This Women’s History Month, we’re sharing the stories of remarkable women who are part of the global movement to end the use of orphanages for good by strengthening and supporting families.
Today we hear from Liliana Rotaru, CEO of CCF Moldova, our partner organisation, who shares her views on being a female leader, her biggest achievements and the crucial importance of listening to women’s voices when implementing childcare reform.
What year did you join Hope and Homes for Children?
I joined Hope and Homes for Children in 2005 when Hope and Homes for Children and CCF Moldova, where I’m CEO, started a strategic partnership.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you, as a leader of an organisation working to ensure every child has a safe family home in Moldova?
While supporting families to look after their children in a loving and nurturing environment, I have noticed that most families are relying on women to care for the family, look after them and solve problems. It’s even truer in the case of single mothers.
I have witnessed what a woman’s love and courage can do for a child. Even when all circumstances are unfavourable, most mothers will fight till the end for their children.
When the women feel “it’s them against the world”, we are proud and privileged to be in their corner.
A strong and loving woman in every child’s life (and sometimes it’s an aunt or a granny or a foster carer) can change that life by bringing into it hope and light.
What is your biggest achievement or proudest moment as a leader since you joined HHC? How did this make you feel?
My colleagues, who work directly with families in Moldova have many of these moments.
I remember a single mum whose two young children were taken to an institution for babies while she was working abroad.
When she came home, she could not get her children back as she did not have a place to live or a job with sufficient income. She was also illiterate.
It was a vicious circle as she lost her mum as a child, and was placed from family to family. She felt unloved, and not wanted.
We met with her and, after some time, we were able to buy her a small house. I have never met a person so proud of her little house – it was clean, smelled fresh and had used but washed and ironed curtains on windows.
Her children were back with her and they celebrated her 6-year-old girl’s birthday for the first time.
She said she is going to learn to read so she could help her children do well in school. She had dreams for her children to become a nurse and the village mayor and she knew they needed to stay in school. I was most impressed when she said that when she will receive her first salary, she plans to help a family in need just as she was helped and supported.
Why is it important that women’s voices are included in decision-making around childcare reform in Moldova?
Both men and women have a voice, a unique experience and a perspective on childcare reform. The more diverse and complementary these opinions are, the better childcare we are going to have in Moldova. The social work field in Moldova is mostly represented by women. However, more decision-makers are men than women.
How do community services and access to childcare help break the glass ceiling for women in Moldova?
Education and skills development, awareness, actions to develop daycare and free daycare for single mums. An example of this best practice is the social nursery concept that we have been promoting since 2011.
Women should have access to leadership skills, grants, entrepreneurial skills development, coaching and mentoring, day care services and financial services.
Employability skills and income-generating activities for women reduce the risks of gender-based violence and poverty. We need to do more of these to help break the glass ceiling.
What message or words of encouragement do you have for aspiring women wanting to make positive change in the world?
I encourage all women who are able to fight to change the problems they see in the world – to start working for that change and start mobilizing support. Especially now, in the digital era, it can be fast, cheap and easy and BE THE CHANGE.
Dr Liliana Rotaru is the Director of Children, Communities and Families (CCF). She was awarded the 2020-21 United Nations General Award for Outstanding Human Rights Achievement at national level in Moldova.