Greetings everyone.While I regretus having to hold thisbeautiful communication at a distance, it still remains an extraordinary event for which the hosts deserve gratitude and admiration!
Leadership, woman, world, competition are words that stand on a common ground, that of century-long battles to attain most ofwhatour grandmothers and great grandmothers could not even imagine to be within reach, but also that of the future challenges that are the battles of today.
In this remarkableendeavour that goes on, Covid-19 will triggerfor long our memory and reflectionsas thetime that most prominently showed the power of women in the world of labour.Many are those heroic women who during this pandemic have been working in hospitals and healthcare centres, who care for and vaccinate innumerable people each day, who work to manufacture vaccines and other medicine, who study, research and comment at the forefront of this war, enlightening the path ahead of us. A brilliant example of that isBioNTech co-founder, Madam Ozlem Tureci, to whom the entire world is indebted for saving millions of lives. But there is also an army of teachers out there who under new and utterly challenging conditions have managedwith admirable dedicationto keep the stream of knowledge flowing for our children. Even more numerous are the women who for longer than a year now keep the work chain rollingin the face ofthe chain of infections that defies us daily, threatening the very continuity of our livelihood! These are the women fighting in the times of Covid, an army of heroes the world will always remember.
One of the things that struck me from this invitation was also the audience – hundreds of well-educated girls and women with academic titles and degrees from 45 world countries and equally as many representatives from civic activism.Allow me to extend to each and everyone of you the expression of my admiration and respect for who you are, what you do and radiate around you, making the world a better place thanks to your presence and contribution!
I come from a Muslim family. I am married to Edi, who is Catholic. Our two children from previous marriages are Christian Orthodox and the third, our six-year-old boy, will decide for himself the religion he will belong to, should he wish to make such choiceone day. This is as a matterof fact Albania, the country of inter-faith harmony, which we, Albanians, take pride in. This is why at home we have the sacred books of Bible and Koran, where one will read the same commandment that whoever saves a life, has saved the entire mankind! Destiny led us to see not one, but an entire army of people striving to save mankind, with women at its forefront!
I am an economist, but that is not the prevailing instinct in me.There is a much powerful instinct that lies inside,the instinct of the mother and the woman whose interests reach beyond herself and family to matters of public interest, and the constant urge to find ways of being useful therein. In my view, the model of a professionally successful woman is very important, but never sufficient. In that frontline battle with Covid to save lives, the first to prevail is the instinct of the mother, daughter and woman that comes before the professionalism of medical doctors, nurses, orderlies, teachers, entrepreneurs, scientists.In this gruelling fight, that is the instinct that keeps them going,and does not let them give in, give up.
As we speak, Albaniais avant garde in terms of its gender representation track record, scoring9 points above the European average when it comes to women involvement in the highest levels of public decision-making. It matches the European average regarding the ratio of women in parliament.It has more women than men working in the Government, a public administration with 60% women,and women who areat the helm of justice institutions, judges and prosecutors and, certainly, an increasing number of successful role models of women in business or at the top of private management.However, while cherishing of women climbing their way to the top of the public and private decision-making realm, there are tens of thousands of other women who expect to seeat the pinnacle of power an activist, not a bureaucrat. Just like with the heroic women fighting the pandemic, they expect that these women sitting at the top of power or at the highest throne of professionalism and entrepreneurship find prevailing within the instinct of the mother and woman, who in a competitive world fights for justice, rejects aggressiveness, condemns violence, blazes the trailof opportunities for others, heals wounds, reaches out, inspires, motivates, and gives unwavering support.We are right to feel good and hopeful today as we see more women ministers, judges, prosecutors, managers, top administrators and entrepreneurs. Alas, such presence will only remain another statisticthat time will cast into oblivion, unless it is made into a mission to influence the pending solutions to the issues facing thousands of women and girls, who go through violence, sexual harassment in the workplace or public spaces, who face prejudice that keeps them from pursuing their passions,poor working conditions, lack of education and employment, poverty.Women will fully succeed, only when above any power lies the power of values and profound human feelings.
So, dear girls and women, economists, lawyers, medical doctors, engineers, experts of all fields, I am confident that when tomorrow you will strive for your own success and persevere, you will be faced with challenges that are not easy. You will climb the highest peaks in your careeras a reward to your labours and the support given to you by your families. But remember that the sacrifices of generations require that in all your efforts you first invoke the instinct of the mother and the woman who would give the post-pandemic world her modesty, self-restraint, self-control, departing from self-centeredness and vanity,offering her discipline, generosity and the feeling of community, all values that the Koran urges you to pursue, “so that you may be successful” (Surat An-Nur, 24: 31).
The post-pandemic world will be a place in need of more communication, a better balance of the challenges, heightened attention to the plethora of problems, enhanced social responsibility for those who are vulnerable, more affection, more kindness, more sensitivity towards the environment, and, clearly, less greed and confrontationto secure power. You understand better than anyone the value of this ayah in the Koran: “And do not crave what Allah has given some of you over others. Men will be rewarded according to their deeds and women ˹equally˺ according to theirs.” (Surat An-Nisa’, 4: 32).
There is a myth as old as the world that war is a men’s game.The army of women in the forefront of the battle with Covid, testified that women are strong fighters, and always victorious.I wish success to every and each one of you!
P.s. Opening speech at the Summit “Female Leadership in a highly competitive world in the post -covid era” organized by ICYF as a side event of the UN ECOSOC Youth Forum 2021.