As a women and someone who has worked as agronomist in rural areas for more than a decade, and has run for almost 20 years the National Extension Service, expanded along every region of Albania, is impossible to remain indifferent. Neither resist from becoming an active part in efforts to address and support women groups living in rural areas. As a matter of fact, many of these women are faced with poverty and existence, lack of public services, low access on tenure, the disadvantaged state in family and society, the frequent flooding and long draughts, etc. It is for this reason that in 2006 - together with a group of colleagues, we decided to establish “Women in Sustainable Agriculture, WSA”.
Women are the ‘invisible pillars’ of the rural communities in our country and of the society at large. Even though their contribution in rural communities, family and farm is very important, women are as yet retained ‘under shadow’, underestimated, and more importantly supplied with serious problems such as; domestic violence; limited access in health, education, and transport services; land ownership issues, hard work and unequal distribution of labor within family, etc. I am fully convinced that gender issues in agriculture and rural development are one of the most important challenges for Albania in the long way towards progress and social emancipation.
Despite the important efforts that are made in addressing these challenges through national commitments on equal opportunities, as well as the achieved progress in political, legal and institutional framework, gaps are still existent and disparities for social groups of rural women remain big.
Being active in the non for profit sector for almost one decade, and having expanded affiliates and membership network in almost all regions of Albania, “Women in Sustainable Agriculture” has cooperated with various donor and agencies for the implementation of a series of initiatives with priority placed on areas with expressed level of poverty. In meantime, WSA has joined and has become an active member of different local forums and networks committed to economic and social aspects of development, in the common efforts aimed at raising the level of awareness, proposing viable alternatives and addressing issues and concerns to the respective structures. ‘Women in Sustainable Agriculture’ will carry out the ongoing work and contribution to not only meet the gender objectives at domestic level, but at a broader level, too - at the regional and global one - namely the FAO Objectives on Gender for 2025, as well as other major objectives.
Also, WSA is planning to introduce an innovative approach in dealing with interest groups that would be inclusion of student groups from the Agriculture University (Agro-Environment Department) in various activities.
WSA has been active with projects supported by foreign donor agencies and state institutions. It has participated in many national and international events addressing gender issues.
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