Technical Workshop: Gender Equality for Sustainable Development in Nexus Sectors in Albania

Albania has made significant improvements in advancing the normative framework for gender equality in recent years. An online Technical Workshop on Gender Equality (GE) and Sustainable Development in Nexus attempted to discuss how gender is addressed in Nexus sectors’ strategies and policies and bring some concrete best practices on how gender issues can be addressed in development programmes.

On 29 June 2021, an online workshop on Gender Equality for Sustainable Development in Nexus Sectors in Albania was organised by GWP-Med in the context of the SEE Nexus project. The workshop was attended by approximately 50 stakeholders including specialists and gender focal points from national institutions and agencies, and representatives of gender organisations, national and international developmental organizations, civil society, women activists, and gender experts, as well as Media and Academia.

The workshop aimed to introduce the participants with the basic concepts on gender equality for sustainable development and how gender inequality impacts progress towards Agenda 2030. It further aimed to inform on Albania’s progress in fulfilling gender equality obligations, the importance of gender mainstreaming and how it is addressed in the Nexus related strategies and policies. The identification of gender-related challenges and opportunities relevant to the Water-Food-Energy-Ecosystem sectors and sharing of policy-related experiences, best practices and lessons learned from the Nexus sectors were part of the objectives of the workshop together with the recommendations and future interventions

The current article presents the Workshop’s key take outs, the speakers’ main points and provides a summary of the discussion among participants.  

Session I Gender Equality for sustainable development in Nexus sectors in Albania

Mr. Tassos Krommydas, Senior Project Officer and Project Manager briefly welcomed participants and gave the floor to Ms. Christina Stummer, Senior Gender and Development Advisor from Austrian Development Agency for the opening speech.

Ms. Stummer stressed the fact that Women’s Empowerment is a long-term key topic on the agenda of ADA not only because it is a human rights issue, but because it is even as important and highly relevant for sustainable development.

The first presentation was conducted by Mr. Tassos Krommydas, Senior Project Officer.  Mr. Tassos Krommydas begun his presentation by introducing to the participants the basic concepts of the Nexus approach. He then provided a brief overview of the Project’s scope and objectives, focusing on its activities in Albania.

 Mr. Tassos Krommydas presentation: 

 Ms. Fiorela Shalsi presented the main issues of gender in sustainable management of natural resources and Gender Equality and Nexus sectors’ assessment in Albania. The presentation focused on the concepts of sustainable development, SDGs and their interlinkage with gender equality and natural resources. Many of the obstacles to effective sustainable management policies are found in old discriminatory social norms and legal systems and investing in gender equality will support sustainability and progress towards SDGs.

Ms. Fiorela Shalsi's presentation: 

 On the issue of Gender Equality and Nexus sectors, the presentation informed the participants on the overall progress of Albania towards gender equality in the main sectors as per different global reports and indexes. She noted that while there is considerable progress in some areas, progress must be equal and similar in all key areas of development.

Ms. Shalsi's presentation: 

 

SESSION II Opportunities and Challenges of Mainstreaming Gender in Nexus sectors

The session shared information on how gender issues are addressed in thematic strategies, opportunities for mainstreaming gender issues and the challenges of gender focal points as well as women participation in decision making positions, gender data disaggregation and budgeting.  

Ms. Fiorela Shalsi’s presentation on Gender Equality on the strategies and policies of Nexus sectors aimed at providing a quick outlook on how gender is mainstreamed in the nexus sectors and which sectors have been more attentive and open to consider gender equality issues in their policies and strategies. Indicatively, sectors such as water management, agriculture and environment have little reference to gender issues but there is almost no gender consideration on the energy sector.  

Ms. Fiorela Shalsi's presentation: 

This was the only presentation during this session. The rest of Session II and Session III were dedicated to discussion and exchange of ideas between the panelists.

The discussion was initiated by Ms. Brunilda Dervishaj, Director of the Sector of Policies and Strategies for Gender Equality and Social Inclusion in the Ministry of Health and Social Protection. Ms. Dervishaj presented the National Strategy on Gender Equality 2021-2030 which reflects the steps towards the fulfillment of standards or obligations deriving from international documents mentioned the institutional structures on Gender equality and referred to specific challenges that Albania should address in the future in order to tackle Gender Equality. Ms. Ardiana Hala, Legal Director at the Commissioner for Protection Against Discrimination mentioned the fact that the Commissioner has further increased the capacity to cover broader discrimination forms. She then brought some practical cases of the potential issues faced in nexus related sectors due to discrimination in differentiated use of natural resources from women and men. She continued with references to cases and examples whereby women are often discriminated in their equal access to Nexus resources such as land and property due to social norms and pointed out that these issues should be discussed with the local government and the relevant line ministries.

Ms. Ines Xhelili, the representative of the National Council of Gender Equality and Executive Director of Albanian Women Empowerment Network emphasized the importance of continuous integration of CSO organizations that work on women issues to be part of different initiatives apart from the line ministries due to the importance of the services and attention they give to these issues on a daily basis. Ms. Erisa Çela, Gender Responsive Budgeting Programme Manager at UN Women made the case that in order to achieve gender equality commitments as per the Agenda 2030 it is important to understand the possibility of mobilization and allocation of the right resources that will contribute towards these commitments. Ms. Cela referred to the Gender Responsive Budgeting as a tool that is used by the Albanian government that has improved budgets and how women benefit from them.

Ms. Edlira Çepani, the Executive Director of the Equality in Decision Making, highlighted that it is very important to include in the discussions for gender equality the local government given that this is where critical decisions are taken impacting communities and are also responsible for natural resources management. Ms. Mirela Arqimandriti, Executive Director of Gender Alliance for Development pointed to the fact that Albania hasn’t succeeded in integrating gender issues in the Nexus sectors despite the fact that these are very important aspects of the EU GAP II 2021-2025 and other international instruments like SDGs.

Ms. Çepani's presentation: 

The last panelist of the first session, Dr. Ermira Danaj, Gender Equality Expert, referred to a recent gender analysis with the Albanian government, highlighting that the majority of sectorial strategies lack gender perspective.

SESSION III Relevant interventions and lessons learned from key actors

The purpose of this section was to bring different and positive experiences in integrating gender perspective in projects that work on areas related to nexus sectors.

Ms. Elvita Kabashi, Programme Analyst, UNDP mentioned the work of UNDP and GWP in the sustainable management of two cross-border rivers Drin and Vjosa as two main resources for water, energy and tourism as well as eco-tourism that Albania can gradually offer. One of the findings on gender was that in the agencies under the Ministry of the Environment that deal with natural resources management, 91% were men with 9% women. UNDP is preparing an action plan for climate change and gender integration both at national and local level and aims to support also their implementation.

The next panelist was from GIZ, Ms. Irida Haxhi Gender Specialist, on behalf of Ms. Adela Llatja, Programme Gender Analyst, GIZ. She provided information on how women and men use water and their level of participation in employment in the water sector. She emphasized that the majority of employees in these sectors especially in management are men including in decision making positions. More specifically she briefed on the Gender Action Plan that was prepared focusing specifically on women and girls in the water sector with different components from training, campaigns and legal revisions.

Ms. Irida Haxhi's presentation: 

 

The floor was then given to Ms. Julie Jiyoung Nam, Climate Change Specialist, FAO. She informed that FAO together with UN Women have just initiated the implementation of a joint project to address Women Farmer issues in the agriculture sector. She  made some key points on gender in Albania namely that women’s access to agricultural services is very limited, that women lack financial support and are also considered as ‘wife of farm head’ instead of being considered as a farmer in their own right and that they depend financially more on men also due to lack or loss of job opportunities compared to men.

The final panelist was Ms. Anila Aliaj, LED project and Gender Advisor for CNVP Albania. She noted that as per her experience the key factor that impacts women is economic empowerment which will support the agenda towards gender equality at all levels. Women participation is not key only in the administration, but also at the local level.

They conduct all the processes themselves and are not organized or do not have any work segments mechanized so that they can process things faster. She called for greater synergies and collaboration between all the actors that were part of this workshop or broader so that good practices can be exchanged, and positive experiences sustained.

For the full report see here

The SEE Nexus Project (“Promoting the Sustainable Management of Natural Resources in Southeastern Europe, through the use of the Nexus Approach”) is funded by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), the operational unit of Austrian Development Cooperation and is implemented by Global Water Partnership-Mediterranean (GWP-Med) in partnership with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).