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Finding a common language in the fight against violence against women

Note: This post spotlights the strength and courage of women of Moldova in honor of Peace Corps’ “Sharing Culture from Around the World” Day.

Peace Corps volunteers typically put a great deal of emphasis on their ability to learn the local language and integrate into the local culture. As a rather loquacious individual, learning Romanian came easy to me, but understanding and accepting some of the cultural nuances in Moldova was more difficult for me, especially as it related to traditional gender roles.

After a three month training period, I found myself working at a domestic violence center in the capital, Chisinau. The NGO ‘Association against Domestic Violence – Casa Marioarei’ requested the help of a Peace Corps volunteer after losing funding and keeping the shelter open for over a year on the backs of volunteers. I began my assignment with Casa Marioarei by trying to understand before trying to be understood. After the first several months, I started to realize that my colleagues and I were able to speak the same language. The universality of domestic violence brought us together in the same fight that is being fought around the world.

Although our ideas about feminism might be different, it was evident early on that these women were driven by their fundamental belief in women’s rights. They founded the Association in 2000, with the support of the former First Lady, Antonina Lucinschi, and raised enough money locally to repair an old kindergarten to serve as the ...