Bajana Çeveli, The ringing voice of a woman in Albanian masculine society.
In a society that ranks first in Europe for the number of murders by intimate partners[1], Bajana has 24 years from now chosen to be the voice of those who are raped, raped and killed every day.
Her mission to help vulnerable groups, women and children began in 1999 in difficult times for the Balkans. Women from Kosovo who had been subjected to inhumane violence, homicide and the rape of their children found support at the doors of their Albanian sisters, one of whom was Bajana. This was the starting point in the difficult path of challenging the patriarchal mentality and changing gender stereotypes, not only in the city of Durrës but throughout Albania.
In fact, domestic violence has much deeper roots in Albanian society, even being vindicated in the Canon of Lek Dukagjini, giving the husband the right to "punish" the woman who was considered his property.[2]
With this mission Bajana, along with other women and girls, decided to establish the Association of Women with Social Problems, Durrës (SHGPS), today called the Gender, Peace and Security Association. The first projects started in 2000 with the establishment of centers for specific groups of society, initially the Center for Women and Girls, the Youth Center, the Durrës Elderly Day Center. The purpose of their development was to develop youth groups in Durrës, to provide day care services for the elderly as well as to provide psychological and legal support to victims of domestic violence.
From its beginnings until today, after nearly two decades its purpose remains the same. In the 2000s women and girls in Albania were at the mercy of fate. Men, fathers, and husbands were the ones in charge of the fate of their daughters and wives; they were the ones deciding when the girl should marry, whom to marry, whether she should continue her studies or not, whether she would be allowed to work outside the walls. of the house. To all these choices made on their behalf violence is to be added.
Albanian legislation had shortcomings in protecting and guaranteeing gender equality between men and women. The first legal provision was the one enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Albania[3], meanwhile years ago, since 1992, the Albanian state has ratified a number of International Conventions that obliged it to take concrete measures to respect women's rights and avoid gender-based discrimination.
Nevertheless, the first concrete step was the adoption of the National Strategy for Gender Equality and Domestic Violence (NSGE-DV) 2007-2010 and the adoption of Law no. 9669, dated 18.12.2006 "On Measures Against Domestic Violence". The adoption of the present law was a challenge for Bajana, who held the position of Executive Director of the Association. There was a need to raise community awareness on legal provisions, on the rights community was guaranteed, and how and where people should seek protection. Already in Durrës, alongside with socio-economic changes and internal migration, there was an increase in population which brought by different cultures and mindsets. These campaigns were spread all over the rural area, in different parts of the community, demanding the awareness of women and girls on the fact that domestic violence should not be tolerated as well as asking men and boys to reflect on the fact that the violence perpetrated by them does not serve to create and sustain family, but it brings to the destruction of the society.
The first statistical data on domestic violence following the adoption of the law appeared in 2007, from the publication of INSTAT, in the report "National Population-Based Survey on Domestic Violence". According to this report in 2007 at least 56.0% of women and girls aged 15-49 had experienced violence in their marriage / intimate relationship. Meanwhile today, after nearly 10 years of data released by the United Nations Office on Crime and Drugs (UNODC), in a recent report Albania had the highest rate of homicide by intimate partners, with 0.7 killings per 100,000 women, according to data referring to 2016. This is the highest level in Europe.
This is not the balance of the victims of an armed conflict, but the balance of a gender-biased war, men and boys killing their sisters, mothers, daughters, girlfriends and wives.
In such circumstances, Bajana realized that now, simply combating domestic violence, when in fact homicide rates are higher, requires another level of involvement. This was also the reason for lobbying for the implementation of UN Resolution 1325. The present Resolution, although adopted on 31 October 2000 by the UN Security Council, had remained unimplemented as a result of the unwillingness of Albanian political actors.
Her untired work has begun with the consultation process, awareness seminars, trainings, informal coordination meetings at technical and political level, with collaborations with the representatives of state institutions, civil society organizations and international partners in order to develop a national action plan for the implementation of Resolution 1325. Translated into figures this lobby involved 32 journalism student participants, 14 women, representatives of line ministries and international partners, 35 representatives of monitoring meetings, namely 27 staff, 2 representatives journalists, 2 Un Women representatives and 3 staff of USSR, 37 participants in public events in different regions of Albania, outreach and information activities - 29 students of media, public forum with journalist -28 participants, coordination meetings - 13 participants.
The result of her work and insistence was the creation of a society where women have a stronger role and are active participants in peacekeeping, conflict prevention and resolution, as well as an internationally contributing society in guaranteeing the rights of women involved in conflictual situations.
The final step of her several years of untired work was materialized with the drafting of the Action Plan, through the Decision of the Council of Ministers no. 524, dated 11.9.2018.
The importance of drafting the present plan stands in the commitment of the country's top central policymaking institutions acting in the field of security and peacekeeping, gender issues, and addressing the country's international commitments.[4]
Bajana has been and still continues to be the voice and image of all those women that are no more today in the midst of violence, of those women who are quietly subjected to violence, of those who seek to raise healthy families. She is the inspiration and support of every girl and woman who will break the cycle of violence and who seeks to change the way of thinking and seeks to decide for herself. It is the lack of strength and support, often from the mother, father and family.
Bajana is the name of a female hero who, without the need to be in the center of attention, works quietly for an independent woman, for a free and peaceful society.
Written by:

[1]"Global Study on Gender-Related Homicide for Women and Girls" UNODC - United Nations Office on Crime and Drugs“
[3]Article 18/2: “Everyone is equal before the law and no one may be unjustly discriminated against on grounds such as sex, race, religion, ethnicity, language, political, religious or philosophical beliefs, economic, educational, social standing.