Comment: A predominantly female equality of government washes the fate of the most vulnerable in society – Exit
Yesterday Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama made headlines announcing his new female-dominated cabinet. The country is now the world leader in terms of the number of women in decision-making positions.
While on paper this is a great achievement, I can’t help but wonder if this is just a tie wash. I am happy to see majority women in Rama’s cabinet, this in no way reflects the status of women in Albanian society. The media fury surrounding the new appointments has completely overshadowed the reality on the ground for many women and portrays Albania as a progressive country for women when in reality it is not.
Earlier this year, I called the World Bank for Equality of Albanian Women. In a report, they gave the country almost full ratings for how policymakers have approached women’s issues during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It examined how laws restrict or support women’s economic opportunities in 190 countries, particularly in terms of parenthood, retirement and work.
Albania obtained the maximum points in the areas of mobility, equality in the workplace, equal pay, marriage and entrepreneurship. A score of 50 was recorded for pensions and 80 for parenthood.
Globally, Albania ranked 34th out of 190, beating the United States, Switzerland, Japan, Singapore and Bulgaria. Topping the list were Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France and Iceland.
This paints a picture of a very favorable legal environment for women. But this does not match the experience of women in Albania over the past year or the statistics.
Let’s start with the beginning. Albanian women spend almost a quarterr of their day doing unpaid chores such as cooking, cleaning and caring. Albanian men spend only 3.47% (if we’re lucky) on doing similar tasks. This unpaid work that women do represents up to 1 billion euros per year for the Albanian economy.
Other sources tell a similar story. For example, the International Monetary Fund found that unpaid work can account for up to 60% of GDP, although he notes that it is difficult to quantify in monetary terms.
When I look at my free time, I can calculate that I spend 35 hours a week doing unpaid housework, almost as much as I spend in my career.
Domestic violence is a significant problem. We think that more than half of Albanian women will experience at least one form of domestic violence in their lifetime. Most will not report it to authorities, and those who do will rarely see a conviction. Out of 4,701 complaints in 2020, only 13% saw the case progress through the courts. Protection orders issued in a year often exceed 3,000.
Women fleeing violence find it difficult to find housing or help to pay their bills. Maternal mortality is high for the region (15 per 100,000 live births), 12% do not have access to contraception and more than 7% marry when they are children.
Furthermore, selective abortion remains a problem in Albania and contributes to the loss of 3.7 million women by 2030. Recent data from INSTAT shows that the boy-to-girl birth rate in Albania is still at an unnatural level. 107 boys were born for every 100 girls. The natural level is 105 boys for every 100 girls, suggesting that gender-based abortions are still prevalent.
Year after year, reports show that Albanian women are better educated and work more, but are paid less and get smaller roles. The gender gap in Albania is much lower than the EU average, and particular concerns are that women are paid less despite their level of knowledge and the number of hours spent working.
Instead of improving, the gap is widening. Albania fell five between 2019 and 2020 according to the World Economic Forum.
Sadly, we also live in an environment where rape victims are called “b * tches” and “wh * res” and those murdered by their evil partners are accused of “provoking” them. We have a media outlet that calls femicide a “crime of passion” and tries to justify stabbing a pregnant woman by speculating on the motives. The portals dissect the figures of women and the way women parliamentarians dress, but ignore the eccentric outfits and fat bellies of politicians.
Women activists and journalists are regularly victims of hate speech, death threats, threats of rape and harassment in real life. Yet I haven’t seen a single case go to court. It’s a society where women can be looked down upon for going to work, having no more children, and they are told “Oh, you can hope for a boy next time” when they say they are. are going to have a baby girl.
Having a predominantly female cabinet is great on paper, but it should absolutely not be used to erase a serious and deteriorating problem in the company. The international media does not care about the plight of the ordinary woman and repeats this mantra without a doubt. It does a great disservice to the women and girls who suffer oppression and discrimination every day in a society that does little to help them.
These women politicians are not representative of the majority of Albanian society. They are rich, have studied or sent their children to study abroad, live elite lives and have little contact with the reality around them, and they do not want to. This cabinet does not have any who fought to be there, there are no women belonging to minorities, no LGBTIQ women (outside) and no women from disadvantaged backgrounds who reached the top by pure determination. .
The average Albanian woman has nothing in common with them and cannot see their dreams and empowerment reflected in their policies.
A truly egalitarian society begins with the economic and social empowerment of all women, especially those who are less fortunate. It starts with policy changes, providing appropriate assistance, cracking down on violent men, prosecuting hate crimes, protecting vulnerable people, fighting discrimination, and making meaningful changes with ordinary people. It doesn’t start with putting women in leadership positions for the main reason for propaganda.