post 2015 global development agenda deliberations. There, we heard how the world is responding to the challenges of contracting growth; while trying to bring their youth into decent work and protecting their most vulnerable. Earlier this year, I had the privilege to lead the national consultations in Albania for this post 2015 development agenda: youth, Roma, women, children all across your country voiced their demands for more jobs, for better lives for their families, for equal opportunities of boys and girls and for better services; but above all, Ministers and Colleagues, they asked for a different way of doing things so that none is left behind.
Today, we, the United Nations family of development and mandate organizations have the support of Switzerland to support you in your response to this call.  For this I am thankful and proud.

The framework of action we launch today is first about getting the knowledge right. As your Government moves closer towards EU integration, evidence based, sex disaggregated analysis of exclusion and how the totality of your country’s executive, legislative, judiciary and civil society can respond to it is essential. This is because Albania will need to prepare for managing the sophisticated and complex social sector standards of being European.

Secondly, we will work with your Ministry so that you have all the analytical tools, the monitoring mechanisms in place for your functions in the social inclusion area. Third, we will support your Ministry to lead social inclusion measures across other Ministries. My good friend and colleague Mme Eglantine Gjermani is here. She knows too well that her mandate requires a lot more support so that she can put forward housing and urban development plans that benefit not only contractors and businesses – which of course is important, but that provide equities for the country’s poor. We will support you to lead social inclusion measures in other sectors, such as education and health, so that families do not have to suffer in the month of September when school starts and they dread the costs for school attendance; or so that mothers are not humiliated when they seek medical attention for their kids whose births area not registered. We will support you lead measures so that those with disability do not have to maneuver networks for allowances; but will have services that help them overcome their barriers. These are the kinds of concrete results we will help you pursue.  

Fourth, we will work with you and your de-concentrated offices, with regional and local authorities so that all the plans and policies made on the computer screens here in Tirana are actually implementable, and are implemented across the country. We will weave our capacities and support around the social care reform which is being facilitated by UNICEF also with the support of Switzerland.

Finally, we will work with advocates and overseers of your work, in civil society and in parliament so that the “watchdogs”, the “activists” for inclusion can call you and the executive to account for the quality of programs and their delivery. This, we all know, is part and parcel of how governance is rendered democratic, and participatory.  
I look forward to our upcoming work together and thank all your colleagues and mine for this ambitious program ahead of us, and the resolve to make it work.

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