Press Release

Promoting women’s leadership and participation in the local elections is key for Albania

02 May 2023

The local government elections on 14 May are an important opportunity to strengthen local democracy in Albania, and to consolidate past achievements in promoting women leadership in decision-making. Albania has made remarkable progress in promoting women’s political participation.

According to the 2023 “Women in Politics” global map developed by UN Women and Inter Parliamentary Union, the country ranks 1st for share of women cabinet ministers, and 42nd for percentage of women in Parliament, representing an improvement of 12 positions from 2021 when Albania was ranked 54th globally[1]. However, at the local level, women’s representation is still lower compared to men’s: 44% of local councils' seats were won by women during the 2019 local election and in only 8 of the 61 municipalities (13%) women were elected as mayors, which is even lower than EU average.[2]


Ahead of the start of the campaign, the United Nations in Albania reached out to political party leaders, advocating for women’s full and meaningful participation in local elections, and presenting a set of recommendations in three key areas.

First, continue to promote women’s representation at local level: the UN called for political parties to rigorously uphold the 50% gender quotas for the candidates lists for councilors as set forth by the Electoral Code, as well as the active participation of all women and girls in elections both as voters and as candidates, including women and girls with disabilities, Roma and Egyptian women, young women and rural women and girls. The UN specifically called for increasing the number of women candidates for mayoral positions. However, only 15 of 144 mayoral candidates (10.4%) are women[3], which is even lower compared to the proportion of women candidates in the 2019 local elections[4].

Second, address gender bias and harassment against women candidates: political parties participating in the electoral contest should actively collaborate with media outlets and the Audiovisual Media Authority, to ensure adequate coverage of women candidates, and to refrain from the use of derogatory language, gender stereotypes and other types of gender-based violence. A media monitoring report carried out by UN  Women during the 2021 national elections in Albania, showed that traditional and social media consistently undermined women candidates. In addition, a study conducted by UNDP confirmed that women politicians, compared to men, are more likely to experience violence. Political parties should take measures to effectively prevent and counter harassment and violence against women in elections, including by amending legislation to address violence against women candidates, voters and elected officials. Women and girls’ free votes should also be safeguarded, through countering family voting, coercion and intimidation of women voters.


Third, consolidate gender equality results at the local level: the 14 May elections provide a unique opportunity to put equal opportunities and participation at the centre of the local political agenda for sustainable development. This includes investing in girls’ education and women’s economic empowerment, as well as strengthening financial and social services such as early childhood development and access to kindergartens. Services should become available to all women and girls, including those most marginalized. Elected leaders should also continue to prioritize the effective functioning and resourcing of local referral mechanisms for coordinated response to domestic violence, as a key instrument to sustain protection and reintegration of women and girls survivors and at risk of violence.

Candidates for local councils and mayoral positions should draw on the European Charter for Equality between women and men in local life, to inform their political agendas and propositions. If elected, they can commit to sign the Charter within the first year of their mandate, and to align the action plans of the Municipality to its provisions. Eighteen municipalities in Albania have already signed the European Charter.

Promoting women’s participation will help Albania make further progress towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Women and men alike must not accept the role of women as passive spectators. They should work together to create an environment of equal opportunities. By including women in decision-making, we are actively contributing to create a more equal society for all.


[1] UN Women and IPU, 2023:

[2]According to UN Women, in Europe in 2019, the share of women among municipal mayors was 15%, twice lower than the share of women amongst councilors (30%). See page 17 in this publication:


[4] According to OSCE, in 2019 there were 11 women out of 97 candidates (11.3%).

Fiona McCluney_web

Fiona McCluney

Resident Coordinator
Fiona McCluney is the UN Resident Coordinator in Albania. Ms. McCluney brings over 30 years of experience in development practicioner and urban planner, including 12 years of service to the UN system. From 2015 until recently she served as United Nations Resident Coordinator in Montenegro, concurrently working as UNDP Resident Representative until the end of 2018. Prior to her appointment in Montenegro, Ms McCluney worked with UN-Habitat as Chief Technical Adviser and Head of their Country Office in Palestine (2012-2015), and in Iraq (2011-2012). From 2008 to 2011, she served with UN-Habitat in Iraq as Head of Urban Governance, Land and Housing. Before joining the UN, Fiona was Principal Consultant for employee-owned GHK Consulting Ltd, UK (now ICF International Ltd) where she undertook assignments for central and local government in UK (Cabinet Office, DEFRA, DFID), held long term positions on DFID funded urban and environmental programmes in India (Andhra Pradesh, Kolkata) and on the design of urban loans for ADB and World Bank (Pakistan, China). Fiona has held planning policy positions in local government (Southampton City Council, London Borough of Lewisham), for the Hong Kong government (Territorial Planning Dept) and in small island development (Anguilla, St Helena). She holds an MPhil in Urban Design and Regional Planning from the University of Edinburgh.

Michele Ribotta

UN Women
Representative and Chair of UN Albania Gender Group
Mr. Ribotta joined UN Women Albania in September 2019. Prior to this assignment, he was adviser to the Director of the UN System Coordination Division in New York. In his capacity, he has driven UN Women’s efforts to mainstream gender in the work of the UN Development System at global, regional and country levels. Before joining UN Women, Mr. Ribotta led the UN Coherence learning team at the UN System Staff College, providing training and facilitation services to UN Country Teams on leadership and strategic planning. Prior to that, he served with UNDP Egypt as Head of the UN Resident Coordinator Office. Mr. Ribotta has a master’s degree in law obtained at the University of Rome, La Sapienza.

UN entities involved in this initiative

United Nations Resident Coordinator Office
UN Women
United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women

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