Recent developments on Social Inclusion, Social Protection, Gender Equality and Youth policies in Albania.
In framework of our collaboration with CoE and exchanging good practices between the member states , Albania is presenting to CCDECS this report on recent developments.
A lot of Strategic documents, policies papers and action plans on social protection, social inclusion, gender equality and youth, are drafted in accordance with the CoE policies and especially with the field cover by CDDECS, during the years 2014-2015. These documents are also consulted with independent national human rights institutions, operating in Albania, such as the Ombudsman, Commissioner for Protection from Discrimination and other actors as civil society.
Social policies in Albania has in their focus the promotion of social inclusion in all the sectors where there are identified major problems of lack of access and coverage gaps in public services.
Social inclusion actions in Albania have been targeting the empowerment of vulnerable groups in Albania and overall the reduction of poverty. Lessons learned from the Strategy on Social Inclusion 2007-2013, prepared the background for a finalized Policy Document on Social Inlcusion 2015-2020. These documents target the most vulnerable groups with access to employment and labor markets; access to education system; access to health services; access to social housing; access to legal aid.
Implementation of social inclusion policies is based on inter-institutional cooperation; inter-ministerial approach with coordination of institutional responsibilities. The policies and indicators depend on overall government objectives and the action plan depends on sufficient budgeting and timeframes. The objectives of the new policy document will improve the social status of vulnerable groups, in educational issues, in health, in housing, and access to justice employment
The Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth is working on drafting some action plans on target groups like: Roma and Egyptians, LGBT persons, People with Disabilities , Children, in order to have concrete specific measures and activities in each area, focusing and addressing the recommendations in coherence with new Policy Document of Social Inclusion 2015-2020.
The Roma and Egyptian Action plan, which has been already completed and work is done for the issues concerning Roma, such as housing specifically, education, employment and all strategic priorities included in the plan.
On disability will soon be drafted a new action plan. Law Nr. 93/2014 "For inclusion and accessibility for Persons with Disabilities", a recent legal act, is in line with the UN Convention on Rights of People with Disability and with the Council of Europe Action Plan to promote the rights and full participation of people with disabilities in society: improving the quality of their life.
A new Decision of Council of Ministers presets the modalities for the organization and coordination of the National Council on Disability.
Considering the implementation of sign language the background preparation work has been done for the implementation of DCM 837, dates 03.12. 2014 “On the Recognition of Sign Language in the Republic of Albania”.
Recently MSWY and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, in cooperation with the General Directorate of the Police, central and local institutions and several NGOs launched the “Help for disadvantaged families and street children” initiative. The latter aims to protect children from all forms of abuse, exploitation and neglect, through a coordinated cross-sectoral intervention, and a comprehensive integrated approach. This relied on the first national study on street children. The resulting data will serve policy makers while tackling issues of street children.
The structure of the new Policy Document for Social Inclusion is based on European Commission approach dealing with access to services. This will address causes of social exclusion which are related to the lack of access to public services. Our vision for an inclusive society is to enable all Albanian citizens to have unrestricted access to high quality public services in order to facilitate and support their active participation in society regardless of income level, gender, age, disability, ethnic origin, sexual orientation and identity, place of residence or religious convictions.
Key areas include education, quality care for children, health care, training, job search assistance and rehabilitation Social inclusion policies aim to guarantee all citizens access to quality public services.
Roma and Egyptians Policies.
In order to address the needs and situation of Roma and Egyptian communities, in September 2014, the Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth, in co-operation with other line ministries, local government, representatives of Roma and Egyptians and other civil society organizations, initiated the development of the National Action Plan for Integration of Roma and Egyptians, covering the period of 2015-2020. The Action Plan will be implemented within the framework of the Policy Document on Social Inclusion. On a higher level, the Action Plan falls under the National Strategy for Development and Integration which is in the process of revision.
Through this action plan the government has launched six priority sectors, namely: civil registration, education and promoting intercultural dialogue, employment and vocational education and training (VET), healthcare, housing and urban integration, and social protection.
The methodology for Action Plan development consisted of:
Concurrently, the Ministry of Urban Development is developing a Strategy for Social Housing which is expected to address housing issues of Roma and Egyptian communities.
In the frame of EU Social Inclusion Strategy 2015-2020 and Priority 5, the Government of Albania has undertaken three major reforms in the Social Protection area: (i) the reform of economic assistance which is being piloted in three regions of the country (ii) reforming the disability assessment system, both within Loan for the project with World Bank "Modernization of Social Assistance in Albania", (iii) the reform of social services with the expertise of UNICEF and financing of Swiss Cooperation.
Activities and measures undertaken in the framework of the reform:
Social Protection Strategy 2015-2020
Vision: Building a social protection system to combat socio-economic inequalities, the forecast of a system that has policies and mechanisms to protect all individuals in need or excluded through prevention programs and social reintegration alternated with employment schemes.
1. By 2020, will be affected in alleviating and reducing poverty.
2. By 2020, every child and / or adult with disabilities will have access and benefit from the necessary integrated social services and through schemes of Social Protection Program.
3. By 2020, every child and Albanian families will have equal access and benefit from a functional and inclusive social care services based on the principle of decentralization, de-institutionalization and diversification of social services.
The Strategy will seek to build the independence and autonomy of individuals and to build support for families and communities which can provide better and more appropriate support for persons and families affected by poverty. MSWY will seek to ensure that cash and social care services do not undermine autonomy and, insofar as possible, support family and household solidarity.
The Action plan on the Strategy of Social Protection 2015-2020 is drafted with the support of local experts and throw an open consultation processes with partners, donors, civil society. The necessary budget (calculated from the experts) for the implementation of the action plan with be approved by the Council of Minister by July 2015.
Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth, based on Law No. 84/2012 dated 18.9.2012, approved by the Albanian Parliament "On the ratification of agreement between by Albania and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) for financing the project of modernization of social assistance", has undertaken the major reform of the Ndihma Ekonomike (economic aid) program.
This reform aims to increase the efficiency and equity of the NE scheme through better targeting and wider coverage of households and categories in need, developing the national registry/MIS to administer the NE and introducing improved eligibility criteria using Scoring Formula for NE with objective weights and variables, replacing exclusionary binary. The automated MIS is now being used to process registration of applicants for the NE program, beneficiary selection, program enrolment, and payment orders. This new scheme is being piloting in three regions; Tirana, Durres and Elbasan. Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth is also drafting the policy paper on Social Re-Integration Program.
Based on the World Bank project "Modernization of Social Assistance in Albania" MSWY has undertaken the reform of the disability assessment system based on the international standards, shifting from the medical assessment model to a bio-psycho-social one, by reflecting a new concept of disability. It has been drafted a policy paper on disability that analyzes the assessment process and benefits as well as anticipated changes, explaining their rational core in the context of international experience as well as expected improvements. This process will continue further with the establishment of a digitalized system and the establishment of relevant structures.
Regarding the decentralization process of social services the MSWY during his work has followed with priority the recent developments of Territorial Reform Strategy Development.
The MSWY in collaboration and support of different actors, donors and civil society has design an integrated social service system at the decentralized level, making sure that a comprehensive reform of the social care sector takes place, to fulfil the social and economic rights of Albanian citizens in need of social protection and support, in compliance with the international human rights standards and the normative principles of the European Community. The proposed interventions are built on the premises that a comprehensive systems approach requires simultaneous attention to the different categories of human rights, high level strategic reforms, and functional social care services with clearly defined accountability at the local level. It is meant to improve the efficiency of the social protection system and the quality of social services for vulnerable families and communities, including children.
MSWY, Unicef, Swiss Cooperation, through open consultation processes, have been drafted:
In the context of increasing the quality of social care services provided by professionals, was recently adopted the Law no. 163/2014 dated 04.12.2014 for the “Order of Social Workers in the Republic of Albania” and drafted the Law “Order for the psychologist in the Republic of Albania” and will be soon approved by the Council of Ministers.
Efforts to further consolidation of the de-institutionalization process.
The process of De-institutionalization followed by the Department of Social Care and Integrate Services, with the support of UNICEF, conducted an analysis (Stock & Flow) of the situation in residential care institutions for children and is concluded with a Road Map (3 years) such as concrete action plan with measures that the Government should undertake to achieve the objective in order that in 2020 no more children live in institutions. The action plan of De-institutionalization will be part of the Social Protection Strategy 2015-2020 approved by the Council of Minister decision.
The possible collaboration and financial support from the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB) ,will help to complete the process of de-institutionalization. The main component of de-institutionalization are the investments on infrastructure, about opening day centers for children and persons with disabilities, residential centers for the elderly and capacity building.
Albania through MSWY has taken measures to implement the project "Innovative social services for vulnerable groups: standards for decentralization", which envisages the establishment of new services in residential centers for people with disabilities, children without parental care and the elderly.
Drafting and adoption of standards, procedures and guidelines at national level for the management of social services for disadvantaged categories. Promotion, organization and evaluation of voluntary service to disengaged groups.
Albania, through the implementation of The Strategy on the Fight Against Trafficking in Human Beings and its Action Plan 2014-2017 and Council of Ministers Decision No. 814 dated 20.11.2014 adopted ,is focused on prevention, protection and reintegration of victims of trafficking.
MSWY through the PBA (state budget), has provided financial support to four shelters (one state shelter and three NGO shelters), which are offering residential social care services for victims of trafficking.
Albania, has an active structure on anti-trafficking like the National Anti-trafficking Coordinator , National Task Force on Trafficking in Persons, Regional Anti-trafficking Committees and the National Referral Mechanism (NRM).
The main achievements regarding the issues of gender equality and for the reduction of gender-based and domestic violence in Albania, during the year 2014, are as follows:
1. Improvement of economic situation/position of woman and family, through:
a) The specific measures for transferring the right of economic aid’ withdrawal, exclusively to women. With Council of Ministers’ Decision No.375, dated 11.06.2014 "On some amendments to DCM no. 904" it is foreseen the right of the wife to withdrawal and take delivery of economic aid, and there are made the appropriate changes in the application form. This measure of increasing women's access to financial resources, by providing to her the right of economic aid’ withdrawal, is based on situation’ assessment as well as on numerous practical examples which testified a miscarriage of economic aid when it has been withdrew only from the spouse – in many cases the money were spend only by the person who has had access and right to withdrew them, and without taking into consideration and/or fulfilling any needs of his family members (children and wife).
b) The specific measures to support women entrepreneurs. "The Action Plan to support woman’s entrepreneurship (2014-2020)" is approved by DCM No.339, dated 06.19.2014, whereas by DCM No.592 dated 09.10.2014 it is created “the fund to support women entrepreneurs”, with an overall value of 26,500,000 ALL, for an implementation period of 4 years.
c) The measure of promoting women's development initiatives in rural areas. The adaption of Order No.4 / 2014 "On the procedures and administration of the program for agriculture and rural development’ fund", suggests scoring system under which competitive criteria, in 15 out of 21 of schemes is defined the classification with 5 more points, if the applicants will be women farmers.
2. Application of the principle of gender equality in the selection criteria during the bidding procedures for public administration employees. With the approval of Decision No. 143/2014 "On procedures of recruitment, selection, probationary period, parallel movement and promotion for civil servants of the executive, low and middle managers categories", at the point 13, Chapter IV "Competition " is determined the order of candidates with equal points, as follows: a) the first one, if one of the candidates is included to the persons with disabilities category; b) if they are different sexes the first is selected who is less represented gender; c) The above alternatives cannot be applied to lot.
3. Application of concrete measures for education, vocational training and health care, such as:
a) Promotion of vocational and professional training of young women by providing free training to unemployed girls under 25 years old.
b) Promotion of education and health care for children, through the adoption of DCM no.376, dated 11.06.2014 "On some amendments to the Decision No. 787" regarding the addition for education and vaccination for all beneficiaries in non-pilot areas, which provides an additional benefit in the amount of economic aid to enable 100% the vaccination and education of children.
3. Progress in gender budgeting issues. In application of DCM no. 465/2012 "Gender mainstreaming in the mid-term budgeting program", it is followed step by step the introduction of gender budgeting in some of the processes of drafting the medium-term budgetary programs of key ministries, which has resulted in positive changes in some programs of eight ministries.
4. Strengthening of measures against gender discrimination, gender-based and domestic violence, through:
a) Focusing on the groups of women who suffer multiple discrimination (women with disabilities, Roma and Egyptian women etc.) by planning or improving needed services for them.
b) The establishment and operation of the electronic data base system for registration and management of domestic violence’ cases.
c) The improvement of standards of services for victims / survivors of domestic violence. The Approval of the DCM no. 839, dated 03.12.2014 "On some amendments to Decision no. 425, dated 27.06.2012 "For the criteria and necessary documentation for admission of persons in public and private residential institutions of social care", has led to the removal of some restrictions relating to the availability of EPO / PO as one of the documents needed to approve the sheltering at National Rehabilitation Center for victims of domestic violence.
5. Completion in time and with the responsibility of reporting obligations regarding the implementation of main international instruments on women’s rights and gender equality through: The submission of the Report on the Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action + 20, the submission of Fourth (IV) National Periodic Report for the Implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (2010-2014), etc.
6. Women Political representation
Albanian legislation: Law N.9970, date 24.07.2008 “For Gender Equality in society” and Article No. 67 of Electoral Code provides 30% quota for the under representative gender.
With recent changes to the Electoral Code, proposed by the Alliance of Women Caucus provides: "For elections to local government bodies, for each municipality council, one in every two consecutive names in the ranking must belong to the same gender"
UN Women is supporting the MSWY and INSTAT to establish the protocol on the gender statistics based on the law on official statistics drafts a statistical program and on the Harmonized set of Indicators of Gender Equality.
INSTAT produces two kinds of statistics. The first it deals with what is collected by the line ministries and statistical offices; this is called administrative data. The second kind deals with data produced by data produced through different surveys, mainly undertaken through cooperation between INSTAT and international organizations.
Albanian administrative data lack sex-disaggregated data and INSTAT to reflect this need on the preparation of new statistical program this year, which will be adopt by the Parliament during 2016.
In this framework, UN Women is working closely with MSWY in order to establish standards and formats of sex-disaggregated data on each of institution of data gathering. These standards on the regularity and periodicity of data collection divided by sex it will be in line with the monitoring implementation of gender equality and elimination of violence against women commitments under the NSGE-GBV&DV (2011-2015) and other sectorial and cross-cutting strategies as well as international GE/HR commitments and reporting obligations.
National Youth Service
CoMD no. 377, dated 11.06.2014 approved the establishment of the National Youth Service as a budgetary structure under the Ministry responsible for the implementation of youth policies and it will function through 12 Regional Youth Centers. Youth Regional Centers are planned to operate in every region of the country during the period 2014-2017 as direct units providing services to young people.
Approvial of the National Action Plan on Youth 2015 -2020.
During the year 2014, MSWY organised a series of consulting meetings in the 12 regions of Albania, with the aim to include interest groups (students and representatives of civil society) in the consultation process of drafting the National Action Plan for Youth. This national plan will include the objectives of the Albanian government regarding youth and the concrete measure which will be undertaken by the Ministries responsible for youth. The goal of the National Action Plan is to create more opportunities in education, employment, culture, health and full participation of young people in society and decision making.
The National Action Plan on youth approved by a Decision of the Council of Ministers No. 383, dated 06.05.2015 contains six (6) general objectives and twenty-nine (29) specific objectives, including indicators to monitor and evaluate and the detailed costs for each activity.
Creation of Youth Portal “Rini.al”
The Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth with the aim to improve communication in the sector of youth as well as better exchange of information from and for youth created the web-site Rini.al. This portal serves as an online communication space for youth organizations and young people. Part of the website content is generated by youth organizations or individuals who can post information about their work and activities. The website also generates content on scholarship opportunities for young people, trainings and work-shops for individuals and youth organizations as well as cultural and social events happening in the region.
Regional Youth Centers in Albania
In the framework of the functioning of the National Youth Service, in March 2015, there are established some Regional Youth Centers in Albanian territory. Youth Centers will organize social cultural,sports activities and will improve the social voluntary works, in accordance with Albanian National Plan on Youth.
 From MSWY with support of UN Women
 Details are presented in in the Chapter 1 of the Monitoring Report