Address at  "Call to Action activity - Protecting the well-being of women and children", London - november, 2024

I grew up in communism. Where dreams couldn't be bigger than the city, and certainly not larger than the territory of the country where we were born due to complete isolation. In the midst of Europe, simultaneously outside of Europe and the world. Where free movement was prohibited even within the country. Where the job was assigned by the state, together with the city or village where one must live without the right to refuse. Where neither freedom nor insecurity existed, and the system of proletarian dictatorship had ready answers for every question.

The freedom gained in 1990, together with great hope, the indescribable chaos, the newly arrived uncertainty in our lives, exposed us to a vocabulary uknown before: emigrant, refugee, trafficking, unemployment, extreme poverty, violence, inequality, discrimination.

I left the country to complete a master's in economics with a strong desire to understand a little more about countries that had started their journey to freedom before us and to engage with professors from Western universities who only knew life in freedom.

I remember that since the first lectures, one of the professors told us: a system falls in six days, institutions are established in six years, and the freedom of the individual and the market takes 60 years to function. I heard it and thought either I had heard it wrong, or it was said wrong. I didn't believe it, but still I didn't forget it, and over the years, I always and more often  recall the number 60.

Looking back in time, there's no way not to feel good. If, in the first two decades of the transition, domestic violence was almost exclusively the work and mission of civil society organizations and international institutions as their capacitators and financers, the powerful and continous lobbying of civil society and the increasing awareness of citizens has brought the agenda of the fight against family violence into the continuous attention and activity of institutions.

Albania has signed and is committed to the implementation of international conventions. Today, we have an advanced legal framework for protection and support in cases of high-risk violence. The protection order is activated within 48 hours, psychological abuse is considered a criminal offense just like physical violence and abuse and 22,000 signatories supported last year's civil society initiative to create a public registry of perpetrators, which received parliamentary support and approval. A referral mechanism has been established throughout the territory, and an assigned employee to assist victims of violence is available for assistance. There is preferential treatment, although still insufficient, for women victims of violence and trafficking, in terms of economic aid and public social services for them have  increased.

However, Albania today finds itself between two different realities.

The Speaker of Parliament is a woman, 26% of deputies are women, up from 11% a decade ago, female deputy ministers have doubled, and currently, 60% of ministers are women compared to just ONE a decade ago. 61% of public administration is made out of women, while in education and health, the presence of women exceeds that of any other sector. Women's presence has increased in the judicial system and in the ranks of the state police.

But this reflection becomes impossible to be comprehensive when one in two women in Albania still thinks that a woman should tolerate violence, one in two women still believes that violence is a private matter, one in four people thinks that the violated  woman is to blame, and an equal number of individuals have the opinion that women should not speak about episodes of violence.One in two women aged 18-49 has experienced violence, and the majority admit that violence exists. Reported violence have doubled compared to a decade ago, but the reporting is still low compared to perceptions and statements above.

But what I consider highly problematic is the fact that violated women claim not to trust institutions, even though the women are dominating all levels of institutions.

By this, we can say that the agenda for increasing women's representation and leadership is easy to achieve when there is dedicated political will from leadership. But the agenda for women social emancipation in the family and community requires much more than that.Obviously, as long as women in families and communities suffer from violence, unemployment, informality, poverty, early marriage pressure, or heightened psychological insecurity in the social environment, those big numbers of political representation and governance of women remain far from societal expectations and benefit. The prophecy of the number 60 wont be shaken and can become even higher if the women in power who have taken the exemplary visibility given to them by the dedicated political will do not feel in return obligated that beyond performing their respective duties, they are there to ensure by all means that women and girls without visibility get out of the heavy shadow of the past.

Thank you.

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