Gender Equality Plans as change maker: Successful practices for sustainability

The R&I Peers Multisectoral conference is coming up, 9th December 2021. The purpose of this conference is to discuss and bring to light the good results and working practices within the Gender Equality Plans of the R&I Peers project, as well as of the other GEP promoting initiatives. The aim is to disseminate any activity, practice or policy that could eventually lead and become a best practice.

An effective GEP should consider gender equality both in terms of an organisation’s internal processes, as well as the impact of its broader research outputs. When building and implementing a GEP there are several “building blocks” that needs to be present in order to insure some success. These can be defined as process-based elements (i.e. dedicated resources, internal monitoring, official endorsement, etc.) and content-based elements (i.e. organizational culture, gender balance in decision making bodies, gendered research, etc.).

These will be the base elements on which the exchange of “good practices” as the changemaker of the environment will be discussed with different GEP implementing bodies. To enrich and further deep dive into the organizational reality, hands-on experiences will be shared from witnesses who had to apply and run these changes internally. 

The R&I Peers invites to the conference science and innovation leaders, decision makers, researchers and practitioners ready to share and learn on gender equality in R&I.

To register, click here.

Gender Equality Success at a Cypriot Youth NGO

In the context of the second R&I Peers Multisectoral Conference, participants had the opportunity to receive first-hand feedback from external project stakeholders about their experience of implementing Gender Equality Plans. One panelist, Niki Karoulla, President of Active Zone Outdoor and Physical Education Teacher in Primary Education, shared her experience of a GEP implementation at Active Zone Outdoor, a non-profit organisation she runs in Cyprus.

As a first action in their GEP implementation, Karoulla says Active Zone Outdoor–which enjoys a membership of fifteen organisations and reaches 250 young people with sporting activities in Cyprus–focused on creating gender balance in two key areas: Within the AZO board of directors, and among participants in AZO external events that focus on outdoor sports activities for youth, ages 18 to 30.

In both cases, AZO reported successes. As of 2019, their 15-member board of directors enjoys involvement by seven women, with Karoulla herself as President. Karoulla also reports that “Click and Go, ” a project promoting non-traditional sports to women, succeeded at reaching equal gender engagement across trainers, leaders, and participants. Key to this success Karoulla says, was “promoting ‘atypical’ sports to women, like mountain climbing, and also by including women leaders in mountain climbing among their training team. This latter especially “challenged important gender stereotypes in this sport,” Karoulla said.

An additional success story Karoulla shared was a program called the Youth Policy Project, which aimed to “cultivate a culture of awareness for equal gender representation in Cyprus. In dialogue among policy-makers, youth, media, coaches, trainers and athletes, Karoulla says their event succeeded in having fifty-fifty participation across the board, a genuine accomplishment.

Karoulla says that key to these successes may be that Active Zone Outdoor is an organisation “made up of young people with an open mindset” which facilitates actions to support gender equality. “Maybe also because I am female,” she adds. Looking forward, Karoulla says she hopes the experience of implementing a gender equality plan at AZO can show that other NGOs can benefit from such strategies. Critical to this she says, is that “people in charge of the organisation have to treat gender issues as impacting both male and female. It is not just an issue for women,” Karoulla says. “It is an issue for all of us.”

Lessons in Engagement: The R&I PEERS Second Multisectoral Conference

On 20 April 2021, the R&I Peers project hosted its Second Multisectoral Conference addressing “the impact of gender equality plans on internal and external stakeholders.” The purpose of this conference was to disseminate the results and contribution of the R&I Peers project to advancing gender equality in research and innovation in EU. The conference dove into questions about the real impact of gender equality plan (GEP) implementation, both internal and external to the GEP implementing organisation.

The following topics were discussed:

  • The impact of the GEP implementation on internal stakeholders
  • Gender Equality Plan in engaging external local, regional and national stakeholders
  • Most successful actions in the GEP implementation

Science and innovation leaders, decision makers, researchers and practitioners ready to collaborate, were invited to the conference to share and learn about gender equality in R&I.

The conference program can be found on this link.  

The Road to UNISA’S First Gender Equality Plan

In June 2020, Maria Rosaria Pelizzari from University of Salerno (UNISA) in southern Italy, published a paper on the implementation of UNISA’s first Gender Equality Plan (GEP) entitled “The R&I PEERS project at the University of Salerno: Implementation of GEPs in Research Organisations.” The article is part of a report on proceedings from the conferenceDiversity Management: Challenges and new frontiers for research organisations,” available here (pages 197 to 210). 

“No Space for Violence” – Image from Paper by Maria Rosaria Pelizzari on UNISA’s GEP Implementation

Pelizzari’s paper aims to retrace the road that has led the Observatory for Gender Studies and Equal Opportunities (OGEPO) to achieve significant goals toward its engagement to shape and launch UNISA’S first Gender Equality Plan, the first of the seven GEPs planned within the H2020 R&I PEERS project.

Wrap-up: R-I PEERS First Multisectoral Conference

The First Multisectoral Conference of the R&I PEERS project took place in Athens on 3 April 2019, and was attended by approximately sixty participants, including Ms Maria Theleriti, Member of Greek Parliament, who also represented Mr Nikos Voutsis, President of the Greek Parliament.  The Conference was opened by Ms Marina Chrysoveloni, Greek Deputy Minister of the Interior in charge of Gender Equality and representative of Mr Alexis Charitsis, Greek Minister of the Interior, followed by introductory remarks from Ms Maria Rosaria Pelizzari of UNISA, R&I PEERS Project Coordinator.

Two project partner organizations, the General Secretariat for Gender Equality (Greece), and Agence Nationale de la Promotion de la Recherche scientifique (Tunisia), then presented their Gender Equality Plans, followed by  a speech from CIC nanoGune (Spain) on the subject of “gender equality in research and innovation in Spain,” and the situation at CIC nanoGune specifically.

A representative of Consiglio Nazionale delle Richerche (Italy) then discussed the importance of using correct indicators for Gender Equality Plans and the methodology employed for identifying these indicators.  Ms Marta Artilles Viera, EC representative,  then made a remote presentation outlining ERA guidelines and Project Objectives for the R&I PEERS project.

The conference also showcased two ongoing “sister” Gender Equality projects in Research and Innovation, also funded by Horizon 2020, that promote Gender Equality Plan implementation.  Greek representatives of these projects, the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) and the National Documentation Center (Greece), presented the project objectives and results achieved so far within the two discussed projects, noted below:

  1. TARGET Project:   SUPPORTING Gender Equality Innovating Institutions in the Mediterranean;  and
  2. The GenderAction Project:   Gender equality in the ERA Community

Ensuing debate highlighted the need for networking among partners at national level and incentives to strengthen the diffusion of gender in research, including toward operation of research organizations.

Representatives of Galilee Research Institute (Israel) and Digital Leadership Institute (Belgium) subsequently spoke about the importance of an online platform for maximizing the impact of the project.  And finally, a representative of the Neuroscience and Technology Institute (Cyprus) presented the Structured Democratic Dialogue methodology and explained its importance for participatory decision-making.