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Uniting for equal rights in Moldova  

Issues Affecting Women Programme / Partner story

Photos provided by the National Coalition for a Life without Violence 

A decade ago, there was little organised support in Moldova for survivors of domestic violence and trafficking, despite both issues being widespread in the country. 

The National Bureau of Statistics of the Republic of Moldova, with the support of various United Nations agencies, published a report in 2011 that found that 6 out of 10 women in Moldova aged 15 or older had experienced physical, psychological, or sexual violence from an intimate partner over their lifetimes. It is known that women and girls fleeing violent situations in their homes are more vulnerable to sexual exploitation and trafficking. To compound the problem, the legal protection of the thousands of women fleeing domestic violence situations in Moldova, was, at that time, weak and unevenly enforced. 

It was against this backdrop that a group of small but determined women’s rights groups in Moldova were working to provide women fleeing violence with a viable alternative. To this end, in 2012, 12 women’s groups and organisations in Moldova formed the National Coalition for a Life without Violence. Its mission? To reduce gender-based violence – and to grow society’s awareness of the need to do so. Together the Coalition set out to improve services for women and their children, and to advocate for greater protection from violence through national commitments, funding, and legislation.  

Maria Scorodinschi from the town of Drochia in the north of Moldova, is just one of many women involved in the movement. Having experienced domestic violence herself, she seeks to encourage women across Moldova to choose a life without violence. To this end, she supports and inspires other women survivors to seek help. She told the coalition: “I realised how much time I wasted and how much my children suffered and I decided to help other women by my example. I talk to women about domestic violence, about their rights… After hearing my story, they trusted me, told me their stories, and reached out to the police or support organisations.” 
Since its foundation, the Coalition has grown and strengthened to a network of 21 not-for-profit organisations. They collaborate to support survivors of gender-based and domestic violence, providing everything from shelter and rehabilitation to legal and psychological support and economic empowerment services. 

A major milestone for Life Without Violence came in 2021, when its efforts helped lead to the Moldovan Parliament ratifying the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. The convention was a major victory for women’s rights. It requires the government to adopt or improve legislation on matters such as rape, sexual harassment, oppression, and forced marriage. It will become the basis for Moldova’s national strategy to combat violence against women. 

In addition, thanks to the work of the coalition, there are more services, better standards and support for women and their children facing domestic violence across Moldova, and violence is considered a topic of high importance in society. One example is a national helpline – The Trust Line for Women and Girls – originally set up and run by a coalition member, which is now a state-run public service. 

“Despite our difficult mission, we are united. We believe in equal rights for all,” says the director of the Coalition, Veronica Teleuca. “The trust we’ve built through years of working together has created a powerful force for change. We’re proud to be providing better services for women and families in Moldova. And by continuing to raise awareness of gender-based violence, we can create a society where it is not simply normalised and justified – in the home, or anywhere else.” 

Oak Foundation supports the National Coalition for a Life without Violence as well as nine of its member organisations as part of our Issues Affecting Women Programme (IAWP). We believe that all women and girls should be safe, free and have an equal chance to thrive and we find inspiration and hope in strong and vibrant movements, built and led by women, which are transforming lives and communities across the world. We provide flexible, long-term support and capacity development to women-led, rights-based organisations worldwide. Read more about IAWP’s strategy here