By Alexandra Paucescu
The story of IWA Bucharest (International Women’s Association), one of the oldest and most respected charity associations in Romania, began in 1978, at a time when contact and friendships with foreigners were closely monitored and generally discouraged by the communist regime in the country.
The brave and visionary initiative of Evelyn Zivetz, the wife of the US cultural attaché at the time, saw the light of day and laid the foundations of what IWA is today. While at the beginning the main function of the informal association was to provide a social network among the diplomatic spouses posted in Bucharest, it also offered the framework to get in touch with Romanian society, even if it was strictly monitored by the communist regime of those days.
Though IWA was not granted legal status until 1999, it also had, from the very beginning, a humanitarian component, making donations and charitable contributions in the name of its members.
Today, IWA (a charitable, non-profit and apolitical organization), continues this proud legacy of cultural and charitable practices, where its more than 100 members, women coming from different countries, can find unity in friendship and common goals, while also contributing financially and voluntarily to different charity projects.
Delia Sfetcu, the first Romanian to ever be President of IWA over its 45 years of existence, talked about the past, present and future of the association.
‘The purpose of IWA is to promote friendship, to give our foreign members the possibility to share their cultural values while offering also a unique experience about Romania, introducing them to the life and culture of my country’.
‘I first joined IWA in 2015, after I had participated as a volunteer and sponsor to the annual Christmas Bazaar, our main yearly event, which raises significant amounts each time. After seeing firsthand how the funds raised for charity were used and how much good could be done for so many people, I decided to get more involved and become a full member of the association. IWA has this gift, to win your heart and make you want to help, to take initiatives, to get more active. Over the years, IWA has helped and sponsored social projects of some of the most notorious foundations and associations in the country. OvidiuRo, Hospice Casa Sperantei, SOS Children’s Villages, Casa Ioana are just a few of those. It’s a long way from the first projects, 45 years ago, when money was sent to help some needy children in India…
IWA is now one of the longest-lived associations in Romania, with a prestigious reputation, hard to match. I am proud of everything the association has achieved in all these years and I wish that in my mandate we lay the foundations for long-lasting projects and practices, which will remain for years to come. “Coffee mornings” became some of the most attended events and we are so excited to see that the speakers that we have invited had such a great impact! “Cultural Kaleidoscope” is one of my initiatives, which I wish to be maintained even after I will no longer be president of the association. ”Discover Romania “is also a project very dear to my heart. Romania is so beautiful and deserves to be discovered and appreciated at its true value!’
In fact, it is also one of the reasons why, in recent years, the association established a committee consisting of 3 permanent members (Delia is one of them), to ensure the stability and continuity of the association in time and respect for its values, long-term goals and vision, regardless of board and management members, who keep changing regularly.
During her term as president, together with her team (especially, IWA’s vice president, Gillian Adamson and Carmen Barta, Treasurer and Membership Chair) , Delia put all the past professional training and entrepreneurial experience to work and contributed significantly to the growth of the association’s presence in the local media and its overall results and reputation. 2022 had the most successful Christmas Bazaar in the history of IWA, with over 3,000 visitors.
In order to properly mark the 45th anniversary of the association, the IWA board decided to organize on October 7th 2023, a large charity gala, with more than 130 international guests.
‘It is intended to be a special celebration, with the participation of numerous members of the diplomatic corps accredited to Bucharest, a long list of ambassadors but also with the participation of guests from abroad, from other similar associations in Europe. Meanwhile, the event is designed to be a grand charity gala. The funds we raise will then be donated in full to “Casa Ioana” foundation in Bucharest. It will be a charity auction but also an occasion for good cheer, celebration of international values and friendship, a black-tie party in a select setting hosted by Grand Hotel Bucharest (the former iconic Intercontinental Hotel) in the city center. I would especially like to thank our sponsors, Kultho Diamonds and Bentley, who contributed, together with IWA and the hotel, to the realization of this ambitious project. It will definitely be a memorable evening!’
Happy anniversary, IWA Bucharest!
About the author:
She speaks Romanian, English, French, German and Italian, gives lectures on intercultural communication and is an active NGO volunteer.