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Gender and Minority Issues in Albania

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The fall of communism and the transition to a free-market system has had a significant impact on gender relations and the position of women in South-East Europe. However, these issues have largely been ignored in the transition period, and in many countries they have been exacerbated by war. National and ethnic minorities in South-East Europe are often faced with discrimination, prejudice and other forms of abuse. Thus, the position of minority women in South-East Europe is particularly precarious; they are subject to double discrimination – as minorities and as women.

This awareness-raising seminar, co-organized by the Women’s Center in Tirana, Albania and Minority Rights Group International (MRG), was held in Tirana on 12–13 September 2003. It is probably the first event of its kind, in seeking to focus on the interplay between gender and minority rights.

The seminar brought minority-focused groups and women and gender-focused groups together, in order to bring gender equality and minority rights issues together. Participants included activists and representatives from nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and from women’s, minority and human rights groups, as well as representatives from the international community, research centres and from the Albanian government, with both female and male participants. Participants came from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro and the United Kingdom (UK).

The seminar aimed to:

  • introduce women’s issues and perspectives to the minority rights discourse and vice versa;
  • analyse how international and national instruments protecting women’s and minority rights can be better implemented;
  • provide an opportunity for participants to discuss the major women’s rights and minority rights issues in South-East Europe;
  • develop strategies to address practical problems faced by minority women and share good practice; and
  • encourage cooperation among different bodies (NGOs, governments, international organizations, etc.) working on minority and women’s rights.

The discussions largely centred on issues facing women and minorities, rather than issues facing women and men within minority communities. As the seminar was held in Albania and most participants were from Albania, much of the discussion focused on Albania, while also often pertaining to other regions of South-East Europe.

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