Ky postim ekziston gjithashtu në Vesionin Shqip
She is a native of Konispol, a town of over 4,000 inhabitants. Her father used to represent her townspeople in the Parliament before the nineties. In 2011 Mimoza Arapi was elected Mayor.
Mimoza Arapi proudly reports that her hometown was never depopulated as was the case with most of the remote border areas in Albania. On the contrary, her town has grown. Konispol boasts a rich history. According to Mimoza Arapi, it is a cultivated place; women are well respected and rec- ognized as leaders. She wants to pay back her townspeople for the trust they have in her.
Thank you for the opportunity you gave me to speak about Konispol, southern Albania’s end point. Konispol is the first Albanian town you come across when you enter Albania from Greece. In a way, my town is Albania’s business card. I feel proud about it; I love this place, above all because of the qualities of its people. I feel very committed to my role as the mayor.
It’s actually the first time ever that Konispol is led by a woman. I really appreciate the opportunity given to me by the Socialist Party and by its leader. I think my commitment to my townspeople, my communication, my affinity to them made them vote for a woman, a fellow citizen. At the end it was their choice, and I feel very good about the fact that they trusted a woman to lead them. I will do my best to pay them back.
I graduated with a degree in History and Geography in 1990. I taught for 21 years at the Konispol high school. I always cherished being a teacher. I was a municipal councillor for the Socialist Party of Albania, and then I was elected Chair of the Council. Now I am the mayor.
It would be wrong to say that during the transition to democracy, most people stayed away from politics by abandoning political forces. At present, fewer people are interested to contribute in the political organization of the community as they did back then.
I immediately felt good as a part of the Socialist Party. It has a simple, easy- to-grasp program. I was influenced by my family as well. Things are strongly interconnected. I believed the Socialist Party was closer to the people, so I joined it, first as a supporter, then as a member.
I don’t rule out cases of resistance of men towards their spouses’ wish to enter politics. Of course I am a lucky case, for several reasons. The family is the stem cell of the society, so I tried to give my best to my children, to my spouse and to get from them a lot of support in return. If I were to say that my current position came as a result of my efforts alone, I would be greatly wrong.
No woman, no man, can do it alone, if the family is not consolidated. If you’ve got problems inside your family, you cannot be successful in public, and you’ve got no morals to work for others. In this regard I consider myself very lucky. Artan is not just my spouse; he is my friend… the closest one. I am happy to share my achievements, my concerns, my worries with him.
Albanian politics is loaded with tension. In a way it is still a male monopoly. Not all the evils of the world are located in the male mentality though. Women have to support each other to move forward. I don’t claim to be a women’s rights activist. I don’t mean to say that the world should belong to women only. I want to see capable women move forward, so that they can contribute to the society, so that they can serve society.
We have very good women professionals in many fields; they should support each other, so that we have more of them challenging a society which still denies to women their chance to advance.
I can’t say they aren’t.
I received good words of support from people who believed in me, and maybe that was conditioned by my own way of communicating with people. I try to be as simple and as down-to-earth as I can. I feel with the people, and try to understand their problems, so that I can solve them. Of course, there are risks that await each person who chooses to be direct, yet this is the way I have chosen.
I respect all SP structures, which are to be credited for seeing in me the person who would win for the party. The municipality of Konispol was lost by the SP in the previous elections. It wasn’t easy to find the way back to victory, especially for a woman, yet I am very happy they trusted in me, and I was able to pay them back by working hard.
I owe them a great deal for the trust they had in me, on the other hand I feel a greater obligation towards my townspeople.
In order to strike a good balance between party affiliation and public duty, I need to go to great lengths in both directions, by trying to stick to the party program on the one hand, and by trying not to be overly political, on the other, so that I can accommodate those who have a different opinion.
The Socialist Party has a lot of women personalities, who have supported the party from different angles. They have personally contributed to consolidate the party. Each of them represents a valid asset, and their different profiles help us get the best out of them.
Even though I don’t want to say I want to follow her way, I always admired Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady.
I have been very careful in laying out the blueprint of my political and professional career. If I were quick to say yes, I would consider it as a sort of euphoric approach. If I was offered another position, I would have to be very sincere to myself first, I would first have to ask myself whether I could do it or not.
As the mayor I want to implement in real terms the very simple program I drafted for the citizens. I feel lucky that my project to construct a new public square for my town was positively assessed by the government. Very soon we will have a city centre. In addition to that, I would like to solve the issue of the water supply for my town.
It is a difficult issue, because our area is not rich in water sources. We still have an interrupted water supply in Konispol – one day we have water, the next day we don’t.
I had plenty of tough days. Things get tougher if, in addition to facing the people’s problems the whole day through, we had to face the silence of today’s opposition. Today we have to implement a program written by the people, for the people. One needs to be patient. Being patient is all about how you reflect on the time you spend waiting.
That was the day when the project for the central square was finally approved.
My philosophy is to have a small, functioning administration. I gave a chance to women who were able to demonstrate they could work better than men.