U.S. Embassy awards Women of Courage in Romania

The U.S. Embassy in Romania offered the Women of Courage 2017 awards to Simona Voicescu, Alina Tuca, Violeta Dascalu, Sabina Fati, and Letitia Coriu. The embassy recognized four Romanian women of Courage, in addition to their International Woman of Courage nominee for 2017, Simona Voicescu.

Established in 2007, the U.S. Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award honors women around the globe who have exemplified exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for human rights, women’s equality, and social progress, often at great personal risk. It is the only Department of State award that pays tribute to emerging women leaders worldwide.

This year’s U.S. Embassy Woman of Courage in Romania is Simona Voicescu. She established her NGO, Asociatia Necuvinte, as a one-woman operation in 2013. The NGO now employs three people full time and draws on a group of around 50 more volunteers.

“Through her organization, Ms. Voicescu has been instrumental in strengthening the national law on restraining orders and in educating the public and law enforcement on identifying and assisting victims of domestic violence. […] Thanks to Ms. Voicescu’s tireless advocacy, in just a few short years she has become a leading voice in addressing an issue that has long been taboo here in Romania.  And, more importantly, she has gotten results,” the U.S. Ambassador Hans Klemm said.

Captain Alina Ţucă of the Romanian armed forces was singled out for a career “characterized by determination, excellence and a series of pioneering ‘firsts’.” Ţucă joined the Army in 2004 and graduated from the Land Forces Academy. As the valedictorian. She served in Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where she took on “the thorny issue of gender equality, directly challenging the country’s traditionally male-dominated society.” Three villages within her Area of Responsibility elected women as their chiefs, allowing a new group of leaders to emerge.

Teacher Violeta Dascălu “has shown courage in challenging popular perceptions of disadvantaged children and in bucking the status quo.” She has been teaching for 28 years and has served as principal of the Ferdinand I primary school in Bucharest’s Obor neighborhood. The school has over 700 students, many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds. By creating various partnerships and through innovation, she helped her students thrive. Though more than one third of the students at Dascalu’s school qualify for social assistance, only eight dropped out in 2016, down from 50 in 2010.

Jurnalist Sabina Fati “helped build democracy in Romania” through her work as a reporter for Radio Free Europe from 1994 to 2002. “She strove to tell the human stories behind the official realities, and to show how isolated neighboring countries can become without proper knowledge of one other. Through her courage, we are all better informed,” ambassador Klemm said.

Healthcare professional Letiţia Coriu, an anesthesiologist working in Bucharest, established the Doctors’ Alliance, which opposed the Government’s proposal to legalize what they called “bribery,” while highlighting an underfunded, corrupt, and poorly managed healthcare system. Her initiative won a 25 percent salary increase for healthcare professionals, and has turned into the most important organization advocating for better working conditions for local medical personnel.

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(Photo: US Embassy in Romania Facebook Page)

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