Center for Gender Justice: A Place to Belong

by | Feb 17, 2023 | Heartivist Of The Week

Only 2 out of 10 women own property in Albania. They are deprived of their right to inherit and ownership.

“My biggest hope is to have a world where women and men can be equal, not only in the eyes of the law, but truly in real life”.

Adena Vangjeli, Executive Director of the Center for Gender Justice in Albania.

We all need a place to belong, somewhere we can settle our roots and allow our abilities and dreams to bloom, surrounded by peace and harmony. Yet, this is not the case for the vast majority of women in Albania. Immersed in a deeply patriarchal society, women in Albania are denied, due to cultural traditions, the possibility of inheriting property or even owning it, annihilating their independence and economic stability. Even though the right to inherit land and property is recognized by Albanian civil and family law, these women are still deprived of a place to belong. 

“Traditionally, the family’s home is inherited in the male line. According to the National Cadastre Agency, only 8% of women own land and only 19.1% of private property is registered in the name of women. That means that 80.9% of private property is in the name of men”, explains Adena Vangjeli, Executive Director of the Center for Gender Justice in Albania.

Economic Dependency and Domestic Violence

Apart from the inequality that constraining women from having property or even inheriting represents, a much bigger problem lies beneath: the economic dependency it creates, leaving Albanian women helpless while facing domestic violence in a country where 60% of women aged 15 to 49 have suffered domestic violence, according to UN Women

“Often victims don’t report domestic violence because they have nowhere to go. The household belongs to their husband and if they leave they become homeless along with their children. So, they swallow their tears and go back home to their abusers”, expresses Adena, with a heavy heart, remembering the hundreds of unfair cases she has witnessed along the years.

Speaking Up for Women’s Rights

Adena Vangjeli is a lawyer and a women’s rights activist. She was born in the south of Albania, in the city of Vlora. At 22, after finishing college in Triana, the country’s capital, she returned to her hometown to volunteer at “Vatra” Psycho-Social Center, a national women’s organization that works against human trafficking and domestic violence. Along with them she began to work with rural women and their bleak reality struck her.

“So many women don’t have any knowledge of their human rights. Mainly in the rural areas, women believe that not having a property or not being allowed to inherit is the norm around the world”, remembers Adena. This is why the seed to create her own organization to help change this adversity began to grow and strengthen with every unfair woman´s story she encountered.

A Light at the End of the Tunnel

In June 2022, Adena, along with other women’s rights advocates, established the Center for Gender Justice in Albania, a national NGO that works to empower women and protect their rights.

“Listening to the stories of the women I have supported has motivated me to continue with this work. The biggest challenge is changing the mentality of women, they assume that their husbands and brothers should inherit the family’s properties just for being male, just as they assume that it is correct to tolerate the violence  towards them and their children”, assures Adena.

Receiving a Helping Hand

Adena Vangjeli submitted her program: It is time to talk about women’s inheritance rights in Albania! And received a grant form The Pollination Project to support her vital work in this field. With the help of TPP, she was able to conduct 10 info sessions in 3 Albanian districts offering rights information, legal counseling and awareness to 200 women, paving the way towards gender equality.

“I felt very grateful when I received The Pollination Project seed grant because it was a great opportunity for the Center for Gender Justice in Albania”, said Adena. “I am very motivated to continue working in this field, because it is much needed in the Albanian reality and context”.

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