United Nations celebrated the third anniversary of the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals through a week of awareness-raising and accountability activities which took place between 25 and 28 September in several cities across Albania.
The events brought together young people, local government representatives, international organizations and civil society partners with the aim of raising awareness and encouraging actions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
A special exhibition was organized at the Centre for Openness and Dialogue, Myrtis: Face to Face with the past. The exhibition showcased the story of an 11-year old girl, called Myrtis, who tragically died of the typhoid fever in Athens 2500 years ago. Eight years ago, Myrtis became a “Friend of the UN” and now “has returned” to become a powerful spokesperson to preventable childhood diseases. Data point to the fact that despite huge strides in reducing child mortality and fighting malaria and other diseases, more than six million children still die before their fifth birthday every year. Vaccine-preventable diseases are still responsible for 1.5 million deaths worldwide each year. The exhibition, organized under the auspices of the Embassy of Greece in Albania, United Nations Agencies in Albania, and hosted by the Center for Openness and Dialogue. Stayed opened for three weeks.
On 26 September several events were organized in Fier under the motto: Fier 2030. A Town Hall meeting with participation of the Mayor, members of the Municipal Council and representatives from civil society served as a platform for exchanging ideas, establishing partnerships, engaging communities, fostering public support and promoting actions for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals at a local level. The event was also attended by the Ambassador of China to Albania: Ambassador Jiang Yu, the United Nations Resident Coordinator Brian J. Williams.
A discussion about Agenda 2030 and how to engage youth in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals., brought together around 80 young people in Fier. The UN Resident Coordinator spoke about UN’s assistance to Albania to achieve the SDGs and appeal to youth to be partners in development.
During this meeting the UNICEF U-report project was presented by the Representative of UNICEF to Albania Roberto de Bernardi.
A specific workshop addressing the role of local governments and institutions in ensuring women’s property rights and women’s empowerment, brought together women from all walks of life in Fier, the NGO community, law practitioners and others. The Albanian civil and family legislation recognize women’s equal property rights with men. However, data shows that only a small percentage of women are registered as property and land owners and men possess and administer property to a much larger degree than women. Women continue to be marginalized also in matters of inheritance. Unequal access to and control over economic resources lie at the root of women’s poverty.
The UN Resident Coordinator in Albania Brian Williams underlined: “It is of vital importance to ensure women’s access to information in accordance with national legislation; develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels. If women own land they have unlimited possibilities to be empowered: They can use it as collateral to access to credit and extension services; it can generate income directly if rented or sold.; It is also a key input for agriculture production”.
Participants discussed issues related to challenges faced by women in rural areas in issues related to property rights, impact of property issues on domestic violence and violence against women; access to credit, bank loan, mortgage assistance and other forms of financial credit.
Another issue of great interest was the availability of counselling for women and girls who are facing issues with property ownership. The Center for Legal Civic Initiatives has been offering legal counseling to women on their equal right to property.
The Free Legal Aid Centre (FLAC) in Fier organized an activity on the accessibility of free legal aid for vulnerable groups. The meeting addressed the advantages of providing FLA services at district court houses and stressed the importance of well-coordinated efforts across sectors to ensure that the most vulnerable groups have access to FLA services.
On 27 September, the EU Information Center hosted an event on violence against women and girls in vulnerable communities. At the meeting the report: “An overview on the phenomena of violence against women in Roma and Egyptian, LGBTI communities, and people with disabilities” was presented. It highlights that: “Women and girls with disabilities, those from the Roma and LGBT community in Albania experience violence, but it is almost unidentified and unreported”. Prepared by several civil society organizations, with the financial support from the European Commission, the report covers four municipalities: Elbasan, Vlora, Tirana and Shkodra.
The event also focused on Goal 5, which aims to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls; as well as Goal 10: Reducing inequality within and between countries.
The week ended with an awareness raising activity in Gramsh on 28 September. The students of the “Shefqet Guzi” high school held a discussion on their role in the achievement of the Development Goals, with a specific focus on Goal 5: Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women and Girls.
The Global Goals have the potential to end poverty, inequality and climate change, but they are only going to be accomplished if citizens raise their voices and remind their leaders to stick to their promises. We therefore urge everyone to help us raise awareness and take actions so that we together can advance towards a more sustainable future.