The unbearable weight of men in the next parliament

The unbearable weight of men in the next parliament 

 Tirana Times -


For whomever thought that the quota of women in parliament set at 30 percent was not enough, for whomever thought that it had just touched the minimum obligation for a society whose 50 percent of members are women, for a political scene badly in need of women representatives, the day of the publication of the lists of candidates must have been a hard reckoning day. It must have been a tough day for women activists, women in active civil society and media, women in politics and women everywhere in Albania who are awake enough to realize that the next parliament is going to be yet again, miserably, boringly, alarmingly, a convention of men, alas. 

Reading through the lists of the main competing parties one can ascertain for a fact that: 

1. The 30% quota has not been respected and in some of the cases, in selected regions has been fully neglected with an exact 0 % of women present in the lists (depending of the party these regions are Berat, Kukes, Diber, Gjirokaster, etc) 

2. Even when the women names appear, expect for the symbolic name in the first three places the other women are either nonexistent or “strategically” located at the very sad end of the list. 

3. The pressure exerted by the international community including the EU delegation in Albania and the OSCE has yielded no results in changing this reality. 

But what can we feel except for disgust and disappointment? Could we say that the international actors should react by saying that they will not recognize these lists and will not recognize the elections with these “illegal” lists? Or will they quietly slip into their conformism seats and observe? (to be honest with the reader, the Electoral Code has a loophole that does not technically make these lists illegal, with all the other loopholes politicians have found to abuse it, the one going against women is there too and parties have chosen to use it. They will pay a 10 million lek, roughly $10.000 fine with no qualms!) 

Will the famous Central Election Commission headed by Lefterije Lleshi, a meager figure to make the case for women leaders, return these lists for reconsideration or just fine the political parties with the convenient sum ? 

One could argue that the performance of some women in this parliament, their lack of ethics, their complete failure to inspire any type of working compromise, their vulgar language that often surpasses that of men, their hate towards each other and a series of other performance failures indicates that citizens should not be that concerned since the presence of such women brings none of the good things that are assumed: less corruption, less conflict, less fights — more values. 

One would be mistaken though. All those things granted (and God knows how many of them are indeed true) there is no replacement in the Parliament for women. Nobody can fight better for women’s rights than women. Nobody can bring their uses to the floor with the same genuine concern. And nobody else can serve as a role model, an inspiring example or a pattern to follow (…sometimes dubious …) to other younger, more capable women out there. 

Should we be talking about quotas or about a civic spirit that recognizes the need for women participation in itself not being constrained by rules by being fueled by the desire to strengthen and uphold the principle of adequate representation? In the last case, rest assured that this kind of spirit is missing at such intensity that the void it leaves behind, the result of a lack of women in the next legislative body of the Republic of Albania is almost unbearable.