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Most Romanian students learn about feminism from the Internet, not from school (press release)

February 23, 2022

The majority of Romanian middle school and high school students learn about feminism from the Internet and social media, and less at school or in the family – according to the study “What is feminism? Perceptions of Romanian students ” conducted by researchers Laura Grunberg and Diana Neaga in the project“ EGALIS: gender equality through social change and education”.

The research aimed to find out how well-known the concept of feminism is among Romanian students, what kind of connotations the term has in their collective mind and what female personalities in Romania know or consider important.

The authors of the study consider that the limited role of the secondary school in promoting the concept of feminism has to do with the fact that the official curriculum offers little opportunities to discuss this concept and its complementary terms. There are some minimal references to women’s movement or women’s situation in certain history textbooks, as well as some topics connected to feminism in civic education textbooks (for example, in human rights). At the high school level, school appears to be an important source of information about feminism, but also to a lesser extent than the Internet. There is little discussion about feminism in homes / families / circle of friends of the interviewees, which indicates that information about feminism reaches students in an unstructured way.

The research also revealed that the main known / important women in Romania for 11-13 year old students are (1) sports: Simona Halep, Nadia Comăneci, Gabi Szabo, Cristina Neaga, Elisabeta Polihroniade; (2) history: Ecaterina Teodoroiu, Regina Maria; (3) politics: Viorica Dăncilă and Clotilde Armand; (4) media characters: Denise Rifai , Vulpița or Raluca Bădulescu.

Perceptions of feminism differ by gender.  For boys, feminism is mostly about frowning, fighting (muscles), about she vs. he. For girls, feminism can have a "struggle" component, but with the heart, a "struggle" through empathy, collaboration, dialogue, normalization.

High school students have a rather positive view of this movement. The information that the young interviewees access on the Internet presents feminism in a positive light , and feminism is discussed at school in such a way that, for some of the students, the association with this term becomes a compliment. However, research shows that feminism is associated with claims and positive results only for women.The way it contributes to the improvement of men's lives is less (or not at all) known.

The vast majority of high school students are aware of the lack of equality between women and men. On the other hand, it seems that girls feel this lack of equality more strongly and state it in their answers. The high proportion of students who support the need for organizations active in promoting and protecting women's rights (approximately 50%, a significantly higher percentage than those who believe that there is no equality between women and men) suggests an updated and nuanced understanding of the issue.

The research is based on 147 questionnaires from secondary school students and 65 from high school students.

The questionnaire for secondary school students had 4 questions and was completed by 147 students (81 girls and 61 boys, 5 questionnaires did not have information on gender or name). Most of the respondents are from Bucharest ( but also from Cluj, Șerbănești, Floresti ) and are between 11 and 13 years old .

The high school questionnaire had 10 questions, answered by a total of 65 students (19 boys, 43 girls and 3 students who did not declare their sex). 

The EGALIS project: Gender equality through social change and education is developed by the Partnership for Equality Center, in partnership with the Front Association, AnA - the Scientific Society for Feminist Analysis, ACTEDO - the Action Center for Equality and Rights Association Man, PLURAL Association and SEX vs The STORK Association, with financial support from Active Citizens Fund Romania, programme funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA Grants Grants 2014 -2021. The aim of the project is to generate changes in the perception of young people and teachers and to influence decision-makers in order to develop institutional policies on gender equality, through education and awareness aimed at young people and teachers, as well as through watchdog actions and advocacy .

The Active Citizens Fund Romania program is financed by the EEA Grants 2014-2021. The overall objective of the Grants is to reduce economic and social disparities and strengthen bilateral relations between the 15 beneficiary states and the donor states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway). The program is administered by the consortium composed of Fundația pentru Dezvoltarea Societății Civile, Fundația pentru Parteneriat, Centrul de Resurse pentru Comunitățile de Romi, Fundația PACT and Frivillighet Norge, which acts as a Fund Operator designated by the FMO – Financial Mechanism Office for EEA and Norway Grants. Active Citizens Fund Romania aims to strengthen civil society and active citizenship and increase the capacity of vulnerable groups. With a total allocation of EUR 46,000,000, the program aims to develop the long-term sustainability and capacity of the civil society sector, intensifying its role in promoting democratic participation, active citizenship and human rights while strengthening bilateral relations with its donor states Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. For more information about Active Citizens Fund in Romania, please visit www.activecitizensfund.ro. For more information about EEA and Norwegian Grants, visit www.eeagrants.ro.

This website has been updated in the project EGALIS: gender equality through social change and education, implemented by the Centre Partnership for Equality (CPE), in partnership with Front Association, The Romanian Society for Feminist Analyses (AnA), The Equality and Human Rights Action Centre (ACTEDO), PLURAL Association and SEX vs The STORK Association, with the financial support from Active Citizens Fund Romania, programme funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA Grants 2014 -2021. The content of this website does not necessarily reflect the official position of the EEA and Norway Grants 2014-2021; for more information visit www.eeagrants.org. More details about Active Citizens Fund Romania are available at www.activecitizensfund.ro.

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