Albania has made progress in addressing gender issues, mainly through improving the legal framework and aligning it with international human rights standards.
However, gender inequalities, violence against women and girls, continue to be a serious concern and a serious violation of human rights, negatively affecting the full and equal participation of women and girls in society. Gender inequality is not just a human rights issue, it is a waste of the world’s human potential. By denying women equal rights, we deny half the population the opportunity to live to their full potential. If gender equality is achieved, not only women will benefit, but all citizens of the world.
Women make up half of the world’s working-age population, but generate only 37% of global GDP. USD 12 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 if we work to advance gender equality (McKinsey Global Institute, 2015).
In 2015, the 193 member countries of the United Nations came together to approve 17 Sustainable Development Goals, also known as the Global Goals. The goals are a universal call to action to achieve ‘a better and more sustainable future for all’.
Goal 5 set the ambitious goal of achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls everywhere in the world by 2030. Gender inequality can start at birth and continue throughout a woman’s life.
Women in Albania face various forms of unequal treatment, including discrimination, harassment, domestic violence and sexual abuse. Other particularly widespread forms are: forced marriages, honour killings, deprivation of education, denial of property rights and lack of access to work and services, discrimination at work, unequal participation in decision-making, etc.
The third Population based National Survey on VAW conducted by the Institute of Statistics of the Republic of Albania (INSTAT) in 2018, showed that one in two (52.9%) Albanian women have experienced one or more forms of violence against women during their lifetime and 36.6% of them claimed that they are currently experiencing violence. The most common forms of violence have been experienced and are experienced during a love affair or in the family and are exercised by the intimate partner (INSTAT, “Women and men in Albania”, 2021).
State Police data for 2021, showed that a total of 5312 cases of violence and other crimes committed in domestic relations have been identified and treated by the police, 611 more cases (13%) than 2020. 3266 cases of domestic violence were handled with a request-lawsuit for the issuance of an Immediate Protection Order/Protection Order, 15.9% more cases than in 2020. The highest percentage of women subject to domestic violence (based on the number of applications for protection orders and immediate protection orders) is concentrated in the district of Tirana followed by Durres and Vlora.
2021 showed also a concerning increase of femicide cases in Albania. 21 women and girls were killed by their partner, husband or another family member (70% more cases compared to 2020). In most cases, victims had already denounced the violence to police and been granted a protection order from the Court. The justice system failed to protect the victims because it did not take the appropriate measures against the perpetrator and did not ensure safety for the victims.
Even though the number of reported cases of domestic violence and gender-based violence has been in continues increase, most women who experience violence never seek help or report the violence to the authorities. This is because of the lack of trust they have towards security and justice institutions, which have the duty to support and protect victims of violence. Based on the national survey ‘Albanian Security Barometer’ conducted by the Center for the Study of Democracy and Governance in 2020, 13.6% of the surveyed population declared that they do not trust State Police. These percentages significantly deepen when it comes to the Prosecutor’s Office and the Court: 43.5% do not trust the work of the Prosecutor’s Office and the trust in Courts is even lower where 45.9% of the population declared that they have no confidence, which is the absolute the highest figure compared to all the institutions observed by this national survey.
All over the world, women and girls enjoy the same rights: the right to live free from violence and slavery, the right to education, the right to earn equal pay for equal work with men, the right to enjoy property, the right to express themselves freely and to vote. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, states 'equal rights for men and women'.
In 1979, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Described as an international law of women’s rights, the Convention entered into force on September 1981. The Convention defines discrimination against women in the following terms:
"Any distinction, exclusion or limitation made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women of their rights, regardless of their marital status, on the basis of the equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field".
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women is a key international act that addresses gender-based discrimination and provides specific protection for women's rights. The Convention sets out what obligations states have to ensure that women can enjoy those rights. Over 180 countries have ratified this Convention.
The United Nations Development Program states that, to advance gender justice, "Women must know their rights and be able to access legal systems" and the 1993 UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Article 4 states that "States must also inform women of their rights".
According to the jurisprudence of the ECHR, the right to freedom from gender discrimination includes not only the obligation of states to treat persons in similar situations in the same way, but also the obligation to treat persons in different situations differently. Therefore, states sometimes need to differentiate between women and men – for example by offering women maternity leave or other legal protections related to pregnancy and childbirth (to take into account the biological realities of reproduction), or by accepting a context specific historical. For example, acts of violence committed by men against women do not occur in a vacuum, but are part of a social context. In the well-known case Opuz v. Turkey, the ECtHR defined violence against women as a form of discrimination against women.
A 2019 report by the World Bank found that women have full legal rights to men in only six countries: Belgium, Denmark, France, Latvia, Luxembourg and Sweden.