Women’s Leadership and Empowerment in the Transnistrian Conflict Resolution in Moldova

Julia Vassileva |

The context of my research: The war in Ukraine and its impact on Eastern European security perception

Russia’s full-scale invasion and war of aggression against Ukraine has impacted security perception in the European Eastern Neighbourhood and it has highlighted the need for the international community to pay increased attention to so-called ‘frozen’ conflicts. When such conflicts remain ignored and unresolved for too long, there is continuous danger of eruption and escalation. This danger was felt by the population of the European Eastern Neighbourhood countries in the spring of 2022, and remains a daily reality in the context of the increasingly unstable security environment. Moldova is a country bordering Ukraine, and its Eastern separatist region of Transnistria has been a dangerous ground for Russian influence. The reintegration of Transnistria and the resolution of this ‘deep-frozen’ conflict has thus become pivotal for European security.


The Transnistrian settlement process in Moldova: Women’s leadership and empowerment



Against this background and the call for an effective and inclusive resolution of the Transnistrian context, the article I am working on focuses particularly on women’s inclusion in the settlement process. The research attempts to make a contribution by exploring women’s leadership in the Transnistrian conflict resolution, the concept of women’s empowerment, and how women empower themselves and each other to be meaningfully included in security and defence. The aim was also to better understand the gender dynamics of the negotiations.




The fieldwork which I conducted – and why travelling to Moldova was so valuable for this work

To conduct data collection, I spent 2 weeks in March and April 2024 as a Visiting Researcher in Chisinau, Moldova, working with the Platform for Security and Defence Initiatives (PISA) who kindly hosted me and supported my work. I conducted 30 semi-structured qualitative research interviews for the purpose of writing an article to be published in an international peer-reviewed journal. Interviewees included i.) public sector (Presidency, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Bureau for Reintegration Policies, Members of Parliament, etc.), ii.) international organisations (EU, UN, and others), iii.) civil society, NGOs, think tanks; iv.) academia (experts working on foreign policy, conflict history, defence and strategy, women’s role in society, etc.).

My experience shows the immense added value of being able to work on the ground as opposed to conducting a series of online interviews. The research stay allowed me to conduct meaningful data collection, learn a great deal about the context, experience what it means to work on this topic in Moldova, see many positive examples of women’s leadership and empowerment, and to be incredibly inspired by the efforts and successes of extraordinary women and men who work towards conflict resolution, peace, and human security. I am hoping to be soon able to publish my article on the topic.