Diana Crudu: If tomorrow women refuse to harvest, to tie the grapevines, to milk, the entire agriculture of the Republic of Moldova will be paralyzed

Almost all over the world, agriculture is associated primarily with women. According to global reports published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the majority of women from developing countries, directly involved in the economic environment, are agricultural workers. However, even though women represent the majority, at the global level, they face systemic gender-based obstacles which limit their opportunities to start their own business, disadvantaging them in comparison with men.

Date: Thursday, April 22, 2021

Diana Crudu 

Diana Crudu. Source: Personal Archive

This may be noticed in the Republic of Moldova, where women from rural areas are one of the most affected groups in terms of economic condition. According to national research, conducted in 2016, women are the most susceptible to changes produced in economic and social fields, being directly influenced by systemic inequalities encouraging men. Nevertheless, they show resilience and ambitions in promoting gender equality and fighting for the creation of a prosperous economic environment both for girls and women, as well as for other citizens of the country. One of these women is Diana Crudu.

The entrepreneur decided to come back to the Republic of Moldova after having completed her studies abroad in Romania, the Netherlands and the United States. Her decision was influenced by several factors, one of them being the interest to engage in a family business managed by her parents. Being a specialist in economics, she decided to give one more commitment, working with her mother in the vineyard owned by her parents: „I used to offer my support for the things I am good at. Harvesting, tying, all processes women were being involved directly (...) Since 1940, in our family no man was born, all men came to our family via marriage. I did not feel the difference. It is like being unable to drive a car. I haven’t thought like that. I knew that at the age of 18 I had to obtain my driving license if I had to drive a tractor. If we have to learn about the chemical composition of sprinkling, although we have no idea about it, we will learn about it, even though we make mistakes”, Diana says.

This experience, along with the fact that the economic market of the Republic of Moldova got oversaturated by vine, made Diana reexamine the situation of women agricultural entrepreneurs and their needs. „I was frustrated because although my mother used to produce nice and qualitative vine, at some point, the market got oversaturated. We used to sell grape for 5 – 6 lei, while on the European market it cost 1 Euro”, Crudu mentioned.

This situation persisted, and in 2018 Diana decided to encourage people to buy more fruit and show solidarity towards the women and men who are working in the agricultural sector. „I was happy to see that people were mobilized and, in 3 weeks, I sold 60 tons of grapes. I finally saw my mother sleeping after several months of sleep deprivation. But still, it is hard for women to enter the agricultural market of the Republic of Moldova, they face many challenges in this field. More than 50% of Moldovan agricultural workers are women. If tomorrow they refuse to harvest, to tie, to milk, the entire agriculture of the Republic of Moldova will be paralyzed”, Diana Crudu added.

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Doina Grati, entrepreneur, holder of a plum orchard. Source: agroexpert.md

To establish an equal balance between men and women in agriculture, Diana mobilizes more women to become active, to hold leadership positions and to share work done by women with their male partners. As the majority of business owners are men, Diana believes that it is very important for more and more women to realize that they may get support if creating initiative and support groups to start and develop business in Moldova. This can be also achieved by organizing fairs and events, where women entrepreneurs would be the priority. “We were 8 people at the first event, 7 of us being women and 1 being a man. Not so many people believed that this event would be a successful one but I believed that people would be willing to support local producers. I have organized events in Chisinau as well, in the city center. In 2019, I have organized a fair of sweet gifts for women. Subsequently, I have organized a series of events where I helped berry growers sell lots of tons of berries, without throwing anything”, Diana mentioned.

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Liza Mamaliga, beekeeper. Participant in the social entrepreneurship program „Dulce Plai”. Source: Madein.md

In 2021, Diana Crudu, together with other women entrepreneurs, managed to organize a fair, involving 75 people. The fair has been organized respecting all protective measures and social distancing. During the fair, several police crews were monitoring the event in the context of the pandemic. Diana says „We gathered 75 local producers, 95% of them being women. Moreover, we received 15 thousand lei from the National Farmers’ Federation. Also, we managed to create a catalogue of women producers. It is not the biggest victory but I believe that if today I do something good, maybe it will inspire other people to do something good in their communities”.

After all, the experience gained by Diana and efforts made by her in organizing these events, made her understand an important factor that hardens the activities carried out by women entrepreneurs in the Republic of Moldova. This is the lack of digital education, which is important especially in the context of a COVID-19 world. „I noticed that people from the region do not have a good understanding of digital tools which could help them promote their products. There’s a need for education in this context - how to promote your products. This is what small businesses managed by Moldovan women miss. I try to help them in any way I can”, the entrepreneur mentioned.

Svetlana Nitoreanu
Svetlana Nițoreanu, entrepreneur, holder of a hazelnut orchard. Source: EcoLocal

In March 2021, UN Women celebrated women leaders from their communities and women who manage to encourage exponential growth of women’s engagement in social, economic and political life. This happened in the context of the International Women’s Day in 2021, under the theme „Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future for all in a COVID-19 world”, celebrating tremendous efforts made by girls and women all over the world during the pandemic but also the Generation Equality Forum organized during 29-31 March.