A heroine from Moldova: ‘I am inspired by all the strong women in the community’
Silvia Feraru builds bridges and breaks stereotypes for a living. An interview with a highly motivated mediator for the Roma community in Moldova.
Unemployment is high in the Republic of Moldova, and many Moldovans struggle to earn a steady income. Finding a job is particularly difficult for ethnic minorities like the Roma, leaving many of them at risk of falling into poverty. With the support of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, mediators are helping Roma communities to apply for a job or start their own business. In an interview for International Women’s Day, Silvia Feraru speaks of her struggles and successes as a Roma mediator in Moldova.
Why did you decide to become a mediator?
The main reason was the injustice I felt as a child. Nobody spoke with us about discrimination when I was young, but everyone around us had prejudices against Roma people. These circumstances made me stronger, more determined in life. At the same time, I wanted to change something so that my children would not face this discrimination.
What forms of discrimination do Roma people face and how do mediators deal with them?
Roma face discrimination in many areas, perhaps the most prominent being employment. The problem is twofold: on the one hand, employers have negative perceptions of the Roma. On the other, Roma people have a low level of education and cannot aspire to well-paid jobs. We also see little knowledge about how to apply for a job as well as impatience in the community when it comes to professional development.
With the help of GIZ, mediators receive training and inspiration on how to address these issues. For example, we learned how to present ourselves to potential employers. I then passed on this knowledge to even the most remote villages and communities. With the support of the project, we linked up with several state institutions, and they continue to offer us support.
Can you see that your work is succeeding?
In my village of Carpineni, the Roma traditionally repair roofs and work in construction. With the help of the project, they have been able to register their businesses and receive financial support. Today, Roma people are aiming to become entrepreneurs. They have learned from the mediators.
You are a role model for your community. Who is your inspiration?
I am inspired by all the women in the community who are strong and break down prejudices. I’m not inspired by a single woman or a celebrity.
What does 8 March mean to you?
I dedicate this day to my mother, a most special and powerful woman. On this day I will go to the cemetery to bring her flowers and pay tribute. I am sad that my mother cannot see me today, how strong I have become and how strong Roma women can be. I think of her with every success I achieve in my professional and personal life.