On the top of Mount Kilimanjaro looking at a melting glacier, I realised that climate change exists. It was at that moment that I knew I wanted to work with Mother Nature and not against it. Albania is a country with a high level of biodiversity but a low level of environmental consciousness; it is the ideal place to work hard for conservation. I consider my biggest professional achievement as putting into practice my beliefs regarding sustainability.
Rural women in Albania receive an education that makes them believe that they are worth less than a man, living with this belief their entire life. Sometimes they can be treated like farm animals. We established TWAWI to empower rural women, to increase confidence in themselves and the key role they play in the community, and promote activities that help them gain a better understanding of the use of natural resources. We have restored a spring-water ecosystem and set up a business that sustainably cultivates and sells aromatic and medicinal plants.
As a former senior executive for a car company based in Singapore, I am used to being in command. But as a woman who now works in Albania, my word as a woman does not count as much as the word of a man. It is insulting for me. To overcome this, I must delegate men to do things for me that I could do alone very easily; it’s annoying, but it works for this type of society.
In my opinion younger rural women will not change their situation alone. They will succeed only if men will help. In order to do this, there is a need for a better school education, and good examples that change stereotypes. Older men have understood this here, and could be a good ally for younger women.