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‘Women Can,’ an US-Inspired Book, Promoting  Emerging  Role of Women as Leaders in Albania

‘Women Can,’ an US-Inspired Book, Promoting Emerging Role of Women as Leaders in Albania

By Rudina HOXHA

Edlira Gjoni, leader of Centre for Public Impact in Tirana is the author of ‘Women Can’, a book which will be promoted on March 8th at 09.30 at the National Museum. Among many interesting aspects this book involves, it reflects the inclusiveness of all the Albanian women who are not public figures but “who , as Gjoni states, often silently, but consistently – work every day making a difference in the places in which they operate, providing a foundation and backbone for our existence as a country.”

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“I have chosen to talk about women and values because in Albania, when we talk about women, we tend to associate them with violence, media, politics, business or showbiz. But there are almost 1.5 million Albanian women who do not fall into these categories. And they are committed, hard working women, who show traits of character driven leaders, such as honesty, integrity, trust, selflessness, courage, resilience, humility and more,” Gjoni states in an exclusive interview with Follow Business Albania Magazine one day before the book promotion.

The book, inspired by the McCain Institute and the year she spent in the U.S. for her Leadership Studies, portrays 51 Albanian women and the 51 leadership traits are defined through the lives and actions of the women selected by a large group of people who contribute to the website page Women Can.  

The book also includes three women from the start-up/innovation world including Ana Zacharian, Co-Founder and CEO of Albania Skills.

Gjoni invites all to highlight a tribute to all those women who serve and make us proud and often are not recognized for their efforts.  

Full interview below:

What’s all about Women Can and how did you come up with this idea? Did your experience in US play a part in this book writing?

Women Can is a book about shared values and leadership traits portrayed by 51 Albanian women. The number is not random. It represents 51% of the Albanian population.

I have chosen to talk about women and values because in Albania, when we talk about women, we tend to associate them with violence, media, politics, business or showbiz. But there are almost 1.5 million Albanian women who do not fall into these categories. And they are committed, hard working women, who show traits of character driven leaders, such as honesty, integrity, trust, selflessness, courage, resilience, humility and more.

I dedicate the book to them and to every woman in Albania who – often silently, but consistently – works every day making a difference in the places in which she operates, providing a foundation and backbone for our existence as a country.

About the movement and the Women Can book, I was indeed inspired by the McCain Institute and the year I have spent in the U.S. for my Leadership Studies. I felt the energy for a new shared leadership structure with women emerging in more visible roles and to be proud and empowered Albanian female leaders. The book is the reflection of the movement of the same name that promotes the emerging role of women as leaders in Albania, since September 2017.

Will all the women find themselves in this book or just certain categories or groups? How it will impact them?

No categories are left behind! The 51 leadership traits are defined through the lives and actions of the women selected by a large group of people who contribute to the website page Women Can.  I want to thank the many women and men who suggested names of these inspirational leaders, situations, and leadership traits.

The main criteria of selection have been modesty, integrity, character and being “behind the scenes” leader. Without these women and leaders, none can succeed and shine. For example, I have not picked the new anchors, but the reports who prepare the news; not the business owners, but the managers, workers or administrators that keep the business running; not the frontline CEOs from organisations, but the hard-working ladies on various components, departments or sectors in each industry. Leaders in their own right!

This book walks us into a large female leadership circle and highlights their leadership traits, and hence introduces us to Albanian female leaders, who are not public figures. These women use these traits on a daily basis to lead those with whom they work.

This was a purposeful decision, to give space, recognition, and gratitude to all those women who serve and make us proud and often are not recognized for their efforts.  These women work in a variety of places and ways where their notable achievements often go unnoticed, but each day go to work at schools, hospitals, media outlets, institutions, farms, and countless other places that touch our lives.

Women in career or those embracing start-ups. What are you saying to this category through this book?

There are three women from the start-up world in the book. They represent the spirit of team work, vision, determination and long terms perspective. I believe these are traits that every entrepreneur should demonstrate. And to them I say: Be optimistic! It is part of the character! You will not be defined only by what you achieve, but also by HOW you achieve it! Competences are important, but so is the character, and so focus a bit more on this side of your wonderful self. And I want to close this by quoting one of the women in the book, Ana Zacharian who says: “I’ve faced many challenges and difficulties in life, and what they have taught me is to be more persistent and resilient. It is through tough times that I’ve realized how my patience, persistence and clear focus make an unbeatable combination for triumphs, big and small ones. I am happy I’ve had the opportunity to learn my lessons, to keep going and to help young people do the same in their love and passion for start-up and skills”

What are you doing at present?

Leading the Centre for Public Impact in Tirana, focusing in good governance, active citizenship, advancing women’s role at all levels of governance and promoting our shared values, all whilst the Centre, again inspired by the McCain Institute offers trainings on Character Driven Leadership for all the above targets.

And as always, I am part of the public discourse and media presence in our beloved Albania!

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