My favorite coffee shop is across the street from the high school where our language lessons are held. The first floor is home to a pool hall, a butcher shop and what I think is a sport’s betting counter. Upstairs is a a lokal kafe.
After school, we often head upstairs to enjoy a drink or two while we study Shqip. Drip coffee doesn’t exist in Albania but thankfully an espresso is only 40 leke. The only problem is that a normal espresso is about two ounces. Beer is 100 to 150 leke but raki is only 50 so often times at the end of the day it will be our choice drink.
Going out for coffee in Albania is a common pass time. Many families receive remittances from family members working abroad so unemployed men spend their time going out for coffee. Going out for coffee doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to drink coffee but refers to enjoying a beverage while taking for a period of time. In theory, this sounds great but in practice there is one major problem. Only men go out for coffee.
I have been here for going on three weeks now and the only women I have seen drinking coffee or eating at restaurants have been our language teachers and fellow volunteers. It doesn’t stop at the cafe’s either. Girls are almost completely absent from public places. Gender inequality doesn’t stop at the cafes. In most homes, women do all the work. They cook the meals, set and clear the tables, do laundry, clean, and otherwise take care of the home, while their husbands and sons go out for coffee.
While we are living in Pajove, we are putting together a field day to encourage girls to come out and enjoy their school yard. It will be interesting to see how this plans out. Poor nutrition and littering are also a problem in Pajove so we are going to encourage healthy habits through the even but our primary goal is promoting gender equality.
When the subject of gender equality comes up in the states we debate whether men have an advantage in getting a promotion or raise but here that seems petty.