Survivors of gender-based violence in Ungheni district will be accommodated in a shelter created with support from Japan and UNDP

November 29, 2023

The first support centre providing accommodation for survivors of gender-based violence is to be opened in Ungheni. The space is part of a community centre created 18 years ago with UNDP support and is being renovated thanks to a project funded by the Government of Japan through the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The shelter in Ungheni will have a capacity of six rooms (18 beds) and will be able to provide accommodation for up to half a year and up to one year in exceptional cases. Accommodation is only one element of the multidimensional services to be provided, together with legal support, social assistance, and psychological and vocational counselling. 

"I would like to thank UNDP for working on making this important space into operation. I would also like to express my sincere appreciation for professionals working with survivors and potential victims of gender-based violence and refugees. Violence against women and girls destroys peace and stability of families and communities. Given the fact that gender-based violence is rooted in gender-unequal social structures, we need to make efforts to promote gender equality in all areas of society. Now Moldova kindly hosts many Ukrainian refugees, mostly women and children. They are in a vulnerable position and need proper protection," says Mariko Mori, First Secretary of the Japanese Embassy in Moldova. 

"This shelter in Ungheni is to provide protection and assistance to survivors of violence and their children, and refugee women can also benefit from the assistance. The experience of a similar service set up with UNDP support in Găgăuzia region, which assisted and accommodated on short- and medium-term refugees from Ukraine - women, mothers with newborns and young children, older people and survivors of gender-based violence - since the beginning of the war in Ukraine. This has shown that the versatility of the Centre allows it to provide support to those who need it most in a situation of force majeure," explains Olesea Cazacu, Programme Analyst at UNDP Moldova.

The allocated budget of around US$60,000 allows the centre's building to be transformed into a shelter. The space is being renovated and restructured so that it meets quality standards and is accessible to people with disabilities. The Centre's team has been trained to provide quality services to survivors of gender-based violence and other beneficiaries.

"Creating services for the prevention of gender-based violence is a vital need. The experience of our centre has shown us the need to create such a space. The complicated cases of gender-based violence that we have worked with and continue to work with justify the creation of this shelter in Ungheni. The centre will address multidimensional violence, taking into account the complexity of this phenomenon, will empower women and provide them with equitable opportunities", says Constantin Stratulat, director of the Support Centre.

With the support of UNDP and the German Government, a mobile team has also been set up to provide services not only in the localities of the Ungheni district but also in those of the Călărași district. Four other mobile teams are supported to operate in different regions of the country.

The mobile team, consisting of a psychologist, a social worker and a legal counsellor, travels to localities and provides individual and group consultations to refugees from Ukraine and women from backgrounds vulnerable to gender-based violence. Complicated cases identified are assisted to resolution, and eligible persons are offered free retraining, digital literacy and entrepreneurship courses. Beneficiaries may also be offered the possibility of co-financing for their businesses, of the salary during the probationary period upon employment and are provided with vouchers for medical services. 

In 2020, UNDP established a regional centre for survivors of gender-based violence in Găgăuzia region. Local authorities in Găgăuzia have been supported in the creation of 20 multidisciplinary teams which play a key role in both preventing and combating domestic violence by identifying, supporting and referring survivors to existing services. Team members include the mayor or deputy mayor, social worker, community police officer, community medical representative, school and kindergarten representatives, as well as local actors, including civil society.

Gender-based violence continues to be widespread in Moldova. Even though the country has strong policies and a legal framework to prevent and address gender-based violence, the high rate of intimate partner violence (73%) shows the discrepancy between policies and the lived experiences of girls and women. More than a third of women over 15 have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from their partner.