Gender Equality at Work
Albania has made steady progress in advancing women’s participation in the workforce over the last decade. A near gender balance has been achieved in workforce participation, with women constituting 43% of the labour force , and unemployment rates are roughly the same for men and women (men are actually experiencing a slightly higher rate of unemployment - 11.6%, compared to 11.3% for women) . As of February 2021, 29.5% of seats in parliament were held by women . However, this has risen from 21% in 2013 and is a marked improvement from just 7% in 2007 . Women now represent 50% of the Albanian government and senior management positions in public administration . In the latest Global Gender Gap report by WE Forum, Albania was one of five top performing countries for wage equality for similar work, achieving a gender gap of less than 20% (15.5%). The report also found Albania to be one of three most-improved countries in Europe for gender equality since the last report in 2021 .
This progress is promising, however notable gender gaps remain that hinder the country from achieving gender parity. Women are overrepresented in low paid jobs and less than 20% of senior management positions in the private sector are held by women . Furthermore, just 17% of firms have female majority ownership . Gender differences in unpaid care and domestic work are also notable. UN Women reports that women and girls aged 10+ spend 21.7% of their time on unpaid work, compared to 3.5% spent by men . These statistics offer a focus for the country’s next steps and it is estimated that, by advancing women’s rights, Albania’s GDP could increase by as much as 20% .
Levels of domestic violence in the country are high. Nearly 3 in 5 women (59%) are reported to have experienced domestic violence . Research into the urban municipalities of Korça and Shkodra also found that women frequently experience harassment in public settings, including verbal, physical and sexual harassment, with 16% of women having been exposed to sexual harassment or violence in their lifetime .
Attitudes Towards Gender-Based Violence
Studies have revealed that outdated attitudes concerning gender-based violence and victim-blaming are a key barrier to overcoming gender inequality. Research conducted in 2019 in Korça and Shkodra found that 40% of respondents strongly or partly agree that women who experience sexual harassment or abuse “provoke it themselves” . Similarly, a study conducted by the World Bank found that 30% of women and 36% of men believe a man should be allowed to beat his wife in certain circumstances .
This stigma towards gender-based violence and harassment may partly explain low levels of reporting. 94% of respondents in Korça and Shkodra were not aware of the national helpline in Albania, 73% of those who faced harassment in Shkodra did not report because they were ashamed and fearful of judgement towards herself or her family and, in Korça, 79% of those who did not report the harassment were too afraid to approach the police .
The impact of the pandemic
Official data reporting on the impact of the pandemic on levels of gender-based violence is scarce, however many NGOs in Albania have reported that domestic violence rates have increased in the pandemic because women were confined to the home and did not have any escape. Women in rural areas, women living with disabilities, and members of the Roma and Egyptian communities were reported as being particularly vulnerable .
Women continue to face barriers in regards to their sexual and reproductive health needs and rights. Access to contraception is a major issue, with only 6.3% of women having satisfactory access to contraception and family planning as of 2018 . The impact of this is unplanned pregnancies, which can have a serious toll on the mental and physical wellbeing of women, as well as little protection from sexually transmitted infections and illness.
United Kingdom Home Office, “Country Policy and Information Note – Albania: Domestic Abuse and Violence Against Women”, (2018), Note.
UN Women: Europe and Central Asia, “New Survey Reveals Violence Against Women Occurs Widely in Albania”, (eca.unwomen.org, 29 May 2019), <https://eca.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2019/05/new-survey-reveals-violence-against-women-occurs-widely-in-albania>.
The World Bank, (1).
Y. Allouche, “‘Silent Pandemic’: How Women in the Middle East and North Africa are Threatened Online”, (middleeasteye.net, 13 July 2020), <https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/women-middle-east-north-africa-threats-harassment-abuse-sexism-online>.
Minister for Family and Women of Algeria, “Violence Towards Women: National Study into Prevalence”, (2007), Report. This report was cited by R. Manjoo, the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, “Mission to Algeria”, (2011), 17th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, 7.
The World Bank, (1).