In the small town of Librazhd, Peace Corps volunteer Danielle, along with Arlis, head of the Environmental Studies and Implementation Center, are executing a voluntary initiative to empower 25 women of Librazhd. The initiative is aimed at supporting knowledge to change minds and helping to create an impact in society. They are building their capacities in terms of entrepreneurship and how to expand their efforts to generate income. The women come from different areas of society such as unemployed, economically disadvantaged, divorced, and from rural villages. ArlisAlikaj says, he is happy to do something different for the women of his city, as they are the force of change and a psychologically motivated and healthy woman means strong families. Alongside difficulties in a small community, Arlis has broken “taboo” where a 26-year-old manworks with older women. During the interview, Arlis shows text messages he received from concerned husbands while the women were in Shkoder. However, with the support from Danielle, together they managed to bring the women outside of Librazhd to change the environment and prejudices of the community. Let’s follow Danielle’s Interview regarding the idea around this interesting project and how everything came to be:
Question 1 : Who is Danielle?
Danielle has spent the past year and a half serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Albania.Currently, she facilitates projects at a local bashkia. Prior to Peace Corps, she worked in the construction industry aiding in the coordination and execution of multi-million-dollar projects. She has an MBA and a degree in Communications. She also has a degree in French, which she acquired while studying and living in France. Danielle is highly passionate about helping those around her. Her hobbies include improv comedy, volunteering, traveling, and spending time with her nieces.
Question 2: What is your motivation working with women?
The voice of an entire population, men and women equally, is greater than the singular voice of men and women. As a daughter, a sister, an auntie, and a woman I believe women’s empowerment is essential to the growth and development of our society. Working with women and helping them realize their capacities and contribution to society are the building blocks to gender equality. Women’s empowerment not only benefits the women themselves, but also, their communities, families, future generations, and the country as a whole. Gender inequality threatens the lives of women and children. Living in an equitable society increases a country’s economy, minimizes poverty, and creates innovation, and the overall development of society.
Question 3: How you define women’s in Albania?
The women of Albania are emerging from an oppressed society that is full of potential and thedesire to improve themselves and their communities. The women of Albania are strong and have the strength to create positive changes. However, the women need to unite as a whole and find their collectivistic potential.When the women of Albania unite their voice to stand up to change, there’s no limit how far their communities can go.
Question 4: How do you see Albania and its culture?
The Albanian culture is a culture filled with love for the family and pride for its country. The culture is highly gendered but it is also quickly changing as more Albanian’s have access to the internet, outside world, and influx of policy changes in government. Right now, is a key time to start empowering women and keep the momentum going for generations to come.
Question 5: Where does an US women different from Albanian?
Women in the United States and Albania differ through societal norms and expectations. In the U.S., women and girls aren’t expected to solely manage the home and have more independence from their family and society. This independence allows women to contribute more in local economies and work to implement change in their communities. Whereas Albanian women are expected to manage their household, work, have a family, and take care of family members including parents and grandparents. Albanian women are shamed and have guilt if they try to follow opportunities and live life away from their families. Women in Albania experience strong societal expectations on the notion on marriage and children whereas in America such notions are declining and more women are not having children or marrying.
Question 6: A message from you as e volunteer to everyone who is reading this interview
The empowerment of women begins at home with our families, at work, and in our communities. Women should work with a united voice to inspire girls and change the perception of how girls are valued at the individual, community, and institutional levels. We must build a nurturing environment that equips girls to make impactful life decisions and meaningful contributions to society.
Interviewed: Arlis Alikaj