In many countries in Europe and Central Asia, gender equality policies are hindered by initiatives that mislead people into blaming equal rights activism for the destruction of the family. For instance in Romania, a recent petition signed by parents and religious organizations asked Ministry of Education to ban all educational material on gender equality. In many countries like Bulgaria, the ratification of the Istanbul Convention, one of the strongest existing tools in fighting violence against women, is blocked because it refers to gender inequality as the root cause of violence. Measures for protecting women from violence are not improving undef the excuse of resisting “gender propaganda”.
Women’s rights are a recent achievement, not yet fully completed in many societies, and misleading messages emphasizing irrational fears can reinforce obstacles in women and girls’ rights, especially in communities where male-domination is still regarded as the norm. ‘In school, we learn very little about women’s accomplishments in any field – history, literature, science- as if they’ve been erased. We miss female role models and we miss information. For example, we didn’t know that Romanian women got the right to vote less than 100 years ago. We’ve learnt about this at a gender equality workshop organized by A.L.E.G.’, says Denisa, one of the girls on the project team at A.L.E.G.
For the first time, women that deal with domestic violence can get in touch with those who managed to overcome an abusive relationship through an online platform: sieureusesc.ro.
“Women’s duty towards self sacrifice is passed down from generation to generation. That’s what I thought until I talked to one counselor specialized in domestic violence. “ says Simona, who now leads a peaceful life, although she’s in a wheelchair due to the abuse she suffered. “I thought violence meant only broken ribs until someone showed me a list of the different forms of an abuse”, says Loredana Kaschovits. “I’ve been through two abusive relationships, but I got out of them well”, says Ela. All these women managed to transform their life and now are eager to help others that are currently in the same situation as they were before.