This grant will enable the local municipality to open a community meeting and conference space in the main municipal offices with the goal of providing a space to conduct positive community building activities and programs with the specific goal of empowering girls of the region. Funds will go towards furnishing the room, a projector and audio equipment, and supplies for activities. The community contribution includes the space, labor hours for cleaning and fixing the space, and employee hours in community outreach and implementation. In this space, girls in the community and surrounding rural areas will share their voice, engage with local role models, and increase their visions of their future and ability to impact their own community. This will be done through two such programs. First, a community-wide monthly Girl’s club will allow girls to participate in confidence and community building activities and attend meetings led by women that are strong role models. With the large meeting space, municipal officials, parents, and school officials will also be able to collaborate with this project and increase their capacity to promote strong girls. Second, a regional Youth Council will be comprised of at least 50% girls, enabling both girls and the youth as a whole to voice their needs and challenges, organize activities, and learn valuable leadership skills. These programs will be the first girl-focused projects conducted by the municipality, and with the creation of the space- the hope is it will be a catalyst for further projects and organizations.
The community is the driving force behind this project, as they have personally requested this project. The community has requested help in the outfitting of this room and has shared the need for a community and meeting space for programs such as a youth council, EU desk meetings and trainings, and larger employee meetings. The room is used at times, already, as the meeting space for the council and for official events such as the swearing in of the mayor, though for such events there is currently not sufficient resources and the items such as chairs and microphones must be sourced with a fee elsewhere. Community members have also requested such a space for community projects and activities such as WriteOn!, girls clubs, and performances. Further, many community members have a desire to start grassroot organizations, such as women's rights and empowerment organizations in the community, stating that a large roadblock to the creation is the inability to find a space outside of coffee shops that is financially affordable. Thus, the community (both the council and community at large) have been the driving force behind this project. School teachers and directors will also be involved by participating in girl's clubs meetings and aiding in advertisement of the youth council and identifying students for such a club. The community has also been involved in developing and planning this project through informal interviews of both council representatives, NGO's and community members. It is through these conversations not only the need for the space was determined, but also the aspects most necessary for the room- including projectors and microphones. This community will continue to be involved in a non-political sense with the agreement signed by the Mayor, stating use of the room will not be determined off of personal or political reasons and will be free of charge. Finally, this project involves the whole community, not just local residents but also the administrative units that were added as part of the municipal expansion to better offer services and allow participation for people from all areas.
This project is sustainable because the room created will be present for a long time in the future. The room is in sound structural form, further leading to sustainability. Even more, the council has agreed to provide cleaning and upkeep of the room and the supplies as well as agreeing to allow access to the room regardless of personal or political affiliation. The youth council is largely self sustaining, however the new creation of a "youth specialist" position in the council as Albanian law has created a legal duty to have such a council will also create sustainability. The youth specialist has been named and she has already been trained in the capacity and has been in the role since June 2019. Youth councils will continue to be funded by the council and private fundraising activities by the council, which will replace the items supplied by the starter kit. The mayor's agreement to leave the room open to organizations regardless of political association will also help with the trust and sustainability of the project.