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Law Out of Work

CEEIHM Issue 1.3.
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From educating youth about the rule of law to promoting gender equality, Alina Dumitrascu, Head of Network Technology, Development and Commercial Operation Legal Assistance at Enel Global Infrastructure and Networks in Rome, Italy, is certainly making the most of her time past her nine to five life. CEEIHM spoke with her to learn a bit more about some of the projects she is involved in.

CEEIHM: You are Head of Legal at Enel, but that is not your only role. Tell us a bit about other things you work on?

Alina: My life’s journey has always been about the law. Everything started when I was around the age of nine or ten, when I began to read legal books and when I internalized the word “lawyer.” I became single-minded about what I wanted to be when I grew up. Although I was pressured by my family to attend a computer science-focused high school, the law remained the only option for me. So, now, I am where I was meant to be – I occupy a global role in the legal family of the Enel Group. But indeed, that is not all – I write kids’ books about law and legislation; I am the co-founder of an NGO dedicated to supporting the rule of law, human rights, gender equality, and the empowerment of children in Romania; and I am part of Professional Women’s Network Romania, a global movement of people working towards gender-balanced leadership.

I like what I’m doing and, on this path, I got to meet, intentionally or serendipitously, a lot of open-minded people who showed me that “we all need a human reason to care.”

CEEIHM: You are a single mother and an expat during these trying times. How does one achieve success both as a legal expert and as a parent in these circumstances? What methods help you keep those two roles in balance?

Alina: It is quite simple. I have a very strong sense of humor and I make laughing a priority. This helps me a lot in any circumstance.

I love laughing with my son and my friends. Here in Italy, I met some special people, including my boss, who understood that happiness and joy do not conflict with the profession but, on the contrary, they help and amplify the results and strengthen the team unity. I must admit that I was lucky to be working in a pleasant atmosphere, keeping the same optimism that is part of my being also in the relationship with my child.

In addition, I am a very creative person and I have used this trait to persevere in difficult or fearful moments.

I love to spend my free time with my son, who is a small artist and who inspires me in every way. Also, being in Italy is fantastic. It is the most beautiful country with warm people, great coffee, and delicious pasta. I really could not have asked for more during such terrible times.

CEEIHM: You mentioned you also authored a children’s book about the Romanian Constitution. What’s the name of the book and why do you believe it is important to tell children about this topic? What elements of the constitution did you focus on?

Alina: I wrote a book called “What is the Constitution? Play and find out!,” which was published by one of the most prestigious publishing houses in Romania – the Curtea Veche Publishing House.

It is the first Romanian book for kids that explains clearly, simply, and playfully, the Romanian Constitution through images, games, and activities. It is a happy, fun, and interactive lecture dedicated to primary school children.

My goal was to plant the seed, catching kids’ attention, and inspiring them to discover the Constitution, the fundamental rights and obligations, the existence of the courts of law, and the way in which the state is organized. 

They are small, but they are citizens. We need a legally educated generation, ready to make decisions.

I dream of the day when it will be “cool” to know the Constitution and to know your rights.

CEEIHM: You also focus on non-profit work through Smartastic Lab, an NGO that promotes the rule of law and gender equality. What is the connection between these two values and what is their individual significance for you?

Alina: The Smartastic Lab NGO was founded by an enthusiastic group of lawyers who believe that children are smart and fantastic at the same time.

In my opinion, it is important to start the discussions about fundamental values, human rights, laws, society, and the common good as early as possible, because they are all interconnected.

A properly functioning society, grounded on the rule of law, depends on all of us equally. In this respect, we need to be educated, have strong values, and respect human rights. This is the foundation of everything.   

Also, thinking about the connection, let’s not forget that the European Convention on Human Rights refers specifically to “the governments of European countries which are like-minded and have a common heritage of political traditions, ideals, freedom, and the rule of law.”

CEEIHM: What are some of the projects your NGO has worked on and what about its work are you most proud of?

Alina: I am proud of every project and every meeting with children.

I like the Constitutional literacy project named “Start With the Right,” which was implemented in the primary schools in Bucharest and was endorsed by the Ministry of Justice.

Also, during these terrible times, we did a fantastic project together with The Museum of  Recent Art in Bucharest. We combined art and law in a workshop called “Equality Through Creativity” that had a theoretical component in which we discussed equality, followed by a practical component in which children, with the help of the museum’s educational team, created their own “manifesto for equality” using various artistic techniques and recycled materials. We used art to learn and connect. We all need to use every chance we get to experience art and culture, especially during times like these.

CEEIHM: Despite the strides made in the area in recent years, what more can be done to improve gender equality not only in Romania but also globally?

Alina: I think that networks, in general, can be powerful tools for change and they can make women’s contribution visible while connecting and empowering them at the same time. Professional Women’s Network Romania is a good example. I also think that promoting education and awareness in this direction can be effective, using cross-disciplinary courses.

Last, but not least, I think that equality can be promoted through art and, in this sense, I wish to continue the project initiated with The Museum of Recent Art.

Thinking about the legal framework, I must admit that sometimes the interpretation and implementation remain the main challenges.

Also, passing a law is not always sufficient; it is more about the people’s mentality, about growth and understanding, about a society that is becoming more open and accepting.

To get to this point, perseverance and endurance are mandatory because, as Ruth Bader Ginsburg (the great US Supreme Court Justice and women’s rights activist) said: “Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.”

By Djordje Vesic 

This article was published in issue 1.3 of CEE In-House Matters. The full edition is available here in pdf format, here in e-reader format, and here in electronic format.

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