Women’s participation in politics and decision-making in general is a continuous challenge in Albania. While there is a perceived growing awareness of gender issues in Albania, many stereotypes on abilities of women to play the role of decision-maker or leader persist, particularly in rural populations. Participation of women in voting has consistently been high in Albania. This has not, however, appeared to translate into any substantial loosening barriers to women’s participation in political life.
Several promising developments in recent months have created conditions for far better representation of women in local governance Albania.
First, amendments to the electoral code will mandate that 50% of a party’s candidates for municipal assemblies be women. While registration of Mayoral candidates has only just begun, a number of the major parties have announced women candidates, and in some of Albania’s more significant cities.
Second, several new technical changes or improvements will make obtaining data on gender and elections finally possible. Due to recent amendments to the electoral code, the gender of the voter will now be included on the voter list, making to possible to obtain data on voting participation by gender that had been heretofore difficult to discern. The CEC is also developing management systems that will enable it to easily report by gender on voters’ participation and candidates standing for office.
It was in this context that UNDP organized a workshop on Gender and elections. The two-day workshop aimed to improve capacities of stakeholders in understanding main issues of gender in electoral processes and plan for greater gender inclusion in Albania.
The workshop followed a model of two-day workshop where the facilitation team decided to introduce significant customization to the existing BRIDGE module to cope with the limited time and meet the specific needs of the participants.
The agendas covered the following topics:
The facilitation team for the Electoral Systems workshop consisted of Emad Yousef, and Alexandra Hoveleaque.
The participants included staff of the Central Elections Commission secretariat, and other representatives of Civil Society organisations in Albania. The importance of the workshop topic, the BRIDGE methodology and the timing of the workshop just ahead of the June Municipal elections could explain the reason for an overwhelming participation and appreciation of the workshop.