Gender inequality in Romania is a worrying issue. In 2019, the country ranked 25th on the Gender Equality Index in Europe. With a score much lower than the European Union’s average, it is time to address a topic that has crippled women all across Romania, taking a special toll on women who live in rural areas, such as Sacueni. In terms of inequality, the situation is highly aggravated when it comes to women’s economic empowerment. According to the European Institute for Gender Equality, the gender gaps in participation and segregation in the labour market endure, and women still earn 5% less compared to men.
Opportunities of employment and gender roles are still a problem that need to be taken care of. Sacueni is no exception. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), an urgent push for action for all countries, consider the fight for Gender Equality a must in the current context.
Administration and community leaders should take some pages out of the United Nations’s SDGs and start working towards the completion of this goal. By doing so, Sacueni would not just be developing its social fabric but it would be fostering economic development.
Through the testimonial of five Sacuenian women from five different generations, the general feeling is that, regardless, women are underrepresented, undervalued and lack the opportunities to fulfil their rights. Traditional roles keep tying women to household and family care chores, impeding their development and full integration into the labour market. Thus, there is a lot of work to be done. First and foremost, women in Sacueni need to be recognized. Value has to be put into their contributions.
Through respect and dignity it will be possible to discuss and negotiate more egalitarian distributions of the benefits of growth, on all levels. By empowering women in the economic sphere, the town would be gaining a healthier and more ambitious network of workers, giving women access to resources and favourable circumstances, such as jobs, financial services and additional productive goods or the development of skills, among many others. This is like a positive spiral that feeds itself. If women are given the opportunity to participate in the economic arena, they automatically become empowered, strengthening their rights and enabling them to have control over their lives and exercise this new-found influence in society.
A complicated matter to consider is maternity. Authorities need to ensure parity and consider various realities while drafting policies. It is crucial to give women access to maternity protection and systems allowing mothers to balance work and family responsibilities. These are fundamental to boost gender equality and safeguard decent opportunities for women in Sacueni. As mentioned before, the SDGs have to serve as a solid ground from which to build a more inclusive and mindful society. Fighting discrimination against women and actually living up to the expectations and thresholds of gener equality should be a priority.
It is an effort that has to begin in the self, and from there move on to motivate and conceive positive change at the community level. Sacueni needs to understand the importance of empowering women. Women are key agents for accomplishing and attaining great things. The transformation of economic, environmental and social changes comes hand in hand with the recognition and development of women. Promote their roles, value their work and, above all, respect their dignity; because as Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General, said: “there is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women”.