Remarks by Ambassador Yuri Kim at the Leadership Academy for Women Members of Parliament

Thank you very much for inviting me to this event!

I would like to say good afternoon to Deputy Speaker Hysi, to Ms. Gjebrea, Ms. Gjermeni, Ms. Kovacevic, Ms. Cepani.

It is wonderful to see everyone!  Welcome and congratulations to what has to be one of the most amazing groups of women anywhere in the world, especially in Albania.  Women’s participation and empowerment at all levels of society is key to moving democracies forward.  However, while women’s equal participation is fundamental, participation is not the goal.  The goal is to build a more prosperous and merit-based society where contributions and benefits are equally shared.

The United States, as you know, is committed to pushing forward in this cause for the simple fact that we know it works.  Increased participation by women in politics results in tangible gains for democratic governance, including greater responsiveness to citizens’ needs, economic progress, political stability, and greater prosperity for everyone.  And I would like to note here that Albania does a better job than the United States in terms of  participation of women in high levels of government and so this is something that I want to take back to Washington when I return.  It is something that we need to learn from Albania.And the math is simple.  When we have more women involved in decision making, we have more responsibility, greater equality, and more prosperity and progress.

Here in Albania, the U.S. Embassy has continuously supported efforts that promote women’s political participation to help Albania move toward its European future.  Two years ago, we joined efforts with the Equality in Decision-Making Network and NDI Albania to organize this leadership academy to help all of you hone your skills to succeed as Members of Parliament and agents of change.

Today I’m pleased to join you in the closing ceremony of the Academy.  I’m confident that you’ve made the most out this program to increase the effectiveness of your performance as legislators; in representing your constituents, strengthening your positions and influence within your party and parliament; and becoming role models for women and girls, as well as boys, who aspire to join political life.

I want to congratulate all of you for your efforts and contributions as women, politicians and parliamentarians for a better future of Albania.  I also want to say that while these remarks refer to women politicians, I think it is more appropriate to say politicians who happen to be women.

Before I conclude, I want to thank NDI and Equality in Decision-Making Women Network for putting this important effort together.  I’d also want to thank the Parliamentary Sub-Committee for Gender Equality and the Alliance of Women Parliamentarians for providing their contribution and expertise in crafting the Academy program to better respond to the needs of  all the participants.  And finally, I would like to recognize the leadership of the parliament for their special support and attention to this Academy.

You carry with you today both the skills you need to further your political careers and the responsibility of serving those you represent.  I hope you will take this responsibility seriously – in fact, I know you take it seriously – and that you will use these skills to represent the Albanian people – men, women, children, all of them – to the best of your ability.

Thank you so much!