Hundreds of new mothers have to choose between their working place and the completion of the maternity leave side by side with their babies. Discriminatory and illegal practices especially for the state administration have stroked this category since many years ago.
By Telnis Skuqi – Endri Keraj
Gjirokastër –In Gjirokastra many of the young women that are employed in the state administration are afraid to become mothers as they risk losing their working place. Four years ago, Flutura Alikaj, a teacher of the Albanian literature for the 9 year school, lost her job immediately after her maternity leave. She was 28 years old when she became mother for the second time. “There is no biggest shame than this. I lost my working place after bringing into life a pretty creature. This happens only in Albania”, says Flutura in a revolted way. “I had heard that the return to my previous job would have been a difficult process as other women had not returned even before; and I really felt discriminated on being a woman”, says Flutura.
The kindergarten in Gjirokastra town
The same luck had the teacher of the English language Entela Karaulli. Entela says that she has lost her job two years ago, after bringing into life a healthy daughter, 3.7 kg. “The law protects me, but the law implementers do not protect me”, expresses Entela who adds that the reason for this anomaly is the malfunctioning of the state administration and corruption. “Unfortunately, we have an inactive state administration that does not respect the law for the protection of children”, she continues. To her, the maternity leave has a certain legal duration which is obligatory to 35 days before the child delivery and 42 days after it. “After this obligatory deadline, every young mother will decide by herself if she turns back to her work or extends it”, clarifies Entela. Differently to Flutura, Entela has managed to ensure her financial incomes by working as a babysitter in the black labour market. She says that she has turned her house into a kindergarten, where despite her daughter she takes care of three other kids.
“It is difficult to live without having a basic salary, but luck smiled to me. In my apartment building there are three other young mothers that work in the state administration”, says Entela. According to her, with her new profession she ensures 100 thousand leke per each child in month. “If I have four children every month, I win the double I was getting in the administration”, underlines Entela. Entela is conscious that she is working in the black labour market, but the need to raise her baby has obliged her to start a new profession. “I want to live with dignity, but the local government does not offer anything to me”, explains Entela.
Demir Kore, the director of the Economic Office at the Gjirokastra municipality, assesses the situation in the crèches and kindergartens as problematic and according to him the fund allocated from the state budget and deposited to the local governance has been decreased with 40% this year. “We have asked the support of the parents’ community, but they have not accepted to cooperate due to the economic crises”, says Kore. According to him, this year the fund defined from the government has been at the lowest level during the last 23 years. “We do have money only to ensure the heating during the winter time and no lek planned to support the families with special needs”, highlights Kore.
Aida Sotiri, the director of the biggest kindergarten in Gjirokastra “Cicerimat” says that many mothers rightly ask to use all the legal duration after the 42 days of the delivery as the conditions for their child’s upbringing is far from what is wanted. “We feel abandoned from the local government. The situation is scandalous. We do not have even any anti-fire equipment in case of emergency”, explains Sotiri. To her, the only way to improve the conditions in the kindergarten is the parents’ community. “Usually, in the public kindergartens are coming parents with incomes lower than the average. It is difficult for them to contribute with 3 or 5 thousand leke per year for a season, plus the monthly tariff for the food of the children”, underlines Sotiri.
Llambi Bllami, sociolog
Llambi Bllani, sociologist, says that the children are very sensitive towards the dirtiness and hygienic and sanitation conditions, whereas he talks about the enslavement of the women that live with the fear of being dismissed from their work not only when they use their maternity leave but also on cases of medical leaves, as they can be the cause for their dismissal. Official sources from the Institute of the Health Care Insurance in Gjirokastra Region (ISKSH) assess as very concerning the problem of the young mothers. “One out of seven new mothers that are working, do complete the full maternity leave, the others interrupt it in advance due to the fear that they have on losing their work.”, expresses the above mentioned source, who adds that the birth rate in Gjirokastra region is being reduced from year to year.
To 400 women that work in the private sector, 60% of the new mothers are using their full maternity leave, whereas the rest interrupts it in the first three or six months. “Only 5% of the new mothers that work in the private sector return to their working place 42 days after giving birth, as they trust the upbringing of the their children to their parents. ISKSH is interested that the babies are raised in a healthy way and with their natural parents, but the problems are multidimensional. This is a concern that has been notified by the State Social Service of Gjirokastra region (SHSSH) and according to the chief inspector of this institution, Dhimiter Mejdi, this is a big social problem. “The majority of the new mothers have lost their job due to the lack of the social infrastructure”, expresses Mejdi, some two weeks ago.
Edmond Kore, a defense lawyer in Gjirokastra district says that in the Labour Code the woman is equal to the man, except some specific cases. “All are equal. The woman is not any more a discriminating social element in the society”, thinks Kore. On regard to the above mentioned case, the defense lawyer Kore, specifies that no one has the right to leave his job without any strong reason which the Labour Code does not contain. “The teacher that has been dismissed due to the reform at the time that she was on her maternity leave is a legal violation. The Labour Code protects the new mothers, it does not fire them, like it really happened with Flutura”, says Kore adding that this case is very discriminating. “The employer could interrupt the contract if she does not start work in three successive days after the termination of her maternity leave”, underlines Kore. Furthermore, Kore says that the Labour Code, article 107, stipulates that the termination of the contract due to whatever reason has to be informed before the maternity leave, which has not happened. “When the termination of the contract has been announced before the start of the protection period, which is foreseen in the article 104 and the deadline for the notification has not finished, this deadline is suspended during the protection period. The deadline for the notification restarts right after the protection period ends”, says Kore, concluding his interview saying that as a defense lawyer he has faced tens of such cases in the whole Gjirokastra region.
Valbona Duri, Pedagogue-Gjirokastra
Valbona Duri, pedagogue of human geography at Gjirokastra university “Eqerem Cabej” in her study “Evolution of the number of families and its structure in Gjirokastra region, during the 20 years’ period 1989-1009”, says that the family as a whole does have its direct effect in the reproduction potential of the population. “The study on the dynamic of the number of the families for the period 1989-2009, shows that this number is increased with 17.8% compared to 1989”, highlights Duri, adding that the number of families in the cities is being increased, whereas in the rural areas it is decreased. Furthermore, continues Duri, we have the split of the big families into nuclear families and within the later there is also a decrease on the number of the children as result of the birthrate’s decrease.
“These changes are connected with many social and economic factors, such as increase of the urbanization level in the region, emigration of the population outside the region and the increase of indicators on female’s education”, argues Duri, explaining that in the last 20 years, the increase of the number of families in Gjirokastra district is 31.2%, whereas the lowest one is in Permet with 6.4% compared to 1989. Duri highlights that the biggest numbers of the families in Gjirokastra region are the ones with two children (77%), at the second place rate those having from 3 up to 5 children and at last those that have more than 6 children which consist on less than 1%. “Without underestimating the role that the process of the extended family’s split has had in the direct numeric decrease of the family, an important impact does also play the increase of the average age of the population, which directly influences in the decrease of the number of children and increase of the elderly people, who usually live in small families up to two members. The progress of the number of the families in Gjirokastra region will be mostly under the effect of the emigration process, as it is depicted from a clear migratory profile”, concludes Duri.
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