Women need a seat at the political table and IRI’s Women’s Democracy Network (WDN) helps make that happen. To increase women’s participation in the political process WDN develops the leadership skills of women and strengthens the ability of women to compete in elections.
This is where “Ask a Woman to Run” comes in. I traveled to Albania to preview WDN’s “Ask a Woman to Run” campaign curriculum (read more about my trip HERE) and I sat down with Dejana, a young city council woman in Tirana, Albania.
Name: Dejana Kallogjerovic
Current Position: City Council Member
What is leading you to run for elected office?
Before I got into politics, I used to be active in society. I see politics as a way to get into the system and change it. I feel like my party is a place my voice can be heard- I saw an opportunity for the support of women especially young women, and it was a priority. The first time I stepped into office, the priorities to work hard every day and give hope to my peers and generations to come.
I could have been like all of my peers around who are trying in every possible way to leave Albania and I have thought many times to study abroad, but I chose another path. I decided to use up my energy and ideas in Albania to make a change here. Everyone can make a difference; we just have to believe that we can. At the moment, I am the member of the city council in Tirana, and I am the youngest one. I worked for my voice and the voice of others to be heard.
It is hard being a women and young, although I believe we are the ones changing that. I see the office as an instrument to work harder and on a larger scale, and I am convinced Parliament needs more young women since we are the ones with the strongest ideas, the ones who are planning a life here and want to make this place better for families and the future.
Has your family supported you?
When I first got involved, my family was very skeptical. They were very skeptical on how politics work in Albania but when they saw the significant changes that I was making and trying to work out, they are now my biggest supporters.
Do you have the support of other women?
I am happy to say YES! There are a lot of women in Albania who are raising each other up. This is the model we need to promote more in solidarity and cooperation.
Who are your role models?
There are two women. One is Monika Kryemadhi, who is one of the first women in Parliament in Albania. She is the description of inspiration and solidarity. She has fought all her life to give women chances in politics and their voices to be heard. She has been a great support for Katie and me. Well, Katie is part of the office, and she is a deputy, and she has been the youngest deputy since she joined the parliament when she was 20 years old. She is one the first people I met when I join my political party. She inspired to work on the things I love most and we can make a huge difference if we work together on all things.
Can you talk about your vision for women in Albania?
Our Party has worked hard for the participation of women in every decision-making position. We have encouraged other parties also to apply the 50 percent (women) quotas. I am proud to say that my party has 50 percent participation. Also, we have added 30 percent participation in youth forums. Personally, I don’t believe in quotas. Every woman deserves to be on the list and contribute. But quotas are a temporary solution until the participation of women in politics and decision making roles are standard.
What are your goals in the coming year?
I haven’t planned anything. I am seeing how everything is going with the elections because the political situation is difficult. At the moment, I am worried about the stability of Albania. But I am pretty sure I will be doing the same thing if I am in the office or not.