Authors: Ulziisuren Jamsran (UN Women Special Representative), Lars Thuesen (Welfare Improvement Network Change Leader)
Violence against women is an endemic problem in Moldova, being deeply rooted in the cultural norms and entrenched behaviours. According to the study ‘Violence against Women in the Family” conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics in 2011, 63% of women experienced some form of violence (psychological, physical, sexual, and economic) from their husbands/partners during their lifetime. Rural women, elderly women, Romani women, women with disabilities, HIV positive women reported the highest prevalence rate of multiple forms of violence.
In response to this UN Women has placed a priority attention on the technical interventions/solutions such as support to Government authorities and the civil society organization partners to implement the provision of the Domestic Violence Law (2008) or strengthening legislative framework by further aligning to the international norms and standards and increasing capacity for actual adjudication.
However, the uniqueness of the work lies in adaptive solutions by empowering the survivors of violence from various backgrounds to speak up and advocate for concrete actions with their peers as well as authorities, and media. UN Women and partners have since 2015 jointly identified successful behavioural strategies that help prevent, overcome and tackle violence against women – the so-called positive champions (positive deviants) among women survivors of violence, police officers, social workers, and even former aggressors. In this way, we managed to change the perceptions about the survivors, so they are acknowledged and involved as the key experts in eliminating violence against women at the legislative, policy, institutional and community level initiatives. Moreover, the other actors of the society are mobilized from among youth, religious leaders, former perpetrators, judicial staff, police, artistic community, and others to support these innovative approaches, so that the ‘whole of society’ under the leadership of the survivors of violence can produce long wanted results for women. This is part of the development innovation we have embarked on jointly with the central and local public authorities and the civil society partners, and others who have shown their willingness to act, think and behave differently. For instance, these partners have accepted the survivors of violence as being the key experts, and with this recognition they have adopted concrete changes in their own practices.
Positive Champions and partners marching and demonstrating to end violence against women in Moldova:
The results of application of innovative tools were immediate. During the first 3-4 months the new approach helped over 1000 women in the communities of Moldova to make the first, critical step to get out of the vicious circle of intimate partner violence and seek for services. The result is visible in comparison with the usual approach, which produced 10 times less results. Another example is an establishment of the first ever community level dedicated space to tackle violence against women cases co-funded by the local authorities. These and other evidences are demonstrating the effectiveness of the innovative approaches tested and are informing the development of the new National Strategy to Combat Domestic Violence. Maria Scorodinschi, one of the positive champions, was even selected by the BBC to be one of 100 most influential women in 2017. See this link: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-41380265
Though these results seem great, we are eager to improve and accelerate positive solutions and peer to peer learning even more. Currently, we work in introducing Virtual Reality tools as a means to help strengthen the peer to peers learning processes e.g. with the police academy. The Palestine UN Women country office and partners are currently learning the methodology of this innovative project.
The WIN team including Lars Thuesen is partnering on dissemination and scaling processes, so peers can learn from the champions both in Moldova, within UN agencies and other UN Women country offices. As a part of this process an adaptive leadership approach tailored for development organizations has been developed and is currently being tested. Working with new mental models and tools for adaptive leadership are and has been crucial for the success of creating the space for innovation to happen.
Take a minute to watch this informative video about the Moldovan experience: