CEDAW has once more exposed the deep discrimination and inequalities faced by Roma and Egyptian women in Albania. The Committee’s concluding observations reiterated that Albanian authorities should adopt targeted laws, policies and programmes to ensure equal rights for disadvantaged women, and to improve access for Roma and Egyptian women to education, health services, employment and housing.
Two of Myzejen Alushi’s five children are growing up in state care institutions in Tirana, over 100 kilometres from their family home in Fier in south-western Albania. Myzejen is half Egyptian and her husband Lulush is Roma; their children were taken away and placed in separate institutions without any court decision; and the Alushis are still the legal guardians of eleven-year-old M.D. and five-year-old Sh.A. This is the story of their struggle to get their children back home.
In the last couple of years we have increasingly focused our work in the Balkans. We are aware of millions of Roma in the region who can use our help in their fight against discrimination, and the EU accession process provides an opportunity to make a lasting change.
I have worked for years in an NGO using strategic litigation as a tool to protect women’s rights and I strongly believe that strategic litigation is a key tool for protecting Roma rights too. The strategic litigation I have most often taken was in the context of Albania’s struggle with the rule of law: it aimed at the implementation of international standards stemming from international acts ratified by the Albanian state, the implementation of standards found in the jurisprudence of international courts and other bodies, and the implementation of the rights foreseen in the law, but which are not used before and changes of the available judicial practices which affected women.