08 Mar 2022
By: Bardha Qokaj

As we celebrate the International Women’s Day, we recognize the contribution of women and girls to climate actions, building a more sustainable future for all. This year, in alignment with the UN’s overall theme, “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”, IOM focuses on climate change and migration: a matter of gender equality.

Ariana Zeka, an Albanian Diaspora highly skilled woman, has contributed to environment issues of her home country through the IOM Albania Diaspora Programme, implemented from October 2017 to Dec 2021.  As part of this programme, she was one of 38 highly skilled exerts who supported the Albanian Government towards the EU approximation process.

This contribution fulfils a personal aspiration and the efforts of over a decade to contribute with my expertise and work for the improvement and protection of the health of Albanian people. I feel I have honoured my obligation to my country in a crucial process for Albania.

Ariana Zeka

She is an environmental epidemiologist and population health scientist and is trained as a medical doctor. She worked as a physician in Tirana and later obtained a Master of Science in Environmental Sciences and Policy in the UK, and a Doctor of Science degree in Environmental Epidemiology in the United States. Ariana has worked as an advisor on environmental and health issues for several national public health institutes, including in the UK, Italy, Ireland, Georgia, China, the World Health Organization and, obviously, Albania.

Despite a very successful career abroad, Ariana Zeka never forgot her roots and kept finding ways to contribute to her country as a member of the diaspora.

Through the EU fellowship scheme, she contributed to the needs of the Ministry of Tourism and Environment and the National Environmental Agency. Together with a team of diaspora members, she worked on the Chapter 27, Environment, that is part of the requirements Albania has to meet in its EU integration process, to identify the progress and needs in relation to the environment and climate.

“The contribution of diaspora is quite important, and it can be facilitated through similar projects such as this, or through the recognition of such expertise by the Albanian institutions,” concludes Ariana.

SDG 5 - Gender Equality
SDG 13 - Climate Action
SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals