Tirane, 27 January 2012 - Four main networks of civil society organizations working on gender equality issues, issued a formal request to the Parliamentary Commission of Electoral Reform for increasing women’s representation in politics and decision-making. This act is the result of the joint efforts of the Coalition for Enhancing Women’s and Youth Participation in Politics, the Network for Empowering Albanian Women, ‘Millenium’ Women’s Network and ‘Equality in Decision-making’ Network. In this regard, a national Round Table was held in Tirana on 27 January, with the support of UN Women. The main purpose of the meeting was the joint discussion and drafting of the steps-to-be-taken for requesting changes to the Electoral Code, changes that would support the increasing of the number of women’s representation in political decision-making.
At present, there are 4 Electoral Code issues that deal with gender equality, and on such basis, the Round Table issued a Press Release focusing on the ‘determination of the civil society to integrate all the proposals that will lead to increasing the participation and representation of women in politics and decision-making.’
The Round Table findings were later discussed and elaborated at the expert level under the gender and legal perspective. Subsequently, the final product was presented on a dedicated hearing session to the Ad-Hoc Committee on the Electoral Reform, as a set of joint proposals for changing the Electoral Code. The hearing session was held on 02 February and the set of proposals included the following fundamental requests:
1. The new Electoral Code should guarantee that at least 30% of the next Parliament seats will be issued to women and girls. This minimum percentage is an indispensable representation that should be extended to 30% of mayors, heads of communes and heads of regional councils.
2. The Code should guarantee that 30% of the members of the Central Electoral Commission, Voting Centers Commissions and Electoral Administration Commisisons, should be women and girls.
3. CEC should reject lists of political parties that do not respect the minimum quota of 30% for women candidates.
4. Strengthening and implementation of sanctions for the elimination of family voting (punishable with penalty: fine up to three months imprisonment).
According to Altin Hazizaj, from the Coalition for Enhancing Women’s and Youth Participation in Politics, the Round Table was an excellent event. ‘Never before the civil society was united in a single cause’, he said. While Edlira Çepani from ‘Equality in Decision-making’ Network assessed that “the Round Table formalized for the first time the unity of the major organizations working in the area of strengthening women’s representation in decision-making. Finally, the civil society came out with a single voice and joint requests. The Round Table is the first step of a series of joint activities of the Civil Society that will follow in the coming weeks, in order to achieve the objective for increasing the representation and participation of women in politics.”