News

‘Our parents think that we have these discussions at school, while teachers think we have them at home’

26 April 2019

Reproductive rights and women’s aspirations evolved a lot over generations, but some stereotypes regarding women’s role in the society, sexual education at home and at school, family planning are still relevant.

These conclusions were reached by tens of young people and adults who participated in a public discussion entitled ‘Mothers and Daughters: Rights and Aspirations over Time’, held at the Ungheni District Youth Center. The event was organised by UNFPA Moldova on the occasion of launching the State of World Population 2019 Global Report.  The story of a family from Moldova having four generations of women was presented at the event: 101 year-old great-grandmother, grandmother, mother and 11 year-old great-granddaughter. Having considered the opinions of these women, the participants in the discussions analysed the evolution over time of perceptions and attitudes to the role of women and girls in the society and their opportunity to decide about their future.

 

‘Many People Believe That Women Have to Be Housekeepers’

 

Neli Nantoi is a 9 grader at ‘Ion Creanga’ Theoretical High School from Ungheni who also volunteers at the Youth Center from Ungheni. ‘The conclusion I came to is that many stereotypes disappeared and that the social mindset developed. However, many women’ and girls’ rights are still violated. There are people who still believe that we are supposed to stay at home, in the kitchen. Even in my class there are boys who think this exact way – that women’s fate is only to give birth to children and bring them up’, she said.

 

Mihail Gornea, a 17 year-old teenager, pupil at ‘Mihai Eminescu’ Theoretical High School from Orhei, believes that things can change through education. ‘Stereotypes can be broken by clear and credible explanations of professionals in this area. Both girls and boys have to be involved in such discussions in order to understand that taking equal roles is a win-win situation’.

 

Health Education – a Topic that is Still Taboo

 

According to Elena Donic, a member of Cioropcani Health Center staff, women have become able to enjoy more rights over the last 50 years, including in terms of reproductive health. However, one of the issues persisting in the last years is the large number of teenage pregnancies. ‘The explanation is very simple. Nowadays teenagers are left in the care of grandparents, because their parents are abroad for work, but they are not supervised.’

 

However, young people say that this is happening because there’s no health education at home or at school, as this is regarded as a taboo topic. ‘Our parents think that we have these discussions at school, while teachers think we have them at home. As a result, young people often remain unaware’, said 17 year-old Nicolina Melnic.

 

Men and Women can Decide Together on Family Planning

 

Another participant in discussions, Cristina Bejenaru, independent consultant in international relations, believes that the changes of mindsets are felt in terms of reproductive and economic rights of women and men. ‘Nowadays, both women and men have the right to choose their life path and can decide together on their family planning and career development. I am aware of a large number of cases where the man was the one who chose to take paternity leave in order to let the woman graduate the university or make a career’.

At the same time, stereotypes about the women’s role still exist especially in rural areas, Cristina believes. ‘It takes a lot of hard work and education to overthrow these old-fashioned ideas that women cannot make decisions about their body and life’.

 

Reproductive Health and Rights – an Unaccomplished Agenda

 

The State of World Population 2019 Report is dedicated to women’s reproductive rights and health in the last decades, on the occasion of the UNFPA’s 50th anniversary and of the 25th anniversary of the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). In this context, Rita Columbia, UNFPA Representative in Moldova, mentioned that a lot of progress was made over the last years. Maternal mortality decreased, access to modern contraceptive methods increased, women became more independent. Progress was not equal for all though. Vulnerable people, including young people, are still affected.

 

‘We believe that health education must be taught in every school. Young people need to be involved in after-school activities to learn who they are and to develop free of stereotypes and prejudice. This is the only way in which we can ensure the full realization of their rights and choices’, Rita Columbia said.