Women’s Attitudes Toward the Transition to Democracy
During a set of oral history interviews conducted in Braşov, Romania, in the summer of 2003, “C,” “E,” “O,” “M,” and “L” discuss how the transition to a democratic system and a market economy have impacted politics, the economy, and women’s professional and everyday lives. Their reflections offer insights into the varied ways that women have been affected by, and perceive the changes that have taken place since the fall of the Communist regime in Romania in 1989.
To view the associated Teaching Case Study, click here.
Anonymous Interviewees, interview by Jill Massino, oral histories, Brasov, Romania (Summer, 2003), tape, Indiana University Institute for the Study of History and Memory.
C., born 1967, entrepreneur, married, two children, interviewed in Braşov, Romania, summer, 2003.
You have the possibility to dream about something and even realize these dreams. That’s the biggest gain. Not freedom of speech... that appears to me something abstract... before you didn’t have a reason to dream. When you knew that everything will be the same, that nothing will change, that you are small in the face of destiny, a type of robot that functions. I think that [the freedom to do something] was a gain.
E. born 1954, factory worker, married, one child, interviewed in Braşov, Romania, summer, 2003.
The government is not interested. Look at them, the thieves, the corruption, all the villas they built... more and more money in foreign banks and villas on the French Riviera and other places like that. The color of the party doesn’t matter. Under Communism there was the RCP [Romanian Communist Party], at least I knew there was only one. Now who knows how many RCPs there are. It’s just old wine in new bottles.
O. born, 1961, currently a university student, married, one child interviewed in Braşov, Romania, summer, 2003.
In general things have changed for the worse. Because already some people are too rich and very many are starving. Jobs are disappearing. The factories are no longer working at the capacity they did at one time. I don’t know, during the Ceauşescu period, even if he was stupid as some believe, why did we have work then and now we don’t. Still so many years after the revolution and we are confused because nothing works well any longer. I don’t know... nothing works.
M. born 1955, worked as an electrician under communism, currently unemployed, married, two children, interviewed in Braşov, Romania, summer, 2003.
Before we had money but we didn’t have products. Now we have products and we don’t have money. How good do you think it is for a woman to go to the market and not be able to buy the fruit that is needed for her kid? You are not able to spend money on fruit because you need to pay rent and other living expenses… it’s so expensive. The price of electricity, gas, rent--it’s like in the West--but the salaries are like in Romania.
L. born c.a. late 1940s, PhD, historian and museum curator under Communism, now runs a printing press and is president of an association that supports independent businesswomen, interviewed in Braşov, Romania, summer, 2003.
I became an important person. I’m no longer 20 years old but still I am a busy person, I am an active person and I hope to be useful, that is I feel that I am doing things that bring me satisfaction. Before I wrote a lot, professionally I was very happy because the things I did—research and writing for instance—I did with passion. I thought like a specialist. Now I think like a manager. I have changed many positions but I say that any woman and any person if he wants can change their life and in a positive manner and do something else.