Case Study: Mobilizing communities: Ending violence against older women in Moldova


Photo: HelpAge International Moldova
Participants in HelpAge International Moldova's project meeting with local officials. Photo: HelpAge International

"We must not be indifferent to older people." - Claudia Cîrjă, a volunteer with Help Age International Moldova and President of the NGO Women’s Club of Moldova

Older women can experience the same forms of violence as younger women and girls do, but the intersections of ageism and sexism, as well as factors such as illness, disability, isolation and widowhood increase the risk of violence to older women[1]. The measurement of the extent of violence against older women is limited, but having the proper data and statistics are essential to correctly estimate and understand the problem, develop policies, and implement programming in response. [2] In Moldova, 46 per cent of women and girls report experiencing intimate partner violence, but this study does not include women over the age of 65, and many studies on violence against women don’t include women over 50.[3]

HelpAge International, a grantee of the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund), is addressing this gap in research and services for older women survivors of violence in Moldova. A small study conducted by HelpAge International found that one in four (28.6 per cent) older people in Moldova have experienced violence or abuse and, of those, three out of four were women.[4]

 “Psychological violence exists in many families and manifests itself especially through verbal abuse and humiliation”, said Colesnic Lidia, a volunteer working with HelpAge International in Moldova.

HelpAge International’s UN Trust Fund-supported project mobilizes eight communities in Moldova by informing older women of their rights, raising awareness of the availability of existing support services, supporting mobile volunteer teams to reach more women and builds the capacity of the state to assist older women.

In 2017 alone, the project reached 747 older women and other community members to broaden awareness of this often-invisible pandemic. Additionally, the project mobilized older people to form and expand groups of volunteers, which now includes 79 participants. The volunteers have organized open forum town hall meetings and they collaborate closely with local authorities to ensure the needs of older women are included in policy discussions.

Valeria Rosca*, an older woman who participated in the project from Mitoc said: “We want to get out of the house. We want to talk about our problems.”

The community-driven approach is successfully identifying and understanding the different experiences of intersectional discrimination and exclusion in order to reach women who may be the most susceptible to violence.

I'm very glad that someone opens my door – not to bring me something, but to communicate with me”, added Diana Popa*, an older woman from Donici.

*Names have been changed on request from the beneficiaries.

[1] For the purposes of this project, older women are recognized as being 55 and over. The United Nations recognizes older women as being over 60 years old. Although there are commonly used definitions of older age, there is no general agreement on the age at which someone becomes old.