Be Bold for Change - Women's Organisations in Albania

A speech by ambassador Dewi van de Weerd. 30 March 2017.

The Albanian Women Empowerment Network organised a marathon of events dedicated to women's rights. Here you can see some pictures of the exhibition 'Be Bold for Change'. The exhibition displays photographs from the everyday work of women’s organisations who protect and empower vulnerable girls and women. The event was enriched with testimonies of women whose lives have been changed as a result of the support provided, but also as a result of their own strength and will to change themselves and society.

The Albanian Women Empowerment Network organised a marathon of events dedicated to women's rights.

"Did u ever have a general for breakfast? I did yesterday. And 3 powerful Albanian ladies, working in defense, internal affairs and diplomacy. We are working together on something exciting. An overview and Action plan on women in peacekeeping operations. UNSC Resolution 1325 asks attention for the specific roles women play in times of peace and conflict. Both in the military and in the police, women make a difference, whether at the negotiation table or in cases of domestic violence.

At the Dutch Embassy we like to bring people together, sometimes for breakfast, sometimes for a bikeride and we always make sure there is a genderbalance. Regularly, women's rights is a topic. We have worked on property rights of women, increasing the registration of female landowners with 40% in the municipality of Pogradec. I have been impressed by the bigger amount of women in municipality councils. A huge achievement, because specifically in rural areas in Albania, womens positions in society are still much more traditional.

So to come to gender equality, women need to be empowered more. It will create better decisionmaking. It will tap into the economic potential women represent.  Women should also empower each other. When I'm in other cities, like Berat or Gjirokaster, I always meet the women municpality councellors, for a breakfast or a coffee. And sometimes it is the first time they meet eachother all together. But they always appreciate it. I am convinced that women need to help each other. Amplify each other.

But, coming back to the general at breakfast. He said to me, do not forget to always include us men. And this is indeed very true. I am a He4She Ambassador and firmly believe we need the support of men to make this change, to believe in the added value of diversity, to create that space at the negotiation table. I thank the two ambassadors also speaking today for being the feminists they are. This also goes for my husband, who is really an inspiration. Together we raise our sons and daughter with the notion of gender equality.

Ladies and gentlemen, we indeed need to be bold 4 change. I would like to thank Awen for organizing this wonderful exhibition and the other women's organizations that are so active in Albania. I regret to tell you that the number of women in politics in the world is going up only slowly. 8% of state leaders is female. Who knows what the coming elections in Albania will bring. Including more women has a profit, it means more balanced decisionmaking. An economy that develops faster. And imagine the examples these ladies at the top, give to the girls and boys of Albania. whether they are in politics, or have their own Made in Albania shoelabel.

While working on women's rights with our Dutch Human Rights programme, I have been most impressed by the women I met here. It is quite clear that women can change Albania. They are hard working, creative, less corrupt or criminal then men, and bring different topics on top of the agenda. In fact it is already happening. And this will have a direct impact on your life, the lives of your daughters, and of your sons. Because, it could also be your son to cook a dinner for you, or make you breakfast. And your daughter, she might decide to follow the example of the Director of the Military Academy, Mrs Shehu, and become a general one day."