Daniela Serban is one of Romania’s trailblazers when it comes to women’s empowerment. She is a journalist, an entrepreneur, and the founder of VERTIK for the Future think tank, looking to further women’s participation in all relevant area of the economy, politics, and society in general. We had a quick chat with her on where Romania stands in terms of gender equality and what we need to do to move forward. Read her thoughts below:
Where is Romania in terms of gender equality in business? Where have we made progress and where is there still work to be done?
Daniela Serban: Think tank VERTIK for the Future focuses on post-pandemic economic recovery and sustainable development for our country. We believe that gender gaps in the fields of economic participation and women’s access to opportunities, promotion of women in decision-making positions in politics, management and administration, women’s employment rates, equal pay and equal pay for work, as well as access to financing of start-ups with female entrepreneurship, are not regularly measured and evaluated on the basis of aggregate statistical indicators.
The data of various global indexes usually place Romania in the middle of any global chart in terms of gender equality. According to MIWE 2020, 27.3% of existing businesses in Romania are owned by women, the number putting us in 20th position in the global top countries with most women entrepreneurs. According to the Gender Equality Index, in the European Union, Romania is in 26th place, out of 28 countries, with the largest gaps in the ‘power’ area (top management and political functions), as well as in the ‘time’ area (care).
Progress was terribly slow in the past years, with less governmental focus on supporting female leadership. The only Ministry of Economy program dedicated to women entrepreneurship had no activity over the period, according to a letter sent to VERTIK.
In order to integrate European values, we aim at reducing the time to achieve gender equality from 107 years estimated for Eastern Europe to 54 years for Western Europe.
If policy is needed to see more women empowered to participate in all the fields mentioned above, what would that look like? Do you have examples of countries that got it right? If so, how?
Daniela Serban: Worldwide, political involvement is critical in order to achieve progress. VERTIK believes that after defining the indicators to be measured and followed at the national level, the perspective of women’s rights and equal opportunities should be integrated into the public policy-making processes. Ensuring the representation of women at all levels of the political decision-making process were priorities and proposals explicitly assumed through the Government Program 2020-2024.
Israel is number one according to the MIWE 2020 index, four places up since last year. The country doubled female entrepreneurship in two years through dedicated public policies. It is interesting to note that no country has achieved political gender equality, according to the Gender Equality Index, but progress has been made in the Nordic countries.