Liuba Ceban is from Moldova and is President of Altruism. This is an NGO active in the areas of child protection, human rights, suicide prevention, youth empowerment and civic leadership. It was awarded UN Moldova’s Award for the best initiative in Human Rights Protection for religious minorities, and US Embassy Award for US Exchange Programs Alumni for the best Child Protection Initiative in suicide prevention.
1. Tell us about yourself, Liuba?
I am originally from Ukraine, but now live in Moldova as my parents moved to this country many years ago. I love studying - this is why I went to school many times. I studied theology, social work, psychology and management. I am passionate about activism and empowering people to do their best in life. I manage several successful projects in my country; one of them is a Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
2. You are the President of Altriusm Moldova. Tell us a bit about the charity and your role?
Altruism is a non-profit organization, which was born in 2003 at the crossroads of my career path and aims to promote charity, civic activism and support for people in need. I lead the organization and we work with people with difficult life situations, in despair, discouragement and loss of hope. Our vision is to empower people to shine, and to overcome challenging life situations.
3. As a woman in Moldova, you’ve had quite an unusual leadership journey. Can you tell us a bit about it?
My leadership journey started when I was a child. My parents share stories from my childhood about my role in organizing kids on the streets to play different games. I remember that growing up my confidence and ability to organize people started to decline due to the lack of support for the gifts I was manifesting. I learned early enough that I am not supposed to be like that as a woman and had lots of struggles with self-acceptance due to that. Still along the way, God was always bringing people and situations into my life to empower me and give me opportunities to grow.
After graduating from Seminary I started to work with poor children leading my first initiative. God has led me through different roles bringing me to my current civic leadership position where I am finally recognised among many leaders in the country.
My leadership journey was not an easy road. Moldovan society, which discourages a woman to be a leader, brings lots of obstacles your way, especially in the conservative church environment.
4. What are some of the challenges that women in Moldova face inside and outside the Christian church? Is there equality?
There are several ministries, where women lead, but you rarely find an active woman in the leadership role, where men would be under her authority. The “theological” support for the role of women in the church knowing their own place is very often heard. Still, there are new denominations, which do accept women in the more active role.
I think the church is a reflection of the realities of the society, which is not always a good thing. We have some representation of women in the Government, Parliament, but there is still a huge under-representation.
This year Moldova adopted an equality legislation which encourages 40% of representation in different sectors of the country to be female. We will see what this will bring. There are lots of changes with the aspirations of Moldova to be accepted in the EU, but there is still a long way to go.
5. How are you empowering the next generation of female leaders to overcome these barriers?
I run a Changemakers Leadership School, which is open to young people of both genders to grow as leaders. We have many young women, who aspire to be leaders and the program challenges them to grow and to start their own projects in a leadership role. This is a very exciting moment for them, as well as for me seeing them shining with their own initiatives!
6. Moldova is one of the biggest source countries for human trafficking in Europe. What is being done inside the country to eradicate it?
There are national programmes, which aim to fight human trafficking. There are several church denominations running centres for women to recover from trafficking. Unfortunately what is being done is not enough. There are cases when people from the police or church are involved in human trafficking, so people don’t even think about the need of being informed. The promotion of value of human life, of dignity is still a huge need in my country.
7. How can we pray for the people and church in Moldova?
Thank you for your willingness to do so. Please, pray for more leaders to arise - for a more active Christian community and for God’s love and light to heal this land through many people who will embrace responsibly their role to empower people around them.