Women on the Move: Natalia Gherman
"Go for it. Make sure you're well-prepared, because sometimes we have to be twice as good and twice as better prepared, if not more ... don't be afraid. Go for it."
Natalia Gherman is a former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the Republic of Moldova. Driven by the urge to serve the citizens of Moldova, Gherman has served for 25 years in public service, with a focus on peace and security.
From 1997-2001, Gherman was the Deputy Head of the Department of European Security and Political-Military Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Moldova. Later, she earned the title of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Moldova to the Republic of Austria as well as Permanent Representative to the UN Agencies in Vienna and to the OSCE. In June-July 2015, she was Acting Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova.
Born into a political family – her father Mircea Snegur was the first President of Modolva – Gherman grew up during a period when political discourse was an everyday discussion. Over the past two decades, Moldova has undergone a transformational phase coping with multiple issues of peace, security, and sustainable development. After regaining independence in the early 90s, the country had to build up the human rights agenda from scratch, amid other systemic challenges like reaching the level of a middle-income country and providing access to quality education and health facilities. Within this environment, she was taught to take responsibility for the citizens by participating in public service. “It also taught me to be a good communicator and try to reach out to each citizen,” said Gherman.
While the traditional society of Eastern Europe still holds many stereotypes about the roles of women, women “on the move” like Gherman are determined to break down these clichés. “[We] prove by examples of so many wonderful fantastic women of the Republic of Moldova, that we are just as talented and just as good in exercising our professional duties,” she said. In order to get to where she is today, Gherman is deeply grateful for the continuous support from her parents. “My parents first and foremost led by example and created a very comfortable atmosphere in the family for me and my brother to grow up, receive good education, and never feel any barriers at all.”
After eight years working in the Moldovan foreign service, she went on to pursue a post-graduate degree in War Studies at King’s College London. “That was for me an important introduction to the way women can contribute to the peace and security agenda globally,” she said. During this time, she had the opportunity to meet fellow graduate students who had served in many peace operations including UN mandates around the globe. Then a young diplomat, Sherman said her graduate school experience was a huge motivational factor that influenced her perceptions and guided the way she exercised her professional duties.
Gherman advised aspiring leaders to truly learn to listen. According to Gherman, a great leader is someone who engages everyone in the decision-making process, at the same time reach out to stakeholders who might not be aware of their much needed contribution. Additionally, a great leader is also a team-builder who synthesizes everyone’s opinions, analyzes them, finalizes the decision and implement it resolutely, she says.
In the case of women, the path to leadership is even more arduous. “Make sure that you’re well prepared because sometimes you have to be twice as good and twice as better prepared, if not more,” said Gherman. “[Once] you have enough commitment and enough knowledge, don’t be afraid. Go for it.”