Albania claims global leadership for women in government
TIRANA, Albania (AP) – The Albanian parliament was due to vote Thursday evening to approve the new female-dominated cabinet of Prime Minister Edi Rama, with 12 of the 17 jobs going to women, making Albania a world leader in terms of percentage of women in government positions.
Rama, who won a record-breaking third consecutive term in April, pledged to bring the country back to economic growth, focusing on tourism and agriculture.
His Socialist Party holds 74 of the 140 seats in parliament, and his choice of ministers had to be approved. Cabinets are still appointed several months after general elections in Albania, in a system designed to allow a smoother transition of power.
“This new government will go down in history as the cabinet with the most women,” Rama said in his speech.
The 57-year-old politician has included women in high-level positions throughout his career, including during his tenure as Minister of Culture, Mayor of the Albanian capital Tirana and Prime Minister, a position he occupies since 2013.
“With the vote of confidence of the new cabinet, Albania ranks first in the United Nations general ranking for the number of women in government,” he said.
According to the latest UN figures available, dating from January 2021, Nicaragua was at the top of the list with 10 women among 17 cabinet members. Even then, Albania had placed 5th with 9 women in a 16-person cabinet.
However, Rama warned that no minister would be favored because of his gender and that his term of office would depend solely on his performance in office, “without discrimination on the basis of sex.”
Independent analyst Lutfi Dervishi said the next step should be to have women as president and prime minister, which he said would change the outside world view of Albania “as a conservative society , or mainly Islamic ruled by corruption â.
âThere is a general perception that women are less prone to corruption and abuse of positions,â he added.
But some noted the inexperience of some of the new cabinet members. Independent analyst Aleksander Cipa said public opinion was critical as some of the new appointees “come from anonymity” and were not known for any notable professional success or political careers.
Rama has had “a constant preference in his political and executive career” by appointing women to key positions around him, Cipa said, adding that this practice could be done in part for public relations reasons.
“He felt better (working with women) because of his individual authority and he is in control more in partnership with the women housekeepers,” he said.
The main challenges of the new government will be to complete the reconstruction process after a deadly earthquake in November 2019, and to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the economy, which has seen its GDP fall by 3 , 3% in 2020.
Rama also pledged to continue fighting corruption and drug trafficking, raising growth to at least 4% per year, increasing wages and reducing unemployment.
His government aims to make the country an energy producer and exporter, and to diversify energy with solar and wind products.
Newcomer Delinda Ibrahimaj has been appointed to lead the country’s finance and economy portfolios.
Olta Xhacka retains his post as Minister of Foreign Affairs, as do Minister of Culture Elva Margariti and Minister of Education Evis Kushi.
Another newcomer, Frida Krifca, will head the agriculture ministry, with a goal of reaching $ 1 billion in agricultural exports.
The new Speaker of Parliament is also a woman, Lindita Nikolla, former Minister of Education.
Albania, with its population of 2.8 million, has been a member of NATO since 2009 and hopes to launch full membership negotiations with the European Union later this year.