Raisa Buga is a teacher of geography and the principal of the lyceum Dimitrie Cantemir from Cornesti town, Ungheni district. Being a resident of Cornesti village, she has been working as a teacher for 32 years, always trying to promote gender equality in her community, educating several generations in the spirit of equality and mutual respect. The EVA project – Strengthened Gender Action in Cahul and Ungheni districts, funded by the European Union and implemented by UN Women in partnership with UNICEF, encouraged her in this mission, making her to understand how precious her effort is, and helping her to discover innovative tools for advancing gender equality, such as positive deviance.

“I live in Cornesti village from Ungheni district. My day begins before sunrise, with a cup of black coffee and the thought – not to miss the school bus, which drives me to the gymnasium from Cornesti town, where I have been teaching geography for thirty-two years, and several years ago becoming a principal. I grew up in a calm family, with the ambition and desire to make “our” world better. In my childhood, I witnessed violence in other families, at my neighbours. I think both women and men can do great things… Such situations determined me to make a change in my community, to get involved. Thanks to different projects, I started teaching gender equality as an optional hour, although at the beginning it was taken with scepticism, it was immediately loved by children. The EVA Project made me to discover a tool I have been using previously, without realizing it – positive deviance. At the beginning, I was surprised to see the way things can work – making a change. Then, I understood that, using this method, I can help many problematic, violent families to be aware of the effects of this phenomenon…

There were not so many research and education methods in the spirit of gender equality before but now we have more and more tools. Also, within EVA Project, I discovered 2 positive practices, functioning in the EU, related to violence prevention and combating that I decided to apply in school. One of them will be dedicated to promoting gender equality, and the other one, Silence is not golden, will raise awareness on violence and encourage people to report this phenomenon.

Unfortunately, women are still vulnerable because they don’t believe in themselves, being afraid to take a stand. In order to succeed, it is important for them to constantly educate and inform themselves. I have already noticed that girls of my children generation can express their views more clearly, this being not typical for women of my generation, who is featured by fear and obedience.

It is important to change the perception in the school, to start with manuals and to explain why fathers should not be represented only as mechanics or bricklayers, and mothers – as housewives. The EVA Project teaches us how to use innovation to advance the mission of gender equality in villages and towns from Ungheni district via education.

Additionally, the pandemic has changed many things over night. It made us understand how important it is to be together. The main lesson was – one cannot applaud with one hand. The screens made me to feel the isolation, to feel the lack of contact with the other hand, the feet back.”

Raisa Buga, with her 32 years of professional experience in education, promotes gender equality in her village via innovative educational methods. She applies positive practices taken from EU experience, creates role-playing games and works with local initiative groups. Raisa Buga is one of the beneficiaries of EVA Project – Strengthened Gender Action in Cahul and Ungheni districts, aiming at empowering local public authorities to prevent the phenomenon of gender-based violence and improving the capacity and the evaluation tools of responses and specialised multidisciplinary services.