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On 27 August, on “Bulevardi i Pishave”, in the Golem beach a lively and wonderful atmosphere was created by the motives of Albanian traditional culture and the rhythm of ethno-music. The handicraft fair assembled several artisans from Kavaja and from different cities such as Kruja, Berat, Tirana, Durres Vau Dejës, and Gjirokastra, who presented their artisan products, are carefully crafted by their hands, and attracted the attention of all those present. Many Albanian and foreign tourists and visitors visited the fair and stand stilled at the tables filled with various artisan products: loom products, pottery, traditional dresses, carpets, embroidery, crochet and needlework, macrame, filigree, resin, etc. and got to known with the mastery and creativity of artisans in the production of handicraft products.

The fair offered demonstration workshops of handcrafting inviting children and  youngsters trying to realize simple crafting processes by hand with the support of artisans. Many children joined to try the magic of having the opportunity to create art by their own hands and then to pick that little piece of art up and leave happy from the fair. The aim of the fair is to promote handicrafts as an instrument for women’s  economic empowerment;  the importance of the sector for tourism development, cultural heritage and  national identity as well as the social and economic well-being of women and girls. Also, a modest exhibition of old photos that mirror the handicraft and Kavaja tradition created a captivating corner for visitors.

The activity was opened with the performance of  Children’s Dance Group, Kavaja Children’s Cultural Center with the “Valla e Qilimave” dance. Then the organizers of the event welcomed with a message all participants and artisans. Firstly, Evelina Azizaj , National Coordinator of Albanian Network for Rural Development said, among other things : “The organizers of this event – ANRD, Kavaja Municipality, UN Women – share the same opinion on the important role of women and girls in family and community well-being, the difficulties that they experience, and the importance of their economic empowerment. This issue requires different instruments that are appropriate to different local contexts in which women and girls are and to count on local potentials and resources. For this reason, the fair aims to promote handicrafting as an instrument of economic empowerment of women and girls and their social and economic well-being, as well as for the protection of the rich heritage and cultural identity of our country”.

The Deputy Mayor of Kavaja Municipality, Valbona Karkini Mustafa, mentioned the rich handicraft tradition of Kavaja and expressed the willingness of the municipality to revitalize this rich heritage and socio-economic empowerment of women and girls engaged in the handicraft value chain.

The director of UN Women programs in Albania Estela Bulku welcomed this event, focusing on the recovery project from the earthquake that is being implemented by UN Women in collaboration with partners and this event is part of this project too. “The area of ​​Durrës, Kavaje and others are still suffering from the consequences of the November 2019 earthquake. The project aims at the economic empowerment of women as part of the post-earthquake recovery activity.

After visiting the fair tables and talking with artisans, a panel discussion was held focusing on the handicraft, the challenges and potentials this sector offers for the well-being of young women and girls. The panel shared different ideas on the challenges and problems the sector faces, the difficulties of artisans, as well as concrete experiences from different artisans focusing on opportunities to improve the situation and recommendations in this direction.

The handicraft fair was an excellent opportunity to create bridges between consumers and artisans. Many Albanian  and foreign visitors and tourists were amazed by the works that the artisans had created and often wouldn’t leave without buying a valuable product from the rich Albanian heritage. The activity clearly proved how such initiatives can increase the  self-esteem, marketing improvement, networking and empowerment of artisan women. Such activities should be sustainable in time and supported by all local and national actors.

This event was organised by the Albanian Network for Rural Development in collaboration with Kavaja municipality and support of UN Women in Albania in the framework of the intervention WOMEN’S ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT IN HANDICRAFTS VALUE CHAIN IN THE MUNICIPALITY OF KAVAJA is being implemented by the Albanian Network for Rural Development within the Gender-Sensitive Post-Earthquake Recovery and Reconstruction Project, supported by UN Women Albania and funded by the Government of Sweden, through the UN Albania SDG Acceleration Fund.