Public perceptions and attitudes towards gender equality in AlbaniaMar 23, 2016
Mr. Brian Willams
UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative
I am greatly honored to welcome you to this event in partnership with the Women Alliance of the Albanian Parliament. The event today is a very good opportunity to dialogue with partners from the Parliament,Government and civil society on country’s development challenges in ensuring equality for men and women alike.
Albania is part of the new universal agenda to advance Sustainable Development Goals which seek to realize the human rights of all and to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by balancing the three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social and environmental.
Goal 5 is known as the stand-alone gender goal dedicated to achieving gender equality. Women have a critical role to play in all of the SDGs, with many targets specifically recognizing women’s equality and empowerment as both the objective, and as part of the solution.
I am happy to recognize here the role of parliament ant civil society in Albania’s progress in recent years in respecting and promoting gender equality and addressing gender-based violence. Progress in legislation and policy making had brought tangible results in women representation at all levels.
You have been behind the important legislative changes that introduced 50% of women representation in municipal councils in local elections. You are continuously working with the political parties for equal representation of women in all the party forums. The challenges are immense, but so is so courage and determination to move forward.
The study we are discussing here today examines public perceptions of gender equality in Albania. Specific questions are addressed in this research such as: What kind of beliefs do Albanians hold regarding gender equality? How do individual characteristics, such as age and education, correlate with public perceptions of gender equality? What barriers hinder women’s successful integration into the labor market? What kind of interventions can promote the economic empowerment of women?
We will learn more on research findings during today’s round table, but the review reveals many – unfortunately – typical patterns of behavior that work against improving gender equality. Unequal sharing of family responsibilities, for example, has implications for women’s access to education, employment, public office, training opportunities and participation in voluntary activities. Stereotypical attitudes and practices are working to the disadvantage of women and girls in all areas of society – in families, educational institutions, government bureaucracies at all levels, religious institutions, cultural institutions, sporting organizations, workplaces, political bodies and in the media. This research shows that behaviors to improve gender equality and empowerment of women have not changed at the same pace as policy, legal and institutional frameworks.
The good news is that we know of many practical programmes that can make a difference. Increased support for childcare and increased early childhood education is a no-brainer policy that is a win-win for all of society, including women’s empowerment. Adaptations to curricula to teach young children – especially boys – about the rights of girls and which portray women as full participants and leaders in society can be transformational – but to be effective needs broad political and cultural support.
The study also reveals some major opportunities in Albanian society. There is very broad – nearly unanimous at 98% – support for increased employment opportunities for women, and very strong support – 86% - that say men and boys should do more at home.
Change will require joint effort – a movement really - from multiple institutions including parliaments and municipal councils, journalists and high society leaders, imams and priests, professors and labor leaders, but the time is now. As my own (Canadian) Prime Minister recently put it “there’s still much work to be done" to achieve gender quality. “It’s a massive mountain to climb. But we are determined to make significant steps towards that,” he said. “For anyone who says there isn’t much more to do, just tell them to ask any women they know.”
I would like to thank all of you for your devotion and passion on making Albania society more just and equal. Special thanks go to the Government of Sweden that have continuously supported the work of UN in particular for achieving women’s empowerment and gender equality in Albania.