Public statement – the new electoral code openly discriminates girls and women in Albania!

Today, in its plenary session, members of the Albanian Parliament by a wide consensus voted for the approval of the Electoral Code, which among others was also one of the pre-conditions for obtaining the candidate country status in the European Union.

The reaction of European structures, the U.S.A and OSCE was so prompt to this achievement of Albania, that in the middle of greetings and congratulations was forgotten that the Electoral Code does not yet meet the basic principal of the Albanian Constitution, that of equality of the citizens. The concern that the political class in Albania will not reach to meet any of the 12 recommendations of the EU, obligates our international friends to greet even the smallest step that Albania takes towards the advancement of the EU, regardless of how this is achieved.

The political crisis between Leaders and opposition today has turned into its victims groups that are underrepresented in the political process in the country and that ironically their involvement in politics and decision-making would lead to an end the long and tiresome political crisis for a simple citizen.

In our opinion, the new Electoral Code is openly discriminating women and girls across Albania. The discrimination lies in the fact that the Code and the Parliament as the legislative body does not give any legal guarantee that woman will have equal treatment and opportunities by political parties, as well as men, to be candidates in the parliamentary elections and also the local ones.

The lack of establishment of legal guarantees in the Electoral Code creates the premise that parties distinguish, exclude or limit equal running of women versus men or even further to prefer men running to a greater extent than women. This attitude would be discriminatory and in contravention of the Constitution, the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Law on Protection from Discrimination in Albania.

With as much indignation, we saw today that how the civil society demands and the demands of more than 8000 people from all over Albania, who have signed petitions and opinions calling for strengthening of the gender quota, were not being taken into consideration and it seemed in those few minutes that lasted the session of the approval of the Code in the Assembly.

However the Parliament of Albania and its members are still in time to attain a fair representation, impartial and merited of men and women in politics. Pas hyrjes ne fuqi te new Code, every citizen and member of the parliament is entitled to request for improvements in the content of the law.

The Ad–hoc coalition of civil society organizations working to advance women in politics and decision-making, in cooperation with our partners and friends at home and abroad, will be supportive of any legal and political initiative, which strengthens the guarantees of participation and representation of women in Parliament and in local government.

We demand that in the coming Electoral code to be clearly determined that “at least 1 in every 3 names throughout the multi-name lists to be from the less represented sex” and “Lists of political parties that do not meet this condition be rejected by the CEC to implement the gender quota”. This is the only way and the proper mechanism of how the political parties in Albania could ensure representation of men and women in politics.

The state today owes a lot to women around Albania, because has treated them as unequal towards men. This prejudice is set on the highest level, in that of lawmaking, shows that the spirit of discrimination against women, is still present in the mentality of Parliament and its members. All together we should create opportunities for women to be part of politics, because gender equality, representation and participation in politics are basic issues of democracy and human rights.