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The formulation of WOMEN took place in the framework of RTM, PfD- Partenrship for Development, the Women’s Center “Light Steps” ongoing projects in target areas: it started in March and ended in July 2015. A joint team (2 experts per partner), carried out the feasibility study and drafted the proposal. A mapping of grass-root women’s organizations based in target areas was done and two rounds of consultations with them organized. Consultations focused on: exploring their needs/constraints; assessing priority areas to be addressed; validating the intervention strategy. Consultations revealed a deep concern over socio-economic conditions of rural women living in remote communities. Other information collected during the study confirmed reasons of concern and pushed RTM, “Light Steps” and PfD to launch a new joint initiative to promote rural women’ socio-economic rights.

Rural women have experienced increased economic problems and huge loss of rights over the last two decades in Albania. The revival of the customary rules with the demise of the State structures and the strengthening of men role as breadwinners weakened women’s social and economic influence in the decision-making processes inside the household and in the community in rural areas. This change had a very negative impact on rural women’s level of education, health access, participation in social life, access to labor and other income generating sources. Gender inequality is visible under multiple spheres: 58% of female labor force is employed in agriculture, but only 6.5% of the farms are managed by women; women are less likely to legally own properties; women are involved in unpaid activities in around 90% of cases The situation of rural women living in remote areas of Northern Albania, where patriarchal traditions are stronger than in other parts of the country, is even more critical: traditions shape gender identities and roles, contributing to the social, economical and political impoverishment of communities. Municipalities of Vau i Dejës, Pukë and Fushë Arrëz (Shkoder Region) are among the less favored areas of the country: a decrease of over 50% of the population was recorded in the decade 2001-2011; around ¼ of the population benefits from public subventions.

WOMEN addresses three main and interrelated problems that rural women face in target remote areas:

  • Deep isolation. They are left alone by institutions and communities with no option than the one of experiencing multiple forms/levels of violence, poverty and violations: they have no other social relations than ones with family members (social level); they also lack understanding/information on women rights and gender equality policies (cultural level); service providers focus on urban areas (physical level).
  • Weak business capacities. Women’s productivity in rural economy is very low: they have no access to information and advisory services; their technical skills and off-farm business incentives are limited by their lack of education/professional training in an accessible distance/suitable time; their level of lobbying and advocacy is inadequate; cooperation is insignificant as result of patriarchal rules and burden of family chores.
  • Economic dependence. They generally live in the husband’s family-house with no access to property rights and outside work opportunities. Despite their huge contribution in rural economic activities, patriarchal rules and the level of education allow men to exert a complete control over family incomes.

The formulation of WOMEN was devised as a participatory process. This approach will be maintained also in the implementation phase. For this purpose, three main participatory measures are envisaged:

  • Establishment of a WOMEN Fund Management Committe composed also by representatives of target Municipalities and grass-root women’s organizations. This body will be in charge of the general management of the WOMEN Fund and of selecting initiatives to be supported under this funding scheme.
  • Organization of in-community and multi-stakeholder public events, namely three launch events (Year 1) and three final conferences (Year 3), stimulating community-based dialogue among target local actors.
  • WOMEN Desks will be antennas and binders of target women’s needs, constraints and wishes. Community agents will play a key role in collecting feedbacks and recommendations through their field work.

The formulation of WOMEN took place in the framework of RTM, PfD- Partenrship for Development, the Women’s Center “Light Steps” ongoing projects in target areas: it started in March and ended in July 2015. A joint team (2 experts per partner), carried out the feasibility study and drafted the proposal. A mapping of grass-root women’s organizations based in target areas was done and two rounds of consultations with them organized. Consultations focused on: exploring their needs/constraints; assessing priority areas to be addressed; validating the intervention strategy. Consultations revealed a deep concern over socio-economic conditions of rural women living in remote communities. Other information collected during the study confirmed reasons of concern and pushed RTM, “Light Steps” and PfD to launch a new joint initiative to promote rural women’ socio-economic rights.

Rural women have experienced increased economic problems and huge loss of rights over the last two decades in Albania. The revival of the customary rules with the demise of the State structures and the strengthening of men role as breadwinners weakened women’s social and economic influence in the decision-making processes inside the household and in the community in rural areas. This change had a very negative impact on rural women’s level of education, health access, participation in social life, access to labor and other income generating sources. Gender inequality is visible under multiple spheres: 58% of female labor force is employed in agriculture, but only 6.5% of the farms are managed by women; women are less likely to legally own properties; women are involved in unpaid activities in around 90% of cases The situation of rural women living in remote areas of Northern Albania, where patriarchal traditions are stronger than in other parts of the country, is even more critical: traditions shape gender identities and roles, contributing to the social, economical and political impoverishment of communities. Municipalities of Vau i Dejës, Pukë and Fushë Arrëz (Shkoder Region) are among the less favored areas of the country: a decrease of over 50% of the population was recorded in the decade 2001-2011; around ¼ of the population benefits from public subventions.

WOMEN addresses three main and interrelated problems that rural women face in target remote areas:

  • Deep isolation. They are left alone by institutions and communities with no option than the one of experiencing multiple forms/levels of violence, poverty and violations: they have no other social relations than ones with family members (social level); they also lack understanding/information on women rights and gender equality policies (cultural level); service providers focus on urban areas (physical level).
  • Weak business capacities. Women’s productivity in rural economy is very low: they have no access to information and advisory services; their technical skills and off-farm business incentives are limited by their lack of education/professional training in an accessible distance/suitable time; their level of lobbying and advocacy is inadequate; cooperation is insignificant as result of patriarchal rules and burden of family chores.
  • Economic dependence. They generally live in the husband’s family-house with no access to property rights and outside work opportunities. Despite their huge contribution in rural economic activities, patriarchal rules and the level of education allow men to exert a complete control over family incomes.

The formulation of WOMEN was devised as a participatory process. This approach will be maintained also in the implementation phase. For this purpose, three main participatory measures are envisaged:

  • Establishment of a WOMEN Fund Management Committe composed also by representatives of target Municipalities and grass-root women’s organizations. This body will be in charge of the general management of the WOMEN Fund and of selecting initiatives to be supported under this funding scheme.
  • Organization of in-community and multi-stakeholder public events, namely three launch events (Year 1) and three final conferences (Year 3), stimulating community-based dialogue among target local actors.
  • WOMEN Desks will be antennas and binders of target women’s needs, constraints and wishes. Community agents will play a key role in collecting feedbacks and recommendations through their field work.

WOMEN supports the implementation of national policies protecting women rights and promoting gender equality (overall objective) by focusing on two main critical areas: (a) top-down and institution-centred approach; (b) enforcement at the local level, notably in Northern Albania and remote areas. WOMEN contributes to achieve the overall objective by strengthening the role of small, remote and grass-root women's organizations in promoting rural women’s socio-economic empowerment in mountain areas of Shkoder Region, namely Vau i Dejës, Pukë and Fushë Arrëz Municipalities (specific objective).
The support to grass-root women's organizations is based on three key and interlinked Pillars:
(1) AWARENESS RAISING; (2) CAPACITY BUILDING; (3) FINANCIAL SUPPORT.
WOMEN adopts a bottom-up approach: grass-root women’s organizations are supported in promoting women rights, building capacities and ownership at the local level and dialoguing with local authorities.

Planned activities are divided into 3 clusters (AC) matching the 3 intervention pillars and expected results:

  • AC 1 will increase awareness of target grass-root women’s organizations over women’ social and economic rights. Three WOMEN Desks, one per target area, will be opened with the aim of becoming bases for local women’s initiatives. Then, advisory services on economic empowerment will be provided to grass-root women’s organizations and other women individually accessing the WOMEN Desks.
  • AC 2 will consolidate professional capacities of target grass-root women’s organizations in planning and developing self-employment initiatives for vulnerable rural women. A two-year training program on income-generating rural activities and business planning will be delivered to them. Then, they will take part into group study visits for good practices exchange on women empowerment. Finally, three final conferences on the role of grass-root women’s organizations will be organized in target communities.
  • AC 3 will improve access for grass-root women’s organizations to funding schemes. A WOMEN Fund will be established to support self-employment initiatives targeting vulnerable women in strategic sectors for the socio-economic development of target mountain areas. It will be promoted in local communities through an informative campaign targeting grass-root women’s organizations. In response to WOMEN Fund’s CfPs, pilot women’s initiatives will be funded (sub-grants), implemented and monitored. Technical assistance will be provided to women’s organizations for starting up and developing their pilot initiatives.

The main target groups of the action are grass-root women's organizations [360 women] based and operating in the mountain areas of the new Municipalities of Vau i Dejës, Pukë and Fushë Arrëz. According to the findings of the mapping and consultation phase, these women’s groups share the following features:

  • STRUCTURE: they are small (±15 women), varying from totally informal to very basic forms of organization
  • RESOURCES: in most cases they operate in complete shortage of funds, staff, equipment and premises.
  • CAPACITIES: members have no or a very basic level of education and no access to training opportunities.
  • ACTIVITIES: they usually implement general, sporadic, recurring cultural initiatives on women rights.
  • COOPERATION: relationships with local authorities and other CSOs are based on clientele/personal logics.

The final beneficiaries are mountain communities at large of target Municipalities [28.824 people, INSTAT]. These communities still stick to Kanun to justify gender roles and patriarchal authority. WOMEN notably addresses three groups within these communities: families of members of target women’s organizations; other rural women accessing individually the WOMEN Desks; local policy-makers.
WOMEN is devised to strengthen capacities of target grass-root women’s organizations in the following fields: (a) designing and developing small self-employment initiatives for the benefit of vulnerable women; (b) CSO management; (c) dialogue with local institutions; (d) accessing and managing EU/other donors’ grant schemes. Moreover, it supports target women’s organizations in increasing their awareness over socio-economic rights of women and their role in the communities and the society at large. Finally, it contributes to break the isolation of women living in remote areas by fostering women’s aggregation and activism.

Local partners

WOMEN’S CENTER "LIGHT STEPS"
The Women’s Center “Light Steps” (“Qendra e Gruas Hapa të Lehtë” in Albanian) is an Albanian no profit association, located in the city of Shkoder, that has been engaged in promotion of women’s rights and in the fight against gender violence since 2001.
“Light Steps” is an open space, self-managed by a team of 10 Albanian women. Hundreds of women and young women from Shkoder attend the center every year, that is born with the goal to bring the women together, to console, to educate, to support and to make them socialize.

FONDATION PARTNERSHIP FOR DEVELOPMENT (PfD)
PfD is a no profit Albanian organization located in Tirana and engaged since 2006 in 3 main areas of intervention: agricultural and rural development, training of local institutions and groups/associations of manufacturers, protection of the environment and of the woods.
PhD focus its assistance in North Albania and can rely on a vast and firm network of experts in the field and on institutional contacts in the intervention area. PfD has already fulfilled more than 10 development projects that were co-financed by European Union, Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Albanian Government and few UN Agencies.
PfD has crucially contributed to the feasibility study of the Project WOMEN by collecting and analyzing data and information, discovering the needs of beneficiaries and creating a real support network to the project by local institutions.

Associate institutions

  • Municipality of Puka
  • Municipality of Vau Dejes
  • Municipality of Fushe Arrez

Media partner
Albamedia news-Albnews

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