From where I stand: “Women are strong; they can achieve anything they want”


 Irina Cebanenco is a Ukrainian refugee from Odessa. She is a mother who organizes events for other mothers and their children in the city of Balti, in the Republic of Moldova, where she now lives. Supported by UN Women and financed by the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund, Irina provides a space for refugee and local mothers and their children to engage at the AO Gender Centru. She also helps other refugees to understand important information about the refugee response

Irina Cebanenco
Members of the Women Leaders Academy for Peace developing a community project aimed at vulnerable women, with Irina Cebanenco on the far right.
Photo credit: Doina Chiosa/Gender-Centru

“On the 13th day of the war in Ukraine, I realized that I could no longer stay. I took my child and fled to the nearest country, which turned out to be Moldova. After a month of being here, I realized that I couldn't just sit back. I wanted to help my fellow citizens, so I started volunteering. I went to trainings, I began learning how to write project proposals, how to help people, and learning to understand the laws of Moldova. And from this, I got the idea to write a project to help refugees.

When you have a goal, you will push through anything and overcome all barriers – both language issues and the fact that you do not know the laws of the country. If you want to, you will learn everything. That is probably the most important thing. I really want the war to end as soon as possible, but I also really want to give Ukrainian refugees the opportunity to feel at home in this country, at least a little bit. So that sometimes, they can hug someone and say: ‘Thank you for being with me, my friend’.

Most of all, I want all of us to have peace in our souls and for there to be peace all over the world. Let there always be peace in our soul, in our heads, and in our lives. The rest is all aspirations. The main thing is to strive for something. You can do anything you set your mind to. Women are strong; they can achieve anything they want.”

SDG 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions

Through her participation in the Women Leaders Academy for Peace, organized by AO Gender Centru, Irina Cebanenco was offered a small grant to build peace in her own locality. Her project aims to promote social cohesion and support other refugees during their time in Moldova. Her efforts reflect the importance of including women in the design and implementation of local peacebuilding initiatives to fulfil the vision of Sustainable Development Goal 16, which aims to build peaceful and inclusive societies.