Public debate in Geneva: The role of Albanian women in Switzerland

GENEVA, March 08, 2016 (Arbanon Blog) –The 8th of March symbolises the International Women’s Day, a worldwide event celebrating women’s achievements. On the occasion of the 2016 International Women’s Day, the Albanian Association of Students in Geneva arranged a round-table on the position of Albanian in Switzerland. I decided to attend this event to learn more about the constraints Albanian women face, and also to reflect on the solutions to strengthen gender equality in the Albanian society.

The event started at 7:30 pm at Uni Mail in Geneva and the following speakers were invited to present their views on this topic:

  • Mrs. Lurata Reci, public affairs specialist
  • Ms. Ardita Zeqiri, public health delegate
  • Mr. Bashkim Iseni, Director of the Albanian news portal Albinfo.ch

La femme albanaise.JPGThe first speaker started the debate by pointing out that woman in Switzerland face challenges climbing up the social ladder. Employment is often considered as the entry-point for women to achieve economic self-reliance, as well as securing equal access to the labour market and social security systems. Inadequate employments opportunities come as a result of discrimination, resulting into less empowerment. Therefore, Mrs Reci was of the opinion that the society needs to address discrimination and prejudices to advance the position of women, including Albanian women, in the Swiss society.

The second speaker re-iterated some of the points presented by the first speaker. However, she also believed language training for Albanian women, and family planning programs are primordial to empower women. When settling in a new country, it is paramount that women receive access to language training. This allows addressing social exclusion and ensuring increased participation of Albanian women in the Swiss society, as suggested by the speaker.

IMG_1606And finally, Dr Iseni spoke on the role of Albanian Kanuni, Albanian customary law, and the role of women vis-à-vis men. In short, the speaker was of the opinion that women are subdued and excluded socially. The fact that women have no legal entitlements to, for instance, heritage indicated that certain aspects of the Kanuni is considered as discriminatory to women. The speaker believed these cultural prejudices need to be address by the next generation of Albanians.

All in all, this gathering was an interesting occasion to reflect on the constrains Albanian women face in the Swiss society, and the solutions that may be applied to promote gender equality. Happy International Women’s Day 2016. /Blerim Mustafa

Photo credit: The Albanian Association of Students in Geneva, Blerim Mustafa (private)

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