Empowerment of women in the grassroots

Taking into consideration the poor representation of the Romanian women at the WIDE international conference held in Bucharest, a question arises. Why were they so underrepresented in Panels?

Despite the fact that the organizing country should take the advantage of the location, the matter of  representation was not, in fact, due to the organizers, but just a mere consequence of some existent facts: there are no women’s movements that can be seen because Romanians don’t even imagine grassroots women’s movements.

While women struggle became an agenda for an academic approach, is not yet an issue for educational policies. Even if EU pre-adhesion conditions stipulate the necessity of the Romanian state to implement appropriate legislation for women’s human rights, the raising awareness of the Romanian women about the existence of these feminist political views is not a real one.

They are still victims of domestic violence and of gender discrimination at workplaces, without being conscious of it. In their families, a 95% of the cases treated domestic work as a women’s specific concern. Among EU states Romania has the lowest women’s representation in Parliament (9,7%), and, unfortunately, this subject is ignored by the international support due to the “official laws” that can stand for gender equality. Many of the Romanian labour migrant women who leave their families behind, expose themselves, both in their country and in the receiving ones, to incredible dramas.

The serious problem is the understanding of gender equality norms by the local people. The way to do it remains unknown, even though I can easily say that raising awareness and empowerment of women in grassroots could be the best way. And a real help for a healthy civic society are international NGOs, like WIDE, which will facilitate the transfer of knowledge and capacity building from organizations around the world.

Like in the final Panel presentation of WIDE, where Barbara Sprecht pointed out the international strategies of capacity building and networking for development and actions which will enforce women’s rights, I think the role of new European member states should be more visible, more active. And for better results this should be done both ways: states as aid receivers and aid donors.

There are 3 key concepts for fighting against the vices of economic global system: solidarity, networking and movement building. The same economic global system which is unjust, unsustainable and shaped by neo-liberal policies is the one which creates gender, race, class, age inequality through exclusion and discrimination. The aim is to educe this junction as a social, political, cultural and economical intersection, to unpack the themes and to address them globally.

Ioana Vrabiescu, participant in Panel 4, second day of the conference.


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