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VOL - 9 / 2015 - SEP

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Women’s Political Citizenship in Post State-socialist Countries


The state controlled society in the Eastern Europe had little space for citizenship initiatives for decades. Repeated cases of ‘forced volunteerism’ by youth and women were mainly initiated and closely supervised by state oficials. After the political changes in the early 90’s in Central and Eastern Europe, many scholars predicted that the end of communism would lead to a greater degree of citizen-led initiatives, including women’s higher rate of engagement in political and civil society activities. Indeed, such citizenship actions and initiatives quickly emerged, but women’s participation in different areas was not as high as expected. Civil society offered women more space to apply their political agency regarding several issues, whether directly or non-directly related to women’s issues. If women were not equally represented in the civil society domain, their contributions were still missing, so they could bring about no change to the lives of their own or those of other citizens. As a matter of fact civil society offered women in Eastern Europe a space to exert their political agency: a domain where they could act between the state and individuals. However, women’s exertion of political rights in this domain of citizenship is still controversial as long as there are presented some problematic implications related to men and their involvement in civil society as compared to women’s agency and their political citizenship. First, even though civil society was initially considered by men as worthwhile and promising, they later became more interested in parliamentary politics where there was more decision-making power. As a result, this implied that women were replacing men after they left for something more inluential than civil society. Second, if civil society activities are viewed as less important than parliamentary political involvement, women’s agency within civil society is devalued, thus perpetuating women’s role as being more humanitarian than political. Third, civil society through non-governmental organizations is mainly inluenced by donors and their agenda, which may lessen women’s agency and inluence as political actor


Political citizenship; Post state socialism; Civil society; Albania; Women


Eriada Çela

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