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PRESS RELEASE November 14, 2019

Albania to Enhance Gender Equality in Access to Economic Opportunities with World Bank Support

Washington, November 14, 2019 – Albania will improve gender equality in access to economic opportunities with support from a USD10 million loan approved today by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors. This financing will support the government’s efforts to improve gender equality through the recognition of ownership of immovable property, creating opportunities for women to access income-generating activities, and strengthening gender-informed policy making.

“The Government of Albania is making significant progress in bridging gender gaps in social and economic outcomes. Albania is close to gender parity in education and health outcomes, and women’s empowerment in political decision making is notable, with high levels of female representation at the top levels of the government and civil service”, said Anila Denaj, Minister of Finance and Economy of Albania. “The government is now tackling gender inequality in access to economic opportunities. We believe that the World Bank program will help alleviate the constraints on women’s access to employment and ability to succeed in the labor market.”

Despite improvements in recent years, legal and regulatory constraints, combined with implementation gaps, still hinder economic opportunities for women. The country loses an estimated 20 percent of its per capita GDP every year due to its low female labor-force participation rate, the overrepresentation of women in unpaid or poorly paid sectors, and lower average wages earned by women relative to men in similar positions.

“Albania can reach its potential only when everybody can actively and productively participate in the economy,” said Linda Van Gelder, World Bank Regional Director for the Western Balkans. “The World Bank is committed to working with the Government of Albania to ensure that the existing gender parity is translated into labor market outcomes and entrepreneurship opportunities for women.”

A Development Policy Financing (DPF) is a World Bank instrument that supports a country's program of policy and institutional actions that promote growth and sustainable poverty reduction. This DPF is the first solely gender-focused program in the World Bank, aiming to demonstrate that a strong gender-focused reform program can achieve visible impact. It is closely aligned with Albania’s National Development Plan for 2016–20 and supports conditions for Albania’s accession to the European Union (EU).

Some actions already undertaken by the government in this program include:

  • Increasing registration of women as co-owners of properties and improved legislation and regulations which allow women to use property to access financing;
  • Creating better conditions for women to participate in the labor market by requiring bidders in public procurement tenders to sign a non-discrimination declaration
  • Increasing incentives for women with children to join the labor market by reducing the student teacher ratio in preschools in several municipalities, which will raise the quality of preschool;
  • Increasing the share of women, including those categorized as vulnerable, employed through the National Employment Services; and,
  • Increasing the gender-responsive budgeting programs that enable the policy program to be adjusted to reflect women’s evolving role in the economy. 

The loan is expected to leverage 50-million Euro of proposed financing from the French Development Agency (AFD), and a technical assistance grant from AFD to support the implementation of the program.



Kym Louise Smithies
Ana Gjokutaj