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.”

Practical Tips for Tackling Sexism in Media and Public Discourse

The Hellenic General Secretariat for Family Policy and Gender Equality recently published two Practical Guides respectively targeting media professionals and journalists, and women politicians and candidates for public office, in order to tackle sexism in media and public discourse.

These guides include practical tips and communication techniques to help women in the public sphere respond to, and even prevent, sexism and stereotype-driven behavior. The guides contain general information and statistics on the position of women in public discourse and their empowerment needs. They outline concepts, provide a conceptual framework within which sexism may operate, and provide case studies and examples that can be used by anyone interested in tackling stereotypes and sexist behavior in public debates. 

Tips for Tackling Sexism in Media: 

Journalists can constructively contribute to decreasing sexism and stereotyping behavior in media in the following ways:

  1. When we cover a story as journalists, we make women ‘visible,’ even when they do not shout. 
  2. We change the narrative – Tip 1: The story that suggests women are weak and at the mercy of their emotions, and men are logical and strong, as well as women’s saviours, is a problematic narrative. We include in our reporting men who show sentiment and kindness, and women who need no saviour. 
  3. We change the narrative – Tip 2: As journalists, we do not abide by stereotypes that suggest that showing sentiment is the proof of weakness, nor that cold logic is always a show of strength, intellectual or otherwise. Remember there are fine lines, for example cruelty is not strength. 
  4. In harassment and femicide stories, we analyse what happened, offering a three-fold, deep analysis. We do not stigmatise the victim. 
  5. We find allies against sexism—colleagues, representatives of institutions, organizations—and we form a community with them.
  6. We give a priority to anti-sexist education of children, eg. games and toys are not forbidden or required play for children of a specific gender. 
  7. We use inclusive language.                                                
  8. We look for women experts who can contribute to our reporting.

Tips for Tackling Sexism in Public Discourse: 

A woman politician or candidate for public office, or any woman exposed to public discourse, may consider the following guidelines when they become the subject of sexist or stereotyping behavior: 

  1. Assess the situation calmly and practice a confrontational and dissuasive reaction. 
  2. Speak openly and state when you are being interrupted, including when someone “protects” you, thus implying that you are unable to manage the conversation yourself.
  3. Use arguments when you are accused of using your feelings.
  4. Correctly state your status when someone refers to you with a diminutive.
  5. Immediately flag any comment made because of your gender.
  6. If you receive a comment because of gender, disapprove of your interlocutor and ask for an explanation.
  7. Be vocal if you feel that what you are saying is not heard.
  8. Answer calmly if the comments are about your gender.
  9. Be prepared and ready to react.
  10. Speak through your own experiences.
  11. Reverse stereotypes, and if possible, generalize. 
  12. Bring the issue of gender to the fore.

The guides were elaborated in the framework of the project “Capacity building for women candidates and media stakeholders in public debates in Greece” (“GENDER_PUBLIC DEBATE”) implemented by the Centre for European Constitutional Law (coordinator), in collaboration with the National and Kapodistrian University Athens Department of Communication & Media Studies, and the General Secretariat for Family Policy and Gender Equality, with co-funding from the “Rights, Equality and Citizenship” Program (REC) of the European Union, 2014-2020.

Links to additional content:

Integrating the Gender Dimension in Research

At the second progress meeting for the R&I PEERS project, held in Athens on 4 April 2019, consortium members organised a workshop on “how to integrate the gender dimension into research content.”  The aim of this training was to provide consortium partners with knowledge on how to integrate the gender perspective in research in a way that does not deal with the topic of “gender” as a specific research objective.

The workshop was built around the Toolkit for Integrating Gender-Sensitive Approach into Research and Teaching developed as part of the GARCIA project, and was convened by Dr. Jovana Mihajlović Trbovc, one of the Toolkit authors hailing from R&I PEERS project partner ZRC SAZU.

The aim of the Toolkit itself is to help researchers and teaching staff understand the relevance of gender to scientific inquiry by addressing questions to their past and future research/teaching trajectories.  Using the Toolkit, then, the focus of the workshop was to:

  • Raise awareness about the value of integrating the gender dimension in research;
  • Examine how the gender perspective could lead open new opportunities research inquiry; and
  • Promote more socially responsible and sensitive scientific inquiry.

Starting from the premise that there are no ready-made solutions, the workshop participants were asked to describe a project that does not have gender component so the group could practice gender-sensitive approach from scratch.  In this way, the workshop was structured as a thought exercise in which the convenor facilitated discussions on how a gender-sensitive approach could be applied on concrete project questions, methodologies, and results.

Workshop participants were evenly divided between those familiar with gender studies concepts and those from disciplines where exposure to such concepts is rare.  This encouraged lively debate where, through exchange of knowledge between the groups, a notable achievement was an increase in understanding around the concepts of ‘gender’ and ‘intersectionality’.

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.

 

Welcome to the First R&I PEERS Newsletter

We are thrilled to announce publication of the first R&I PEERS project newsletter for Winter 2019.  This issue contains the following articles:

  • Letter from the R&I PEERS Project Coordinator
  • Analysis of the “variables that may affect gender issues in research”
  • Results of the 7 November 2018 Mutual Learning Workshop in Rome

To access R&I PEERS Newsletter Edition 1, please follow the below links:

Feel free to subscribe to future editions of the R&I PEERS Newsletter here: http://bit.ly/ripeersnews

For more information about the newsletter or to share news with the R&I PEERS project, please contact the project coordinator.