Photo essay: Life for Stela Savin, a Roma girl challenging gender stereotypes in Moldova
Date: Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Stela Savin attends the eighth grade in Hînceşti, central Moldova, and her dream is to become a world boxing champion. She comes from a Roma family where she is the fifth of seven siblings. Her two older sisters had engaged in several sports themselves when they were younger but had to stop when they got married.
“I fell in love with sports as a kid. My brothers trained and I did not want to just look. I wanted to do the same.”
After two years of training, Stela participated in regional boxing competitions and won a few medals. Her trainer and her family are big supporters.
“I am honouring our Roma traditions. I am never going to abandon them. However, I don’t want to leave school and training and get married. I have a dream and I am going to do all I can to make it happen. I don’t know why girls think they can’t do the same as boys do?”
Traditionally, Roma girls in Moldova tend to get married and start families early in life. Many cut their education short and leave school to start a family. Often it is taken for granted that at a very young age they will marry the man their family has chosen for them. Stela respects her family and works hard, but in return she asked their support for her own life choices. Luckily, she got their full support.
A 2014 UN study indicates that Roma women and girls are one of the most disempowered groups in Moldova, at the intersection of gender discrimination, racism, class and other systems of discrimination and exclusion. Roma women and girls across the country still face inequality in social, economic and political life.
Stela’s story was collected by Elena Sirbu (center), a journalist of Roma origins, in her new series on inspirational Roma women. Funded by UN Women in Moldova, the project seeks to collect and disseminate real life-stories of Roma women and girls from different walks of life, with a strong will to follow their dreams. Elena travels around the country to record their stories and collect them in a special newsletter and blog.
“UN Women has supported Roma women in Moldova since 2011. The UN Joint Program Women in Politics, with the support of the Government of Sweden, encouraged Roma women to participate to the vote in 2015 and helped the first Roma women to be elected to local councils,” says Ulziisuren Jamsran, UN Women Country Representative. “By collecting stories of strong Roma women and girls across the country, we aim to make Roma women more visible on Moldovan media, breaking traditional stereotypes. For women to count, they need to be visible – and especially their rights need to come to the forefront.”
Credit for all photos: UN Women Moldova/Diana Savina
Gender Stereotypes Essay
1334 Words6 Pages
Since the beginning of time, gender has played a big role in how one acts and how one is looked upon in society. From a young age children are taught to be either feminine or masculine. Why is it that gender plays a big role in the characteristics that one beholds? For centuries in many countries it has been installed in individual’s heads that they have to live by certain stereotypes. Women have been taught to be feeble to men and depend on them for social and economical happiness. While men have been taught to be mucho characters that have take care of their homes and be the superior individual to a woman. For the individuals who dare to be different and choose to form their own identity whether man or woman, they are out casted and…show more content…
It is unfair that literature teaches women to be such things, it teaches women “To become women nurses rather than doctor, secretaries rather than attorneys or corporate executives, sex symbols rather than thinkers, elementary school teachers rather than university professors.” (Feminist Criticism 1132)
In Jamaica Kincaid’s fiction short story “Girl” a mother is teaching her young daughter on how to society wants her to act as a female. She is teaching the young girl not to form her own identity and beliefs but to live by how others want her to live. The mother gives the daughter several rules to live by and suggests that if she doesn’t live by these rules she will become a slut. The setting of this story seems to take place in a Caribbean island. This shows that no matter what a female culture is, she is taught the same things like the rest of the world. The mother tells the daughter “This is how you iron your fathers khaki shirt so that they don’t have a crease; this is how you iron your fathers pants so that they don’t have a crease.” (Jamaica Kincaid 566) The mother is not teaching the daughter how to survive as an individual but how to survive and be accepted by a community that is more than likely ruled by men. Even though women have been oppressed for many years in many cultures, there are