“If Tirana had a gender, it would be a woman”, this is how the Mayor of Tirana, Erion Veliaj, addressed the municipal council when it approved the Gender Equality Action Plan. The municipal council, with 51% women’s representation, unanimously agreed to give a green light to the Equality Action Plan and to fully implement the principles of gender equality in their policies, their organization and their practices.
One year after seven municipalities in Albania formally confirmed their commitment to gender equality by signing the European Charter for Equality of Women and Men in Local Life, five of them, supported by UN Women, have prepared Equality Action Plans. Three cities, Tirana, Elbasan and Durres have already approved them in their municipal councils.
The drafting and adoption of the Gender Equality Plan is considered as a crucial step in order to give effect to the Charter and its commitments.
This means that these cities now have a vision where women and men, girls and boys, despite their age, special needs, ethnic or social group, religious, sexual orientation or gender identity, are treated according to the principle of equality and equity in all walks of life.
“The Plan will have a direct impact in the lives of women and men living in the capital. In our daily life, in practice, women and men, boys and girls, are still far from equal. That is why the Gender Action Plan proposes to address some of the most important issues regarding gender inequalities and discrimination”, says Anisa Ruseti – Director of Social Services at the Municipality of Tirana.
UN Women in Albania has previously supported the local government in advancing women’s rights through initiatives aimed at mainstreaming gender equality into policy, planning, and budgeting and has facilitated the signing of the European Charter in the seven municipalities with the support of the Austrian Development Agency.
Recently, UN Women provided technical assistance to five municipalities by preparing the Equality Action Plan in line with the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) regulations and EU standards, with a clear structure, priorities, responsibilities and budgets.
“We have also facilitated consultations with local citizens, the Municipal Council, and the Women’s Alliance”, says Monika Kocaqi, a UN Women expert. She explains that some of the key objectives of these plans are to increase women’s and young girls’ participation in decision making, reduce gender stereotypes in education; ensure appropriate access for women and men to health, social protection and inclusion, housing, cultural and social activities, make public spaces safe and free from sexual harassment and violence; advance gender equality in employment, etc.
The plans have been praised by counsellors as being inclusive, with a clear vision and very realistic, with specific objectives. Many have participated in consultations about the plan, including local government units and civil society.
“Unlike any other strategy or action plan existing in municipalities, the Gender Action Plans contain details regarding the time frame, indicators to measure its progress, as well as the financial resources needed to implement each planned activity”, explains Ms. Kocaqi.
The Gender Action Plans are planned to be implemented over the next 3 years (2018-2020) and must be revised every year.
“We are aware that addressing inequalities and discrimination is a long process and will require the attention of the local government for many years to come, and the chances are that this process will be replicated”, said Ms. Ruseti – Director of Social Services at the Municipality of Tirana.
The adoption of these plans will serve as the basis for monitoring the gradual implementation of national and EU gender equality policies, as well as a tool for municipal resource mobilisation for equality in the future.