International Rural Women Day: Banding together to forge ahead

UNDP Albania

October 15, 2022
ReLOaD Albania_UNDP

Belkisa Musaku is a 21-year-old artist and the youngest of the network. She has loved drawing since she was a child and creates wonderful black and white decorations.

A project targeting a network of artisan women in Lushnja is bearing fruit. It is helping women take their destiny into their own hands and forge ahead. Here is how:

The Center for Cooperation, Development, and Integration has received a grant from the ReLOad2 programme operating in Albania to establish a network of women artisans with the aim of empowering them socially and economically and advocating for their voice and participation in local decision-making. The project targets 20 women living in the villages of Lushnja Municipality. The 20 women received training and mentoring to help them create higher-quality products, market them better, and ultimately earn more money.

They sell artisanal goods and products for the food industry. Even the techniques for promoting and selling their goods on social media were taught to them. The people responsible for carrying out the project took care to identify regional agricultural goods and handicrafts produced by women artisans in rural areas that have the potential to do well on the market. This network of women reached out to Lushnja Municipality to introduce their project and advocate for their needs and those of other women like them.

This emerging partnership is also assisting local government representatives in developing their institutional capacities to forge alliances that support addressing the needs of underserved communities locally and establishing a participatory approach to decision-making and budget programming.

Eriselda Sefa, the mayor of Lushnja, declares: "Our budget will provide financial support for this network. The municipality will employ the network's artisans to impart their knowledge and skills to young people in order to preserve the tradition and generate income. The mayor concluded that the women's group will act as a loose network to represent the municipality at national fairs.

"Thru the execution of this project, a new partnership between Lushnja Municipality and Lushnja's women's network has been established to launch budgeting and funding of civil society initiatives, serving as a best practice for other CSOs", says ReLOaD project manager Juljan Papaproko.

Additionally, he emphasizes how this project's impact is consistent with the ReLOaD project's objective of bridging local government and CSOs to improve the quality of services. According to Juljan, empowering women and girls with the appropriate tools will enable them to live better lives and establish themselves as role models.


Flutura Gjata is a 62-year-old economist from Barbullinje, Fiershegan. She specializes in embroidery, knitting, and the production of jams. "I have joined this network of women to learn how to better market my products".

Natasha Mebelli, a 64-year-old retired economist from Lushnja, started embroidering when she was 15. Now that she has retired, she thinks she can generate a modest income. She thinks that being part of the network will help her sell more products.

Belkisa Musaku is a 21-year-old artist and the youngest of the network. She has loved drawing since she was a child and creates wonderful black and white decorations. Belkisa has started her own small-scale economic activity, convinced that she can succeed.

Pensioner Jorgjie Stambolliu-Kolonje is 68 years old. She is well known in her community for her excellent pickles, homestyle cooking, and fruit drying.

Her goods are highly regarded, especially by Albanian emigrants who return home for the holidays and want to bring their favorite food with them.  She is now making good use of her former passion by producing both for the family and for sale. She hopes that joining his network will help her market her goods more effectively and increase sales. Even posting information about her products on Facebook is something she is capable of. "Who would have thought that when I retired, I'd sell my goods on Facebook?".

Elisabeta Metushi, a 55-year-old instructor of Albanian language and literature, is a second craftsperson from Savr. She is renowned for her love of creating jewelry out of stones and pearls. The literature she teaches appears to feed her artistic feelings, which are then manifested in the amazing juxtaposition of stones and colors. An actual artist! For Elisabetta, a small collection of vibrant stones can be used to fashion a wide range of unique items, including bracelets, neckpieces, earrings, and more. Her influence can be felt in the forms she has worked on fervently for 15 years. Elisabeta has attempted to sell her goods in the past, but she has been unsuccessful. After joining the network, she thinks her marketing abilities will advance and she will be able to draw in more clients.

These are only six of the network's twenty women members. They have realized the strength of banding together to support one another and speak out for other women going through the same struggles.

Their lives have changed for the better as a result of the ReLOaD2.

International Day of Rural Women is on October 15. This day is dedicated to the millions of women living in remote, rural places and celebrates their achievements and contributions towards rural development and agriculture.

Regional Programme for Local Democracy in the Western Balkans 2 - ReLOaD2 is funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).