Being from Eastern Europe (Romania) always gave me a special view of the world, and pushed me to move forward. Eastern Europe is a wonderful place for vacation trips, river cruises and short 15 seconds bits in the news… For me, as a journalist fresh out of college, it was way more: it was my battle ground, the place where I would become someone, make a difference, have my voice heard. Well, it turned out that was not the case, as getting a decent job in any kind of media would actually be reduced to just two simple basic skills: copy and paste! So there I was, after 4 years in college and working at small newspapers, completely lost and confused on whether journalism has actually a voice in Romania. I was lucky enough to stumble upon a job posting within a nonprofit. And that was the beginning of my own dream.
Eight years later, a Master’s Degree and an MBA, I actually see my dream coming together: working on having my own nonprofit, focused on grass-root oriented activities involving teenagers. Since I’ve had the opportunity to observe the European legal framework and be part of several working teams on human rights, free access to information and freedom of speech – all closely related to discrimination, I clearly knew what I wanted. Furthermore, what surfaced through all of that was that although legally there was no gender discrimination in Romania, in day to day life, women are still struggling to have the same rights as men do. What was even more shocking was that the status quo is empowered by the education young people receive through the national education system.
Having in mind that there are no classes on human rights, gender equality and gender discrimination, young girls, especially high school girls, tend to accept being treated as if they are on an inferior level both socially and intellectually. This has a direct result seen daily in the sexual harassment and discrimination that girls and women are subjected to in schools, at their jobs and even on the streets. Suffice it to say that in rural areas, gender discrimination results in imposed childhood marriages, or domestic violence. This may not seem as important as other social problems, but the generally accepted education pattern tells young girls and women this is an acceptable behavior, and should not be changed or dealt with.
To get teenagers involved in community based projects that will aim at teaching them and community members the advantages of eliminating gender discrimination, and to educate young girls in terms of self-respect and in avoiding being treated as inferior parts of the society – that is what my dream is. Taking into consideration that the national high school graduation exam results in the last years barely reached a 50% graduation level, and the fact that today’s high school pupils are tomorrow’s leaders, measures have to be taken in order to create and develop any sense of responsibility for their education and for creating a balanced society. In spite of the economic hardship that Eastern Europe deals with, there’s always hope that more people will feel the same and stand together, working for creating a balanced thriving society.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Madalina Bucheru – She is an experienced Project Manager, with background in journalism and PR. She has been working in the European nonprofit field for the last 8 years, and gained strong experience in Project Reporting and Assessment, Organizational Management, Capacity Building, Community Outreach, Awareness Campaigns, and International Relations. Her favorite activities in the field include writing project and fund raising proposals, implementing projects and developing awareness campaigns, and training volunteers on different topics of high interest for their communities. She is always looking for a nonprofit that knows how to reward its volunteers and value its staff.
Very inspiring, Madalina! I feel strongly that women need to contribute more to co-creating the future of our world. But how can we if we continue to allow our young girls to grow up satisfied to participate as second class citizens?! We face huge social challenges with continuing human suffering if we fail. And in the business world we face I’m ashamed to report that the USA is the 3rd worst country in the world to be a US businesswoman . . . with only 18% of women in senior management in business. The only countries worse are India (14%) and Japan (5%) [2012 statistics – I hope it’s getting better but . . .}. Thank you for writing! – Kimberly
Bravo, Madalina. This is the kind of action and awareness that can help people, not just in Romania (as Kimberly has pointed out), but all over the world. I’m looking forward to learning more.