IceQueen, why irrelevant? Achieving women's rights is a process and its achievements depend on the culture. Red China's main goals were to avoid being crushed economically by Japan & dominated by the West.
Women in Albania: opportunities and obstacles
Talking of women in Albania, their lives, their hopes, their efforts, is
not a kind of task that can be fulfilled within an article; Albania is
still in a way "the unknown one of the Mediterranean", as I think of it
when I have to face the endless questions of foreigners.
Albania has not kindly knocked at Europe's doors; aware of having been
part of it for more than two thousand years, it has flung them open
traumatically, spectacularly, tragically. Stolen boats cross the
Mediterranean, looking for the lost islands of dreams; like Ulysses, their
ancient ancestor. This is the burning side of Albania. The other side,
rocky, hard, with flowers grown on ashes, is still there, on the east
shore of the Adriatic.
To be able to speak of the women of this country I have to give a brief
description of the historical, social and political contest in which they
have lived and still live.
Albania is situated in the Balkans, the land of the Illyrians and
Albanians. Through here, through the famous Via Egnatia, passed the Roman
armies and the crusades to go eastwards; through this land the northern
peoples headed for the south countries. A geographically strategic knot, a
melting pot of different cultures: Illyrian-Pelasgian, Greek and Roman,
Byzantine and Oriental. This is the land where, more than in the other
Balkan countries, different religion creeds have met; only here the free
European women have been forced to cover their faces. The Albanians, after
a desperate but glorious resistance of 25 years, after the Turkish-Islamic
occupation, were left in an extremely different spiritual and ideological
universe. In all legends, in mythology and in the Albanian popular poetry
- extraordinary for its artistic expression - you experiment a strong
fatality, the passing from the "normal" to the "a-normal", from life to
death. For centuries the Albanian women have experienced the fateful
destiny of being totally discriminated and, at the same time, worshipped
in poems and splendid legends. As if men suffered this cruel law too, a
law which forced them to oppress the beautiful creatures they loved.
Like all Mediterranean women, the Albanian women bore the burden of life.
They worked the land, brought up their children, sustained traditions and
culture, while the men were emigrating. They transmitted the life code
totheir children. Because they are closer to life and death.
Though the Albanian women have never taken part in the social life,
nevertheless they have always fought for the freedom of their country, the
only liberating act they were allowed. During the Second World War, 6000
women, of a population of only one million people, joined the partisan
army in the antifascist struggle. The communist Government soon gave women
total equality with men - the right to vote, equal salaries, etc. But
equality in not a mere legal act; it is accomplished only by means of a
transformation of the economic, social, cultural and psychological
dimensions. Under the communist Government this process went on towards a
social progress, which nobody could possibly arrest. Women have gradually
entered the economic life of the country and have become the main
producing force, both in towns and in the rural areas. An eight-year
education system was made compulsory. The level of education of women, who
immediately used this opportunity, very soon reached high standards. These
changes were the basis for the future struggles against a patriarcal
mentality and a tradition of slavery. On the other side there were women
who were the subjects of a double strain and double oppression: inside and
outside the family. Inside, where they lived without even the strict
essential things; outside - the lack of free expression and human rights.
Their participation in the social life was at the same time a proof of
their values as well as of the struggle to gain this position.
Like in all ex-socialist countries in the transition period, even in
Albania there has been a considerable fall down of the representative
women rates in the high government positions, at all levels. If we refer
to the period before the 90s, women participation in the political life
was very high: more than 30%. Since 1991, with the new elections, there
are only 8 women out of 140 MPs, 5.7% of the total. There is one woman in
the government, but no women as prefect or mayor. In the judicial system
21% are women, 28% in the university system (professors), 8% heads of
ministerial departments, 35% in the welfare work, etc. Woman workers
occupied 80% of the light industry and education system. Today, after the
privatization and the shut down of factories, these women are unemployed.
In the rural areas women now work the land, which has been distributed to
small holders, without mechanization and have the whole household burden
on them, the children, etc. http://www.medmedia.org/review/numero2/en/art5.htm