The documentary ‘Women in Dictatorship – Beyond the Myth of Emancipation’ by cultural journalist Fatmira Nikolli was shown on Thursday in Tirana, highlighting how Albania’s repressive Communist regime falsely claimed it was giving women freedom by allowing them to have education and employment.
Through interviews with six Albanian women about their experiences under Communism, the documentary deals with how the regime led by dictator Enver Hoxha used propaganda to construct a myth about women’s emancipation and how this was used for the benefit of the ruling party.
Women could not choose their education or profession freely if the party did not agree, Nikolli told BIRN. “Women continued to be judged on moral issues, especially when they were from families that were enemies of the regime,” she said.
She added that women did not have full rights to divorce and abortion under the Communist regime, which came to power at the end of World War II and remained in control until 1991.
“Divorce was allowed, but the divorced woman was stigmatised while children out of wedlock were hidden, but the burden of judgment by the state fell only on the woman. Abortion was also not allowed or talked about,” she explained.
She argued that under Communism, women “went from [being] family property to party property”.
“Communism used women as a labour force, interpreting this as emancipation,” she said.
The documentary was shown as part of the ten-day ‘Memory Days’ series of events remembering the period of repressive Communist rule in Albania, organised by the Institute for Democracy Media and Culture, supported by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.
Armanda Hysa, a historian and anthropologist who is the vice-director of the Institute for the Study of Communist Crimes and Consequences, said that the use of the term ‘women’s emancipation’ by the regime was “a tactic for infantilising and appropriating a just cause”.
“That, in addition to burdening the Albanian woman with work outside the home, turned emancipation into a weapon of the party,” Hysa said at the screening of the film. (BIRN)