Meet Silvia Burcea
Silvia has a BA in political science and an MA in Gender Equality and Public Policies within University of Bucharest. In 2013, after completing her one year internship program at ActiveWatch, she got a taste of activism and joined Partnership Center for Equality – a Bucharest based NGO that acts against gender inequality. Currently she is working for Save the Children Romania within a project that is dedicated to women in disadvantaged areas that need medical and social care.
The revelatory moment
In her early childhood, she noticed that boys and girls were treated differently even on the playground were she wanted to play football – a boys sport. As she grew, she understood that the gender roles were even more severe. Despite the fact that she did not necessarily understand yet concepts such as “feminism” or “gender roles”, she was really intrigued by the persistence of gender inequality. Activism helped her practice what she believed was right and to put in line her academic background with concrete actions that were tackling social justice and women discrimination.
The first victory
For Silvia each interaction with poor girls living that become aware of their rights and needs without feeling guilt or abandonment is a small victory. It takes a lot of persuasion and diplomacy for poor girls to reach a minimum level of entitlement.
The bumps in the road
On a general note, Silvia is rather frustrated that feminism is either wrongfully perceived or not assumed even by gender equality supporters. She can not comprehend why feminism is labeled as if it would be a radical movement.
Although Silvia’s work takes a lot of time and resources, she has a positive and realistic attitude that “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. The more she immerses into the challenges that vulnerable groups are facing every day the more she appreciates minor victories at their best value.
Extremism explained to a 5-year-old
Discrimination is when you’re not allowed on the playground just because other individuals or groups consider that because of your skin colour or of the way you talk you are not cool enough to join them.
Some thoughts for undecided activists
An activist should be aware that change comes in small bits. Instead of aiming extremely high he or she should create networks of people that share the same values and interests. This is available too for developing online counter narratives.
Potential activists and NGO professionals should reflect on their general attitude and discourse that sometimes look rather elitist or still niche. To some extent, radicalization could be a consequence of misapprehension.
Adequate responses in uncomfortable situations
When confronting radical views and attitudes one should be aware that it’s mined land. There are limited to zero chances of changing minds and hearts just by enforcing on others what you know is fair and ethical. Keep the debate as civil as possible and just stop and back down when there is no place for other arguments. Under no circumstances: do not engage and do not reciprocate incivility.
Challenge your inner activist
Silvia believes that volunteering for a social cause is the best way for a high school student to develop the necessary tools and immunity response when facing extremism and radicalization. If that ship has sailed, things can be corrected later in life. Even young active professionals could donate some of their time and expertise for an NGO that is dedicated to a cause that they believe in.