During 24–27 May 2022, Deputy Executive Director of UN Women Åsa Regnér made her first official visit to Albania and Georgia. The purpose of the Georgia visit was to become acquainted with and deepen the long-term cooperation that connects UN Women with the country’s legislative and executive branches in a variety of directions. The Albania visit focused on the country’s progress towards achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment and the promotion of gender equality as a key factor in advancing EU integration.
Ms. Regnér was joined on her visit to Georgia by the UN Women Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia, Alia El-Yassir. Together, Ms. Regnér and Ms. El-Yassir met with the Speaker of the Parliament of Georgia, Shalva Papuashvili, and the Chairperson of the Gender Equality Council of the Parliament, Nino Tsilosani, where the parties reaffirmed existing and future areas of cooperation.
The visit continued with a meeting between UN Women representatives and the President of Georgia, Salome Zourabichvili. The meeting’s purpose was to support UN Women in implementing policies on the gender equality and women’s empowerment principles and to highlight the President’s contribution in this regard.
Together with the local leadership of UN Women, Ms. Regnér and Ms. El-Yassir also met with the Head of the Administration of the Government of Georgia, Revaz Javelidze. They were joined by Niko Tatulashvili, Advisor to the Prime Minister of Georgia on Human Rights and Head of the Inter-Agency Commission on Gender Equality, Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, and Maka Peradze, Head of the Human Rights Secretariat. The parties discussed the areas of cooperation between UN Women and the Government of Georgia and the importance of supporting ongoing projects.
After concluding her visit to Georgia on 25 May 2022, Ms. Regnér continued to Albania to make her first official visit to the country. There, Ms. Regnér met with high level government representatives, civil society organizations and international partners. This is the first high level visit by a UN Women Representative to the country.
During her meeting with the Prime Minister, Edi Rama, Ms. Regnér praised Albania’s significant achievements in the area of gender equality, including with regards to leadership and political participation, while noting remaining challenges to accelerate and sustain progress, including with regards to women’s safety and security, as well as their economic empowerment, especially in rural areas.
Ms. Regnér’s meeting with the Minister of Health and Social Protection, Ogerta Manastirliu, centered on the implementation of Albania’s new Strategy for Gender Equality 2022-2030 and the securing of adequate investments to achieve gender equality objectives.
Among other high-level talks, Ms. Regnér met with the Minister of Finance and Economy, Delina Ibrahimaj, whom she congratulated for the significant progress made in the area of gender-responsive budgeting (GRB). Ms. Regnér also met with Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Ermonela Felaj, to discuss the role of Parliament in supporting the implementation of gender equality commitments, and offered support in continuing to align the Albanian legal framework to international human rights standards.
During her high-level meetings, Ms. Regnér urged government officials to develop a second National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security which will further support women’s full participation in key sectors, while strengthening prevention of and responses to gender-based violence.
Ms. Regnér also met with the Ambassador of Sweden to Albania, Elsa Håstad, and the Head of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), Petra Burcher, thanking Sweden for its strong partnership and support for UN Women’s work in Albania. During a visit to the European Union Delegation, she also thanked the Head of Development Cooperation, Hubert Perr, for their continuous financial support and strategic partnership in promoting women’s rights and gender equality in Albania.
Ms. Regnér had the opportunity to meet with several civil society organizations, recognizing their valuable contribution in continuing to protect and promote Albanian women’s rights. She also visited several projects supported by UN Women, including a re-integration center for women survivors of violence and an economic empowerment project aiding women affected by the 2019 earthquake.