Albania is located in the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe (SEE). This country of nearly 2.9 million inhabitants finds itself at a crossroads today. Despite significant accomplishments, the quality of its democracy remains fragile. The future prospects of the country will largely depend on its government’s ability to produce good governance, pursue greater economic growth, ensure rule of law and tackle corruption with much more vigour.
Albania is facing widespread poverty and social adversities. The unemployment rate in Albania is 28.7%, and 15% of the population are living below the poverty line.
In rural areas there are low rates of poverty reduction, aside from the numerous factors contributing to poverty, woman’s inferior social and economic position has also had a strong impact. The current status of women bears specific significance in the stagnation and prolongation of poverty in Albania.
Traditionally, women in Albania mostly take on a burden of their family's well-being and yet they have fewer opportunities than men to access the resources which could help them to meet these responsibilities. The high unemployment rate amongst women in Albania stems from various factors: poor educational attainment and vocational training, poor social status in the family and the domestic violence that they are subjected to limit their access to job market and participation in public and political structures.
Following Albania's opening up in 1991, emigration from the country and immigration from rural areas to the cities accelerated the disintegration of the traditional patriarchal family, with three generations sharing one home. However, patriarchal traditions on issues related to unemployment, poverty and personal safety still remain and Albanian women and girls, particularly in rural and poor areas, are still being denied many fundamental rights.
Oxfam in Albania
Oxfam works with local partners to alleviate poverty focusing on capacity building of local authorities and of civil society organizations as well as supporting local sustainable development to ensure citizens can exercise their rights and improve their living conditions.
We address the risk of more people falling below the poverty line by improving access to better opportunities and resources to the most vulnerable, isolated and socially excluded groups of people without stable income.
We aim to strengthen women’s participation in the economy and to help them become actors of change, promoting sustainable development and participating in decision-making policies.
We support the improved implementation of environmental standards and innovative natural resources management, to impact upon climate change and increase the resilience of rural, urban and vulnerable women and men.
Our work in Albania is based on the needs of local communities, identified through years of experience and cooperation with partners in the region. There are four basic approaches we apply in our work:
- Participatory approach and social equity: those most affected should have a leading role and actively participate in the decision making process.
- Empowering: Citizens, and women in particular, should be empowered to make informed decisions and choices that will help them overcome common problems.
- Networking: Networking is essential for sharing and learning about already existing experiences in the same sector and should help identify and develop better practices and policies.
- Public-private partnership: The public-private partnership model allows public money to be spent in a more efficient way, and encourages the local civil society to become leader in the problem solving process regarding their communities.
The Oxfam team in Albania is part of the Oxfam regional office in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We work together in both countries, where we are present since early 1990s.