Albania is ranked 52 out of 86 in the 2012 Social Institutions and Gender Index. The country was ranked 51 out of 102 in the 2009 Social Institutions and Gender Index

The country’s Human Development Index (HDI) score in 2011 is 0.739, placing it in 70th place out of a total of 187 countries. The UNDP Gender Inequality Index in 2011 is 0.271. Albania’s 2011 World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Index ranking is 0.6748, placing it in 78th place (out of 135 countries).

Discriminatory Family Code: 

Albania adopted a new Family Code in 2003.[1] The legal age of marriage is 18 years for women and men.[2] Early marriage is not widespread in Albania, but does occur.  Data from the 2008-9 Demographic and Household Survey indicates that 9.4% of women aged 20-49 were married before the aged of 18.[3]  Of these, 22.2% had no or basic (four years) primary education, indicating a link between early marriage and denial of access to education.[4] Within the Roma community, girls are sometimes married off at the age of 13-14.[5] In rural areas, most marriages are arranged.[6] Despite the legislation in place, forced marriages occur, particularly within the Roma minority.[7] 

Polygamy does not appear to be legal in Albania, and is not a common practice.

Under the Family Code, Albanian parents share equal parental authority.[8] According to the 2010 CEDAW report, women are more likely to be granted custody of children in the event of divorce.[9]Divorce carries a high level of social stigma for women,[10] and is very uncommon in Albania: according to DHS data from 2008-9, only 1.2% of women aged 15-19 were divorced.[11] In rural areas, male domination is very prominent, both over the household and over women more generally.[12] Albanian women have the right to pass their citizenship onto their children, in the event that the child’s father is not an Albanian citizen.[13]

The Civil Code gives men and women equal rights to inheritance of property and recognises two types of inheritance, legal and testamentary.[14] In practice, in most cases, inheritance follows the male line, and men inherit family-owned land, mainly because women move to the husband’s family home upon marrying.[15]  If a single woman has inherited property from her father, this passes to her husband’s family if she then goes on to marry.[16] The phenomenon of disinheritance in favour of men is rare,[17] but not because discrimination against women does not exist: rather, it reflects the fact that women have poor access to land and property in the first place.

[1] CEDAW (2010), p.12 [2] CEDAW (2010), p.112 [3] Institute of Statistics, Institute of Public Health [Albania] and ICF Macro (2010), p.90 [4] Institute of Statistics, Institute of Public Health [Albania] and ICF Macro (2010), p.90 [5] US Department of State (2010a) [6] CEDAW (2010), p.116 [7] ACPAR (2010), pp.40, 53 [8] CEDAW (2010), p.112 [9] CEDAW (2010), p.116 [10] CEDAW (2010), p116 [11] Institute of Statistics, Institute of Public Health [Albania] and ICF Macro (2010), p.88 [12] CEDAW (2010), p.107 [13] CEDAW (2010), p.57 [14] US Department of State (2010a) [15] CEDAW (2010), p.108 [16] CEDAW (2010), p.108; ACPAR (2010), p.51 [17] ACPAR (2010), p.51

Restricted Physical Integrity: 

The Albanian Criminal Code does not contain any specific provisions regarding domestic violence, although it is mentioned in the Civil Code, in the context of government responsibility for providing support to victims of domestic violence and in campaigning against domestic violence.[18]  The Civil Code also includes the provision that someone affected by domestic violence can apply to the court for a protection order banning the abuser from returning to the family home.[19] In the past, women have been very reluctant to report domestic violence, but Amnesty International reports that this is changing, particularly in urban areas with more women coming forward to report abuse (although some are then pressured into retracting their claims).[20] 990 cases were reported in the first nine months of 2009, according to official figures.[21] Cases are generally only prosecuted when they result in death, severe injury, or are accompanied by threats to life.[22] Despite the provisions included in the Civil Code outlined above, the authorities are not active in challenging domestic violence or providing support to victims.[23] For instance, even where protection orders are granted, they are often not adequately enforced.[24] This gap is filled by women’s rights NGOs, who run help lines and four shelters for women affected by domestic violence.[25] A large minority of women appear to accept domestic violence as part of marriage: in the 2008-9 DHS, 29.8% of women agreed with at least one out of a list of five ‘reasons’ for a man to justifiably beat his wife.[26] In part, this is due to the fact that many communities, especially in the northeast, are still governed by the customary Kanun code that establishes the superiority of men over women.[27] 

Rape, including spousal rape, is criminalised under the Penal Code, and carries a prison sentence of between three and 15 years, depending on the age of the victim.[28] In practice, the concept of spousal rape is not considered to be a crime by the authorities or the public, meaning that few cases are reported or prosecuted.[29]  Overall, rape cases are apparently only pursued when there is evidence that the woman physically resisted.[30] Sexual harassment is illegal, but cases are seldom prosecuted.[31] A very real fear of kidnapping is cited by the 2010 report to the CEDAW committee as one of the reasons parents are reluctant to send older girls to school in rural areas.[32]

Even though it was formally criminalised in 2001, trafficking in persons is a serious problem in Albania, which is recognised as a source country for trafficked women and children.[33] Women and girls are trafficked for purposes of forced prostitution, while male and female children are trafficked to work as forced beggars.[34] Children left behind with relatives or friends when their parents migrate abroad to look for work are particularly at risk of being trafficked.[35] There is a National Strategy on the Fight against Trafficking in Human Beings in place, and many different government units and agencies detailed with addressing the issue,[36] but state action on the matter has so far been slow and inconsistent.[37] There is evidence that this is changing, however, in particular as the country seeks to fulfil its obligations regarding trafficking under the Stabilisation and Association Agreement that it has signed as a prerequisite for joining the EU.[38] There are four shelters for victims of trafficking, all run by NGOs (with no financial support from the government).[39]  Women are reluctant to report being trafficked for fear of reprisals by their traffickers, or because their families may pressure them into retracting claims.[40]  In addition, support to victims of trafficking is poor,[41] with victims are often arrested, treated like criminals, and accused of prostitution (which is a criminal offence[42]) and illegal entry into the territory.

There is no evidence to suggest that female genital mutilation is practiced in Albania.

Women in Albania have the right to use contraception, and contraception is provided free of charge at government-run family planning clinics.[43][48] Knowledge of contraception is extremely high – 98.6% of women could name at least one method – and 48% of sexually active women aged 15-49 reported currently using contraception of some form (although this included so-called ‘traditional’ methods).[44] Provision of health services, including for reproductive health, is limited and of poor quality in some remoter rural areas.[45] In addition, women may be reluctant to use local reproductive health services, for fear that service providers will not respect their right to confidentiality.[46] According to the 2010 CEDAW report, some NGOs have reported that women have to obtain the permission of their husband or mother-in-law before they can go to a family planning clinic to access reproductive health services.[47] Abortion is available on demand in Albania.

[18] Amnesty International (2010), p.82; CEDAW (2010), p.12-13 [19] CEDAW (2010), p.30 [20] Amnesty International (2010), p.82 [21] Amnesty International (2010), p.82 [22] Amnesty International (2010), p.82 [23] US Department of State (2010a) [24] GADC (2010), p.25 [25] US Department of State (2010a) [26] Institute of Statistics, Institute of Public Health [Albania] and ICF Macro (2010), p.280 [27] CEDAW (2010), p.27 [28] US Department of State (2010a) [29] US Department of State (2010a); ACPAR (2010), p.15 [30] ACPAR (2010), p.15 [31] US Department of State (2010a) [32] CEDAW (2010), p.106 [33] Amnesty International (2010), p.82; US Department of State (2010b) [34] US Department of State (2010a) [35] UNICEF (2007), p.47 [36] CEDAW (2010), pp.38-40 [37] US Department of State (2010a); GADC (2010), p.11 [38] CEDAW (2010), p.35; US Department of State (2010b) [39] US Department of State (2010a); CEDAW (2010), p.42 [40] Amnesty International (2010), p.82 [41] US Department of State (2010b) [42] CEDAW (2010), p.36 [43] Institute of Statistics, Institute of Public Health [Albania] and ICF Macro (2010), p.63; CEDAW (2010), pp.80, 86 [44] Institute of Statistics, Institute of Public Health [Albania] and ICF Macro (2010), pp.64, 69 [45] US Department of State (2010a) [46] CEDAW (2010), p.87 [47] CEDAW (2010), p.105 [48] UNDP (2007)

Son Bias: 

Sex selective abortion is specifically banned under the 2002 law ‘On reproductive health’.[49] Infant and under-five mortality rates are higher for boys than for girls, as are malnutrition rates.[50] Vaccination rates for girls and boys are very high, and virtually the same (95.2% for boys and 95.1% for girls).[51] According to the 2008-9 DHS, net primary school attendance rates for girls and boys are virtually the same – 94.9% for girls and 95.4% for boys.[52] There is also not significant discrepancy between male and female secondary school attendance rates – 57.3% (boys) and 55% (girls).[53] However, only 12% of women aged 20-24 had completed secondary school, compared to 23.5% of men in the same age-bracket.[54] While schooling is officially free, parents have to pay for uniforms, text books, and sometimes heating for the school; such costs are sometimes cited as a reason not to send older girls to school, who are deemed to be of more use working at home.[55] Son preference seems to be pronounced in regard to access to secondary education, but not in regard to early childhood care, or access to primary education.

The male/female sex ratio for the total population in 2012 is 0.98. [56] Analysis of sex ratios across age groups indicates that Albania is a country of concern in relation to missing women, although juvenile sex ratios have fallen in recent years, indicating that there is improvement.

[49] CEDAW (2010), p.81 [50] Institute of Statistics, Institute of Public Health [Albania] and ICF Macro (2010), pp.118, [51] Institute of Statistics, Institute of Public Health [Albania] and ICF Macro (2010), p.139 [52] Institute of Statistics, Institute of Public Health [Albania] and ICF Macro (2010), p.24 [53] Institute of Statistics, Institute of Public Health [Albania] and ICF Macro (2010), 24. Official government figures were much higher (see US Department of State, 2010). [54] Institute of Statistics, Institute of Public Health [Albania] and ICF Macro (2010), pp.22-23. See also CEDAW (2010), pp.64-65 [55] US Department of State (2010a) [56] Central Intelligence Agency (2012)

Restricted Resources and Entitlements: 

Under the country’s Civil Code, Women in Albania have the same rights of ownership as men.[57] But in practice, after marriage, it is rare for Albanian women to have access to land, as land belonging to a couple can only be registered in the name of the household head, usually the husband.[58] Rural women attest to the fact that men rule the majority of households and are typically the official owners of the household land, often disposing of or renting out such land without their wives’ consent.[59]  Even when women do legally own land, it is often considered to belong to the whole family, and they are not considered to have the right to administer it.[60] Many women have difficulty exercising their right to access to property other than land, even though the right to private property is guaranteed by both the Constitution and the Civil Code.[61]

There are no legal restrictions on Albanian women’s right to access credit from commercial banks, but in practice, bank loans require capital that women do not have, and husbands and male relatives who do own property are usually reluctant to support loan applications on behalf of their wives or female relatives.[62] As a result, women are rarely able to establish their own businesses.[63] A government programme is in place to encourage more women to join – and lead – agricultural cooperatives, and to provide easier access to credit for women in rural areas.[64]

[57] US Department of State (2010a) [58] CEDAW (2010), p.99; FAO et al (2004), p.56 [59] CEDAW (2010), p.108; GADC (2010), p.19 [60] CEDAW (2010), p.108 [61] CEDAW (2010), p.108 [62] CEDAW (2010), p.99; GADC (2010), p.19 [63] CEDAW (2010), p.99 [64] CEDAW (2010), p.103

Restricted Civil Liberties: 

There are no legal restrictions on women’s freedom of movement in Albania, either within the country or abroad.[65] But in reality, freedom of movement is restricted by the expectation that a married woman will move to live with her husband’s family.[66] In addition, women may have to seek permission from their husbands or family before travelling within Albania or abroad.[67] For some women, freedom of movement on a day-to-day basis is restricted, with 14.9% reporting that their husband/partner took the final decision as to whether their wife could go and visit her family members.[68] In addition, the internal registration system (whereby people can only gain access to government-provided social services in the district where they are registered) effectively limits freedom of movement for all Albanian citizens.[69] 

Freedom of expression is protected under the Albanian Constitution, but in practice, pressure from powerful political and business interests makes it difficult for independent media outlets to thrive.[70] The media in Albania do little to challenge stereotypes regarding gender roles, and in fact, serve instead to reinforce them.[71]

Freedom of assembly and association is generally respected, although during the election campaign in 2009, police were used to obstruct an opposition rally.[72]

Under the Albanian Constitution, women have equal rights to vote and to stand for election.[73] However the 2010 CEDAW report notes that in some rural areas, members of a family will often vote for the same candidate, chosen by the (male) head of household.[74] The 2008 Gender Equality Law includes the provision that 30% of all government appointed positions and of party lists at election time should be reserved for women.[75] This has resulted in an increase in the number of women in the country’s parliament from 10 in 2005 to 23 in 2009, out of a 140 (16.43%).[76] But there is still considerable societal resistance to women assuming positions of political power.[77] According to a survey conducted in 2002, over a third of Albanian women believed that men make better political leaders than women.[78] It is easier for women to gain positions of leadership in civil society, and women’s rights organisations are very active in Albania.[79] They have been involved in campaigning for revision to the Family Code (which resulted in the successful adoption of a new Family Code in 2003, as detailed above), revisions to the Civil Code to address domestic violence, and for the new Gender Equality Law and anti-discrimination legislation, as well as providing services to women affected by violence, trafficking, and other violations of their rights.[80]

In Albania, pregnant women are entitled to up to a year’s paid maternity leave, and it is illegal to dismiss a woman from employment while she is on maternity leave.[81] Discrimination on the grounds of gender in employment is prohibited.[82] Many women lost their jobs when the socialist regime collapsed, and female unemployment remains high.[83] 30% of women aged 15-49 questioned in the 2008-9 DHS considered themselves to be employed, mainly in professional, technical or managerial roles (25.8%) or in agriculture (34.6%).[84] Addressing the high level of unemployment among women is considered by the government of Albania to be an important priority.[85]

[65] CEDAW (2010), pp.57, 110 [66] CEDAW (2010), p.108 [67] CEDAW (2010), pp.57, 112 [68] Institute of Statistics, Institute of Public Health [Albania] and ICF Macro (2010), p.276. See also CEDAW (2010), p.112 [69] US Department of State (2010a) [70] Freedom House (2010); US Department of State (2010a) [71] CEDAW (2010), p.25 [72] US Department of State (2010a) [73] CEDAW (2010), p.48 [74] CEDAW (2010), p.51 [75] Government of Albania / United Nations (2010), p.18 [76] Freedom House (2010); Inter-Parliamentary Union (n.d.) [77] CEDAW (2010), p.51 [78] UNICEF (2007), p.8, referencing data from the World Values Survey 2002 [79] Freedom House (2010); CEDAW (2010), p.49, 54 [80] CEDAW (2010), pp.12, 29, 54 [81] ILO (2009); CEDAW (2010), p.79 [82] US Department of State (2010a); CEDAW (2010), pp.11, 67-69 [83] GADC (2010), p.45 [84] Institute of Statistics, Institute of Public Health [Albania] and ICF Macro (2010), p.45 [85] CEDAW (2010), p.72 [86] ILGA (n.d.) [87] Freedom House (2010)


Formerly a socialist country that experienced a long period of political isolation in the 1970s and 1980s,[88]    economic reforms were introduced in the late 1980s and multi-party elections were held for the first time in 1992.[89] Albania remains one of the poorest countries in Europe, where transition to a market economy has not brought prosperity for the majority of the population.[90] Significant challenges remain, in the form of poverty and unemployment, corruption, dilapidated physical infrastructure, and the influence of powerful organised crime networks.[91] In 2009, Albania became a full member of NATO and applied to join the European Union.[92] Islam is the majority religion, followed by 70% of the population, although there are sizeable Albanian Orthodox (20%) and Roman Catholic (10%) minorities.[93] Albania is classified classed by the World Bank as an upper-middle income country.[94]    

Albanian society remains extremely conservative and patriarchal, particularly in rural areas. Women are expected to obey their husbands and male relatives and accept the role of dutiful wife and mother, and this places many de facto restrictions on their rights to participate in public life, and to enjoy their full human rights.[95] In addition, Albanian women have borne the brunt of the social and economic upheavals that have occurred in Albania since the end of the communist regime in the early 1990s, in the form of increased levels of violence against women, female unemployment and poverty, the closing of state-provided childcare facilities, and the revival of discriminatory cultural practices that had been suppressed during the communist period.[96]

Article 18 of the Albanian Constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender.[97] Albania ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1994, and the Optional Protocol on violence against women in 2004.[98] The country is a member of the Council of Europe and ratified the European Convention on Human Rights in 1996.[99] Legislation makes provisions for treaties to supersede national law and the parliament.[100] In 2008, a Gender Equality Law was passed, and more recently, legislation has been introduced banning discrimination on a wide range of social characteristics.[101] There is also a National Strategy for Gender Equality and against Domestic Violence in place.[102] 

[88] Institute of Statistics, Institute of Public Health [Albania] and ICF Macro (2010), p.2; Freedom House (2010) [89] Institute of Statistics, Institute of Public Health [Albania] and ICF Macro (2010), p.2 [90] CIA (2010); Institute of Statistics, Institute of Public Health [Albania] and ICF Macro (2010), p.4[91] CIA (2010) [92] Amnesty International (2010), p.82 [93] CIA (2010) [94] World Bank (n.d.) [95] CEDAW (2010), pp.25, 29; GADC (2010), p.56 [96] CEDAW (2010), pp.69, 103, 104; GADC (2010), p. [97] CEDAW (2010), p.8 [98] United Nations Treaty Collection (2010n.d) [99] Council of Europe (n.d.) [100] CEDAW (2010), p.5 [101] Government of Albania / United Nations (2010), p.16; ILGA (n.d.) [102] Government of Albania / United Nations (2010), p.19 


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Discrim. Fam. Code Rank 2012: 
Discrim. Fam. Code Value 2012: 
Legal Age of Marriage: 
Early Marriage: 
Parental Authority: 
Rest. Phys. Integrity Rank 2012: 
Rest. Phys. Integrity Value 2012: 
Violence Against Women (laws): 
Female Genital Mutilation: 
Reproductive Integrity: 
Attitudes Towards Domestic Violence: 
Prevalance Of Domestic Violence: 
Son Bias Rank 2012: 
Son Bias Value 2012: 
Missing Women: 
Fertility Preferences: 
Rest. Resources & Ent. Rank 2012: 
Rest. Resources & Ent. Value 2012: 
Access To Land: 
Access To Property Other Than Land: 
Access To Bank Loans And Credit: 
Rest. Civil Liberties Rank 2012: 
Rest. Civil Liberties Value 2012: 
Access To Public Space: 
Political Participation: 
Political Quotas: