Albanian women and children are suffering from low levels of empowerment, a lack of freedom, and a concerning level of exposure to violence, according to the results of a survey by World Vision Albania.
Through a random sampling approach, the report questioned over 460 mothers between 35-50 and children between 11-17. World Vision looked at household decision making, asset ownership and management, time management and freedom, as well as health and nutrition, education, psycho-social wellbeing, and general well-being.
“The main barriers to women’s empowerment are their inability to redistribute the burden of care, lack of access to employment opportunities, harmful gender norms and stereotypes in communities they live in, high prevalence of GBV, and lack of access to basic legal services. Interviews confirmed that the above-listed adversities shape the everyday life of Albanian women, as even though significant progress has been achieved in the last decade, especially in terms of women’s economic and political participation, women are still constrained by social and cultural norms, limiting their freedom and choices,” it notes.
Results show that only 1% of Albanian women were empowered across all report factors, demonstrating significant issues present at a family, society, and institutional level. The report noted with concern that women’s decision-making in Albania remains limited due to patriarchal norms, and the husband’s opinion dominates, especially in financial matters.
Only 61% of respondents said they had some influence over household assets, including land and property, whereas a staggering 68% said they did not have control over their own time and did not have help with caregiving or domestic work.
According to data from 2018, just 8% of Albanian women own land despite the law allowing them to do so. This is due to the tradition of men being the head of the household. It is also worth noting that men are de facto designated ‘head of household’ in legal matters and institutional documents.
Results of the report show that women only have control of assets if they are items like small kitchen appliances (92%).
A paltry 41% of women said they felt empowered personally, with the vast majority feeling overruled by the men in their lives. Furthermore, 14% thought domestic violence was justified in cases of the woman being unfaithful or defying her husband. Furthermore, 52% identified with harmful social norms and traditions that sustain sexism even though it is to their personal detriment.
These harmful norms include “that mothers should make most of the decisions about how children are brought up, father’s major responsibility is to provide financially for his children and some type of works are not appropriate for women.”
When it comes to physical and legal freedoms, just over half said they enjoyed personal freedom of movement, while only 9% said they understood and had access to their civil rights. Twenty-two percent said they could access the legal system. This demonstrates that while there is a framework in place, women have little knowledge of their rights or the services that are available.
The situation was also dire when it comes to children. Only 6% of those surveyed achieved well across all factors.
In terms of education, just a quarter considered themselves functionally literate, but 70% had a positive view of their educational future and career.
On the topic of their emotional and physical wellbeing, almost 60% said they were exposed to violence and abuse in some way, mainly from family members and friends. Boys were more likely to be victims or witness it than girls.
A quarter of child respondents said they had heard of sexual violence in their community, while only 26% were aware of online harm and dangers.
58% said they were exposed to violence and abuse, mainly from family members and friends. Boys were more likely to be abused than girls. A quarter said they heard of sexual violence in the community, and 26%, of online harm.
Even more concerning was the fact that some 7% of children had probable or potential signs of depression.
Overall the report found that higher levels of education amongst women led to increased levels of child well-being. More specifically, children of literate women are better nourished and have higher levels of self-esteem. Women educated to a higher level are also less likely to have sexist viewpoints, have more decision-making capabilities, more control over assets, and more understanding over accessing legal assistance. However, they are less likely to have control over their time due to their role of being a parent, running a home, and working in a challenging job.
It also found links between positive maternal mental health and children with positive self-esteem and learning attitudes. Women’s sexism also affects children’s resilience – mothers with sexist attitudes have children with lower resilience.
Most importantly, mothers with the decision-making power and control over household assets who do not accept domestic violence and are free from domestic violence themselves also protect their children from violence.
Following the report’s analysis, World Vision has made a number of recommendations, including addressing domestic violence against women and children, addressing harmful social and community norms, and investing in effective women empowerment models.