A G.R.E.A.T initiative to empower women in rural areas

Thursday, 8 March, 2018

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Albania organized the roundtable "Challenges and Opportunities to Achieve Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Rural Girls" with the support of UN Women.

"We need to create models that bring sustainable economic development. Through the Government’s 100 villages project and the joint initiative we have with UN Women and FAO, rural women will be the main beneficiaries and we’ll be able to achieve a healthier domestic economy," said Niko Peleshi, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development. Minister Peleshi stressed that time is now for concrete actions to empower women in rural areas.

To address the challenges and inequalities facing women in rural areas, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, UN Women and FAO have developed a special initiative for “Gender Equality in Rural Development and Tourism”, named GREAT (Gender Rural Equality and Tourism). This initiative aims to contribute to the empowerment of women in rural areas and to strengthen their role in rural development as one of the targets of the 2030 Agenda.

“This event brings us together to discuss two important areas – agricultural development and women’s empowerment – both areas with challenges and tremendous opportunities at the same time. The UN supports women’s empowerment. Women are powerful agents of change and empowering women benefits the whole society,” highlighted Brian Williams, UN Resident Coordinator in Albania.

Improving the life of rural women is one of the key recommendations of the National Strategy for Gender Equality in Albania for 2016-2020.

The Head of development Cooperation at the Embassy of Sweden, Birgitta Jansson, in her remarks stated: "Focusing only on women as economic actors & their productive role is not sufficient. It is essential to eliminate structural gender inequalities in the labour market and reduce women's unpaid work".

The GREAT initiative is the gender-focused response as part of the project of 100 villages and emphasizes the following: The creation of a favorable business environment for women through the creation of incubators and the provision of local government services; the creation of a product chain linking women farmers to the market and consumers, and the creation of local development groups (LAGs) in accordance with EU criteria.

 “We need to move from a gender mainstreaming approach to a gender-focused approach. Women living in rural areas are one of the most vulnerable groups in Albania. Through the GREAT initiative we intend to strengthen them by providing services through municipalities or help them get organized into active groups," said Giuseppe Belsito, UN Women Representative in Albania.