Stories of #WomenForEurope

Irina Onescu

"I had never considered politics as a career choice until about two years ago. In October 2015, the devastating Club Colectiv fire, that claimed the lives of more than 60 young people, became a turning point for many of my generation, myself included. Corruption and political neglect were threatening our hopes for a brighter future and something had to be done in order to change this dangerous downward path Romania was on. That is when I decided to run for mayor in the small rural community where I grew up in: Petris. I told myself that if I wanted to make a difference I had to take a stand: "Be the change you want to see in the world!"

Needless to say I had little knowledge of how things would turn out or even if I would be capable of managing such a huge responsibility. Winning the elections would not be an easy task, especially for a young woman with no political support. I faced prejudice and gender bias every step of the way, but I managed to overcome all this and I won the battle, to everyone’s surprise. On June 6th 2016, I became the youngest female mayor in Arad County’s history.

Seeing that previous to becoming mayor I had only worked in the private sector I knew little about how a local administration should be run. I started doing things intuitively, prioritizing each action and building a local development strategy based on the communities’ main deficiencies and needs. One of the biggest challenges that I still face today is changing people’s misconceptions.

I trust women more when it comes to responsible politics. Women measure power through action, whereas men tend to measure power through benefits and influence. Also women have this particular instinct which makes them fierce opponents and leaders that will always care for their family, whether that family is a country, a city or a small rural community.

My sheroes are my mother and my grandmother who raised and educated me to be kind and responsible and who have always inspired me to become a better person."

In the run-up to the launch of our campaign ’50:50 Women for Europe, Europe for Women’ on June 7, we are publishing stories of women in politics in Europe. Irina Onescu is the mayor of the commune of Petris, and the youngest woman mayor of Arad county, Romania.

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EWL event "Progress towards a Europe free from all forms of male violence" to mark the 10th aniversary of the Istanbul Convention, 12 May 2021.

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