Economic insecurity and vulnerability to human trafficking.

Albania remains one of the poorest countries in Europe. Through our grassroots level work we witness first-hand how economic insecurity and poverty are directly linked to an increased risk of human trafficking. Similarly, we witness how economic stress and a lack of basic financial resources can act as a trigger for violence against family members. 

Our economic empowerment programme includes the entire spectrum of our initiatives and efforts to assist our beneficiaries in achieving financial and economic stability.

The Albanian job market is dominated by unskilled labour positions in the construction sector, shoe and clothing production industry and seasonal summer employment in the tourism industry. For this reason, MWL invests heavily in vocational training opportunities for youth, women and men as a way to achieve permanent employment and a steady income. In addition to providing training in CV writing, ASC members routinely facilitate employment opportunities for beneficiaries with local businesses and other NGOs, such as Dev-Aid.

Response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Continued disruptions to livelihoods caused by the pandemic have increased economic and food insecurity among the most vulnerable individuals our ASCs serve. With borders closed for Albanian migrant workers, MWL began partnering with local businesses and public institutions to assist the unemployed in accessing available public services and support.

For those remaining employed, fear of losing their only source of income has increased the danger of workplace exploitation. Specifically, women employed in the textile and garment sector are at greater risk of abuse an ill treatment. Human trafficking in the supply chain system has increased significantly. With a lack of government oversight and enforcement, exploitation is becoming normalized. Such developments significantly complicate the identification of workplace exploitation. In response, those seeking services at ASCs are now routinely provided information on labour codes and workers’ rights. To date, 5 individuals have received support in transitioning from exploitive work conditions to other employment.

Social Business initiatives

Women’s economic livelihoods continue to be supported by two social business initiatives launched by MWL. The transfer of the day-to-day running of a touristic workshop in Tropoja to one of the female employees marks an important moment in the economic empowerment of our beneficiaries in the area. Utilizing business skills acquired through MWL training, the manager now independently coordinates the activities of the workshop. By doing so, she supports the livelihood of 20 women through the production and sales of their handicrafts. The handover represents the achievement of our highest hopes and aspirations for this initiative. Although the second business is not yet in a position to run independently, the Kallmet Workshop continues to provide 5 women with a regular source of income. 

This article is compiled from the findings of the Mary Ward Loreto Annual Report 2021. Download the full report here.