TIRANA, March 8 – This 8th of March, to celebrate International Women’s Day, UNDP Albania brings the well-known Albanian legend of Doruntina through the lens of the 21st century, with totally revised gender roles with a key goal: Advocate for gender equality among the new generation of Albania and the Albanian public at large.
The children’s book ‘Doruntina’s Besa’, a bilingual publication, aims to highlight gender emancipation and to show that a ‘besa,’ or a pledge of honor, is a concept that belongs to all genders.
The legend of Doruntina is perhaps one of the oldest sources of inspiration in Albanian culture and has continued to offer a variety of perspectives to past and present readers.
As the legend goes, a mother has seven sons and one daughter. One of the brothers marries his sister off to a land far away, without her and her mother’s approval. Konstantin, one of the brothers, promises he will bring Doruntina back home and, in doing so, he rises from the grave to stay true to his promise. He brings Doruntina home.
In this 21st century tale, in ‘Doruntina’s Besa’ the trait of besa is attributed to a woman, to the very own Doruntina. This actualizes gender equality and brings a legend old as time to our present context. Without giving much away, this tale tells the legend of a woman who gives her own besa and is able to stay true to it, despite the difficulties that a life of her own choosing brings her way.
This publication aims to teach children, youngsters and adults alike, that boys and girls bring the same happiness into families’ lives and that no one should have the right to decide for women’s and girls’ marriage. It highlights that girls and women are capable to decide where they want to live and who they want to love, as well as take care of themselves and keep their word. By exposing children to alternative realities, such as a girl chopping wood and a boy knitting, it challenges traditional gender roles and encourages the understanding of gender equality from an early age.
Last but not least, on International Woman’s Day, ‘Doruntina’s Tale’ seeks to go even further than women’s empowerment and transmit the message that staying true to one’s word is a noble quality that goes beyond one’s gender, challenges traditional gender roles and encourages the understanding of gender equality from an early age.
“Doruntina’s Besa is produced by UNDP in the context of the UN Joint Programme “Ending Violence Against Women in Albania” funded by the Government of Sweden and implemented by UNDP and other UN agencies in Albania in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Social Protection.