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Gender-political situation in Romania


Legal situation:



Brief description and evaluation
Romania’s accession to the European Union also marked the arrival of gender equality in the country’s legislation and constitution. Being imported, these are, however, void of substance. The equal opportunity standards introduced there are important, but, for the most part inadequate. They were implemented in institutions before other necessary regulations on justice and common practice were introduced.

Thus, during Romania‘s period of transformation, men were subject to positive discrimination because they were seen as victims of the transformation, above all from a financial perspective. Even prior to this, they had very exclusive access to resources and were given preferential treatment on the labour market. In contrast, women could only participate in the labour market under difficult social conditions – insurance policies, contracts of employment, etc were very poor. In Romania, the lack of any linkage between performance, earnings and access to resources for women is very evident.

The rather small-scale NGO landscape is striking, and many of them are either unable to or restricted in their work due to a lack of funds. As a result, they also have little influence on governmental policy and lack punch. In turn, the government does have a “roadmap” for gender equality, however, inasmuch that there are institutions and ministries that deal with this issue. They do not do more than what is required of them by the EU, however. Few subsidy pots are “tapped” and cooperation with NGOs is rarely sought. There is also uncertainty as to what role the trade unions play at all or on this issue.

In reality, however, a great deal has occurred in the equality sector in comparison to post-Communist transformed Romania. This is also verified in the UN’s GDI – Gender-related development index, which confirms that Romania has made good progress (high level of human development). However, this is due in particular to the aforementioned poor conditions at the outset of the transformation.

See also Mihaela Miroius contribution in Femina Politca - Zeitschrift für feministische Politikwissenschaft (1/2006): “I refer to the simple import of equal opportunity mechanisms as “costless state feminism”, as a consequence of “room-service” feminist politics. We are living in a very complex society, experiencing a popular if illegitimate post-feminist agenda imposed by the mass media before political feminism could be inspired by second and third wave strategies. At the same time, the Romanian case illustrates the lack of connection between fair competition, merit and outcomes in terms of women's access to resources“

The national strategy for implementing the European year of equal opportunities for all –year 2007: “In Romania, the National Agency for Equal Opportunities between women and men (NAEO) is the central public administrative institution responsible for promoting the principle of equal opportunities between women and men through the elaboration and implementation of gender policies. The Law No. 202/2002 regarding equal opportunities between women and men, republished and amended, establishes the main principles of the activity of NAEO.

The national context shows serious gender segregation on the labour market. This matter is illustrated by the predominance of poorly paid women in comparison with men’s situation. Male population represents more than half of the working population. Health and education represent the feminized activities of the national economy. In 2005, the employment rate of population between 15-64 years old was: for women 51.5% and for men 63.9%; as for the unemployment rate, the data are: for women 6.4% and for men 7.7%. During the year 2005, even though in reality the income of women and men was equal pay for equal work, the gender pay gap in Romania was around 13%. A higher value was registered in the following areas of activity: industry (30%), commerce (23%), education (15%) and health (12%). The result of the analysis proved that there are a higher percentage of women gaining smaller income, than men. The percentage of women who earn an income above the average is 33.1% compared to the 38.9% of men’s. The balance between the working and the personal life represents a key factor in achieving real equal opportunities between women and men. At the end of June 2006, from 189,489 beneficiaries of childcare allowance, only 18% were men, while 35% from the total of 10,583 of persons that received supplementary childcare allowance (for parents going back to work), were men. 86.8% of women were willing to reorganize their professional life in order to create a balance with their personal life, whereas only 78% men were willing to do that. The general elections from 2004 did not bring important changes regarding equal participation of women and men to the political decision process. A low level of women representatives in the parliamentary and governmental structures could still be noticed. From a total of 469 parliamentary seats, women hold only 50 seats (which means 10.66%). In the Deputy Chamber women represent 11.2% from the total number and in the Senate 9.4%. There are 22 ministers in the Government nominated after the 2004 election, from which only 3 women are ministers. Until august 2006 at the ministry level from the total number of employees 51% were women, while 49% were men. From the total number of the leading positions at the ministry level, 62% were men and only 38% women. Women are also poorly represented at the local level of the public administration, considering that over 80% from the leading positions are held by men. The percent of women prefects is 7, women subprefects is 20%, 4 % represents the women mayors and 16% represents the women town counsellors.

The main issues revealed:

  • low level of remuneration in the most feminized sectors;
  • the unequal representation of women and men in the decision-making process on political level;
  • deficiencies at the public administration level in insuring active measures of achieving a real balance between the working and the personal life;
  • existence of sexist stereotypes within the society;
  • low number of the economic activities initiated by women.”

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legal situation

Legal situation

Gender equality law
The EU directives were transposed into national legislation and the country’s constitution before Romania’s accession to the EU. An overview of all the laws can be found in: Alexandra Nemes: “Romanian Legislation and Institutional Framework on the Gender Field” (PDF, 19 pages, 120 KB).

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Anti-discrimination law
The current Anti-Discrimination Act has been adapted to the EU directives. However, according to reports, the Act is not being implemented in full. In June 2006, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women published its final findings of the Sixth Periodic Report of Romania. The Committee urged the agencies and bodies to step up their efforts to effectively enforce the laws against family violence and to ensure that all women who have been victims of violence can immediately take protective measures such as injunctions. The Report also demanded that the country make sure that the women concerned receive immediate access to (financial) compensation, legal aid as well as the provision of a sufficient number of government-funded shelters for battered women. The Committee called on agencies and bodies to do more to combat human trafficking by looking into the root causes and, in particular, addressing the insecure economic situation of women.

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Laws on quotas, above all in the political and economic fields.
Cited deficits:

  • There are no legal provisions regarding the definition of gender mainstreaming.
  • There are no legal provisions regarding the methodology to implement gender mainstreaming into practice.
  • There are no legal provisions on the methodology of monitoring, evaluation, control of the implementing gender mainstreaming.
  • The legal provisions on settlement of notifications, complaints regarding the discrimination based on gender should be revised to create a coherent, integrated and efficient procedure The legal provisions on sanctions regarding the infringement of legislation on equal opportunities should be revised to ensure a high level of prevention.

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Other laws/statutory regulations and government programmes
The National Agecy for Equal Opportunities for Women and Men (ANES) promotes the principle of equal opportunities and treatment for women and men and ensures the active integration of equal opportunities in all national programs and policies

The provisions are included in the status of the National Agency for Equal opportunities for women and men (ANES), approved by the Government on today's meeting.

The ANES activity aims at ensuring the development of a democratic and tolerant society which would allow the participation of all persons, irrespective of gender, to the public life in Romania.

The new status of ANES sets rules with respect to the cooperation with authorities with competences in ensuring the framework necessary to remove the discrimination based on gender criteria, as well as clear procedures which would contribute to the understanding by the Romanian citizens of the rights and obligations incumbent to them.

The endorsed normative act aims at observing and enforcing the provisions in the field with a view to promoting the principle of equal opportunities for women and men and removal of direct and indirect discrimination based on gender criteria.

ANES is under the Labor, Family and Equal Opportunities Ministry's authority, it is financed from state budget and it can benefit of donations, sponsorship and refundable and non- refundable external funds.

ANES elaborates and enforces the Government's strategies and policies in the field of equal opportunities, in tune with the EU regulations in the field.

The main tasks of ANES can be found by following the above link.

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Current political discourse
The majority of programmes for enforcing gender equality at national and regional level were initiated by 2007, i.e. prior to Romania’s accession to the EU. Few measures can be discerned after this time. The main focus of political discussions relating to equal opportunities is on family policy and combating domestic violence, for which a major campaign was last conducted in 2007. 

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General situation
The posts in ministries and party executive committees are held exclusively by men. Though limited, this state of affairs nevertheless allows conclusions to be drawn on the political participation of women in Romania’s parliamentary system. They appear to be under-represented, even though gender equality policy is found on, among other things, the intervention of women members of parliament. (see account)

These days, the political enforcement of gender mainstreaming and/or gender equality is pursued on the labour market at the utmost, which is very much in the spirit of the Treaty of Lisbon, but, to the observer, it is also only done half-heartedly. There is a perception that government factionalism, unemployment and election campaigns (most recently in 2009) attract all the attention thus resulting in the equality issue very quickly falling by the wayside again.

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NGOs: political parties, civil society organisations
The Romanian Society For Feminist Analyses / ANA existed in the 1990s. This is no longer active and the actors are difficult to trace.

There is a Yahoo Newsgroup that posts current news on gender (above all with an academic focus, but solely for people who understand Romanian): "Communication tool for young academics involved in gender studies, who share the same experiences, projects and hopes." The Newsgroup resulted from the Gender Romania initiative, which unfortunately no longer exists.

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Individual actors

  • Mihaela Frunza: mihafrunza at yahoo dot com
  • Theodora Vacarescu
  • Laura Grünberg: grunberg at gmail dot com (President of the Romanian Society for Feminist Analyses)
  • Livia Popescu: lipopescu at artelecom dot net

Romania has outstanding academics/scientists and actors in the field of gender/gender equality. They need to be located in person, however. There are no extensive platforms.

Equal Opportunities For Women Foundation
Impacarii nr. 17
bl. 913, tronson 1, et. 1, ap. 3,
700731 IASI
Phone/Fax: +40 32 211 713
E-mail: sef at sef dot ro
Contact Persons: Dina Loghin: dina at sef dot ro and Ioana Madalina Popa: madalina.popa at sef dot ro

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Government, ministries
ANES – National Agency for Equal Opportunities for Women and Men:
Commenced its work in 2005 within the Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Protection. The ministry’s website is in Romanian, with a rudimentary version available in English. The Agency’s website is only in Romanian. It is comprehensive and informative.

“The National Agency for Equal Opportunities for Women and Men (ANES) promotes the principle of equal opportunities and treatment for women and men and ensures the active integration of equal opportunities in all national programs and policies. (…) The ANES activity aims at ensuring the development of a democratic and tolerant society which would allow the participation of all persons, irrespective of gender, to the public life in Romania. The main responsibilities of ANES are the following:

  • elaborates the yearly thematic of studies, researches, analyses on equal opportunities and treatment for women and men, with a view to removing the discrimination on grounds of gender;
  • promotes programs, puts forward and implement international cooperation projects in the field of equal opportunities for women and men, Romania is part of, as well as the overall community regulations;
  • develops relations with similar bodies in its activity field from other countries; participates in the elaboration of the themes of curricula instruments of instructive  – educative, training services suppliers, authorized according to law;
  • advises, coordinates and checks the enforcement of legal provisions by the specific structures, with responsibilities in the equal opportunities field from the institutions under MMFES authority;
  • organizes professional training courses in the field of enforcing equal opportunities and treatment principle, for civil servants and employees of public or private institutions and bodies;
  • At the request of discriminated persons, ANES can take legal actions and can assist these persons within administrative procedures;
  • Receives the complaints, notifications put forward by persons discriminated on grounds of gender and send them to the competent authorities with a view to their solving and enforcing sanction;
  • Coordinates the activity of current departments at territorial level;
  • Ensures the efficient use of funds destined to activity, the structural funds for supporting equal opportunities included;
  • At territorial level, in each county and Bucharest municipality, ANES sets up units, without legal personality. The expenditure necessary to the functioning of these units is covered through the county and Bucharest labor and social protection directorates and are defrayed by ANES until 20 of the current month for the previous month;
  • 156 persons perform their activity within ANES, among whom, civil servants, and contractual personnel, 30 at central level and 126 at territorial level. The agency personnel responsibilities are set through the ANES organization and functioning regulations, to be elaborated within 30days since the entering into force of the decision.

The Agency is run by a president, assisted by a secretary general, high ranking civil servant. The operative leadership of ANES activity is exercised by two directors. The ANES president cooperates with central and local authorities, education and research institutions, NGOs in the field. ANES yearly makes public the report on its own activity.” 

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Gender studies are, of course, offered in Romania and have been for quite some time. There are three faculties in this field, in part integrated into European Studies, and all of them offer well-maintained websites (Their English versions are very basic, however).

Gen şi oportunităţi egale - Gender And Equal Opportunities
Masterat la Facultatea de Ştiinţe Politice
Administrative şi ale Comunicării
Universitatea Babeş-Bolyai, Cluj
Sediul Centrului de Studii de Gen
Str. Croitorilor nr. 13
gender_cluj at yahoo dot com

Prezentarea Universitatea De Vest Din Timisoara -Centrul Interdisciplinar De Studii De Gen
(University Of The West Timisoara - The Interdisciplinary Center Of Gender Studies):
Gender Studies is offered at the university in Temesvár. They organise nationally established conferences and publish many articles on the subject of gender.

B-dul Vasile Pârvan, nr. 2-4
Timisoara (300223), Romania
Phone: +40 256 45-224
Fax: +40 256 45-224
E-mail: genderstudies at rectorat dot uvt dot ro

Centrul De Studii De Gen - Universitatea Babes-Bolyai Cluj-Napoca:
The Center for Gender Studies aims to professionalize the teaching and research capacity on gender in Romania and at the Babes-Bolyai University in particular, to integrate its activities into international networks, and to build up collaborative relations with social institutions and movements, which militate for equal opportunities. The Center also organises numerous conferences. It offers a very extensive range of highly diverse courses.

A wholly new course of study is Gender Research And Equal Opportunities
Str. Croitorilor nr. 13
Cluj-Napoca, Romania
E-mail: gender_cluj at yahoo dot com
Contact person: Eniko Magyari-Vincze, director
E-mail:_eni_personal at yahoo dot com
Phone: 0740-137561)
and Viorela Ducu, documentarist (fviorela at yahoo dot com)

Information is also available from the Centrul de Dezvoltare Curriculara si Studii de Gen: FILIA in Bucharest:
This website is also in Romanian and provides a number of links to cooperation partners in the area of NGOs and government – here, too unfortunately, it transpires than many of the initiatives – and consequently also their websites – no longer exist.

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Description of state of source material:
It is not easy to track down information of relevance to the topic. Only after entering the names of individual gender actors in search engines is it possible to locate the institutions they work for (see also under Individual actors above). The websites only offer a very pared-down version in English; much more is available if you have a command of French. The information provided by the government yields very little and the websites of many NGOs have not been updated in years – for lack of funds (the structures are floundering).

Citing of relevant sources:
Sources are referenced as they occur in the respective text.

A further useful website is Overview On Gender Equality Issues In Romania (in English, last updated in 2006).

The website of the United Nations Development Programme contains information on government policy statements and laws relating to “Romania”.

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This study was conducted by Tanja Berger und Pamela Dorsch and comissioned by the Gunda Werner Institute of the Heinrich Böll Foundation in 2010.

All images, except marked otherwise Public Domain CC0