Albanian and Serbian gender activists join efforts for gender equality under the patronage of UN WOMEN
In a bid to ensure gender equality at the local level, Albanian delegation visits Serbia to get an insight on lessons learnt
“A society that is without the voice and vision of women is not less feminine. It is less human.” Following these words of the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms. Mary Robinson, a group of 39 Albanian gender specialists visited their counterparts in Belgrade from October 17-19 to discuss promotion and inclusion of gender equality in local planning and development.
For the three-day visit organized by UN Women, representatives of ministries, municipalities and municipality associations, and civil society in Albania were exchanging experiences with their colleagues from Serbia and learning how to apply the “Charter for Equality of Women and Men in Local Life”.
The Charter encourages local and regional governments to make a public commitment to equality and to implement concrete practices in the areas of political participation, employment, public services, and urban planning to promote gender equality.
According to Ms. Merita Xhafaj, General Director of Social Policies at Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth in Albania, they came to Serbia to see how Serbian institutions have implemented the Charter, what were the challenges and in what way the Serbian institutions managed to overcome it. "I hope that we will soon have a Serbian delegation visit us in Albania," said Ms. Xhafaj.
As part of the study visit, the group met with Ms. Zorana Mihajlovic, President of the Government of Serbia Coordinating Body for Gender Equality, who stressed the importance of connecting men and women dealing with gender equality not only within a country, but also regionally. "I believe this is the field where we can perhaps work together in the future. There is no country with full gender equality," she added.
Ms. Gordana Comic, National Assembly Deputy Speaker and member of the Women Parliamentary Network, explained where we are standing now. “We are standing on the shoulders of women who fought for our rights many years before us. We are the builders of our future and we want to be involved in all the dialogues. That is why I am particularly pleased to have the opportunity to talk to the MPs from Albania," she concluded.
The group also visited Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities, Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government, National Alliance for Local Economic Development and Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit, Provincial Secretariat for Social Policy, Demography and Gender Equality, Committee on Gender Equality of the Assembly, Provincial Ombudsman etc.
The study trip ended with sightseeing in Novi Sad on October 19. Ms. Milana Rikanovic, Head of UN Women in Serbia, has expressed hope that this kind of cooperation on the topic will continue and further develop.