Albanian MPs approve new women-dominated Cabinet

September 17, 2021
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama

TIRANA -- Albanian lawmakers on Friday approved the country’s new women-dominated cabinet after a parliamentary session that lasted more than 20 hours.

Edi Rama was voted as prime minister for the third time after a landslide election victory in April.

"The battle against gender discrimination and domestic violence remains very open and far from being won," Rama said before the lawmakers voted for his cabinet with 77 votes out of 140.

"There are still discriminatory forces and negative energy that act today in our society in harm of women and girls," Reuters news agency quoted him as saying.

Rama said fighting crime and corruption will be the priority in this third term.

The new government forecasts economic growth of around 4 percent annually following fall of 3.3 percent in 2020 as a result of the pandemic.

Albania is a NATO member and aims to join the European Union one day, but a lack of reforms and hesitation on the part of EU members for more enlargement have slowed down the accession process.

The left-wing Socialist Party secured a record third consecutive mandate in an April 25 parliamentary election, with 74 seats. The center-right Democratic Party got 59 seats in opposition.

Rama, 57, boasted in his speech that "this new government will enter history as the cabinet with the highest number of women" — 12 in the 17-member cabinet, propelling Albania to the top of global rankings in terms of the percentage of women holding cabinet positions.

According to the latest UN figures, dating from January 2021, Nicaragua topped the list at the time with 10 women among 17 cabinet members.

Rama has included women in top positions throughout his career, including during his tenures as culture minister, mayor of the Albanian capital Tirana, and as prime minister, a position he has held since 2013.

However, Rama warned that no minister would be favored due to their gender and that the length of their terms would depend solely on their performance in their posts, “without gender discrimination.”

The government's main challenges will be completing the reconstruction process following the November 2019 earthquake and coping with the pandemic and its impact on the economy.

The prime minister aims to turn the country into an energy producer and exporter and to diversify energy with solar and wind products. Rama also wants to make Albania by 2030 "an absolute champion of tourism in the Balkans".

Newcomer Delinda Ibrahimaj was appointed to run the country’s finance and economy portfolios. Olta Xhacka keeps her post of foreign minister, as do Culture Minister Elva Margariti and Education Minister Evis Kushi.

Another newcomer, Frida Krifca, will run the Agriculture Ministry, with a goal of achieving $1 billion in agricultural products exports. The new parliament speaker is also a woman, Lindita Nikolla, a former education minister.

Albania, with a population 2.8 million, has been a NATO member since 2009 and hopes to launch full membership negotiations with the European Union later this year. -- Agencies

September 17, 2021
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