Ungheni event focuses on "UNITE to eliminate violence against women and girls!"
To commemorate 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, UN Women Moldova and its partners held a roundtable in Ungheni, bringing together representatives of local public authorities and the government, international communities, survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) and local residents.
The event began with a show of living statues and an emotional theatre performance about women subjected to violence. Titled "Love Does Not Hurt" the performance walked the audience through a shocking story that featured a positive ending, meant to show victims that they are not alone and can receive help. The event continued with a roundtable called "UNITE to eliminate violence against women and girls!" in which the participants talked about previous actions and future plans to prevent and eradicate GBV, including at the community level.
Among the event’s hosts, the Vice President of Ungheni district, Tatiana Lazăr, spoke about efforts made at the local level to prevent and combat violence against women and girls. "In Ungheni, a lot of work has been done on this issue and 12 communities in our district are actively involved in promoting a society without violence,” she said. “These communities have signed the European Charter on Equality Between Women and Men in Local Life. At the same time, the Ungheni District Council signed a memorandum with the EVA project and received support to open a specialised service within the district hospital". Lazăr called on all Moldovan citizens to create change: "The phenomenon of violence exists in the world and in our country, and only by uniting in a common goal can we stop this phenomenon".
Dionisie Ternovschi, the Deputy Mayor of Ungheni municipality, discussed the EVA project’s impact in the community. "Thanks to the EVA project, we understood what we needed to do to fight violence – to take into account the gender dimension and work in the interests of women and men of all ages," he said. "Our multidisciplinary teams have begun to work as a whole. In this way, things are resolved more quickly and victims feel safe and supported by us".
Felicia Bechtoldt, State Secretary of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, discussed the importance of economically empowering survivors. "Together with UN Women and UNICEF, we have carried out several actions, including the EVA Project. I want to highlight the importance of socio-economic inclusion of women who survive violence, a process tested and piloted here in Ungheni and Cahul,” she said. “A recent study visit showed us how social assistance divisions and employment subdivisions could cooperate to help victims of domestic violence in socio-economic rehabilitation”.
Among the guests of honour at the event, H.E. Janis Mazeiks, Ambassador of the European Union Delegation to the Republic of Moldova, spoke about measures taken by the European Union and development partners to promote gender equality and prevent and combat violence in the Republic of Moldova. "The European Union is close to survivors of violence and, through our initiatives, we are helping women generate income and reduce risk factors, such as poverty, inequalities and unemployment," he said. "Starting in 2023, the EVA project in Ungheni will feature a specialised service for women and girls who are victims of sexual violence. I want all partners to join efforts to make this service start operating as soon as possible".
Dominika Stojanoska, UN Women Moldova’s Country Representative, underscored the need for this new service in the district hospital. "The inauguration of Ungheni’s specialised service for victims of sexual violence is the result of a process of co-creation and drafting, through joint efforts, to implement the standards and protocols necessary to help victims of violence,” she said, emphasising that this process involves the central and local authorities, specialists and representatives of civil society. “If we do not have a complex and comprehensive approach, then more and more women, girls and children will suffer,” she said. “Violence has been a norm for far too long, so it will take us longer to prove that violence is a crime".
Maha Damaj, UNICEF Moldova’s Country Representative, said that the EVA project opens up the possibility of developing similar initiatives. “We have the opportunity to create models, evaluate them, test them and see how well they work so that afterwards, we can replicate them across the country,” she said. “Even if the EVA project is completed, we are committed to continuing to work on these dimensions, together with our partners, UN agencies, ministries and local authorities".
During the event, separate discussion panels also took place on specialised assistance services for victims and the prevention of GBV through the economic empowerment of survivors. At the end, the hosts and guests of the event went to the field and visited the specialised service for victims of sexual violence, which is in the final stage of completion.
The "EVA Project - Promoting gender equality in Cahul and Ungheni districts" is funded by the European Union and implemented by UN Women Moldova in partnership with UNICEF Moldova.