The First Meeting Of The FYEG Gender Working Group In Brussels

Last weekend, after two Skype Conferenceswe could finally see each other in real: young Europeans who wanted to work together in the fight for gender and women rights! We had a lot of fun, hard working, discussing and eating of belgic fries.

Present were Orcun, 18 and Ahemd, 20 from Netherlands, Adela, 22 from Slovakia, Hector, 23 from Spain, Gina, 17 from Luxembourg, Marta, 25 from Poland/Germany and Terry, 23 and me, Valerie, 19 from Germany.

Due to geographical status we missed Nic, Sophia, Ilmari and Teo from other parts of Europe who sadly couldn’t manage to come to Brussls.

On Friday evening we arrived at Gare du Nord, Brussels and tried to orientate during the night in the streets of Brussels. When we met finally the others, at the Youth Hostel, from the Working Groups Climate Change and Green Economy, there was already a police officer taking ID’s from our colleagues. A thief broke a hole into the window of the youth hostel and managed to steal many things, from clothings to laptops by the working group participants. That was not a good start!

During the further evening we recovered ourselves at a beer in bar, where we got to know each other more.

Saturday morning we went drowsy through the town to our working place: the FYEG office. Located 50 meters above the ground level in a high tower at Place Flagey, we had a good view over the roofs of Brussels and the near market. In the beginning of our work I made a presentation about gender equality and gender mainstreaming in the EU. I spoke much and my mouth got more and more dry, but afterwards everyone knew about the progress of women rights, I hope.

It was actually very good, to know about how much the European Union enforces gender equality with recommending quotas or the right to accuse everyone of discrimination in front of the European Court of Justice.

Then Adela told us about gender mainstreaming in her country. It was shocking to hear that Slovakia hasn’t even define the case of sexual abuse in their convention and got no university where you can apply for gender studies.

After the sandwich lunch, all of the Netherlands finally arrived and we moved to the tiny office of FYEG because other Working Groups also wanted space. We made an expectation round and agreed on our main focus: activities. Terry wrote down a great activity plan of the rest of 2010 and now we try to influence the Structure Meeting of FYEG on gender issues, start an attempt to work together with the gender group of Global Young Greens and prepare something for the international day of violence against women! We also want to prepare something for the topic “HIV and reproductive rights” which has a international day in December.

Then, I am very proud to say that everyone agreed to me becoming coordinator (there was no other who wanted to do it).

In Groups we prepared the application for an Intersectionality seminar in Vienna and a study session in Strasbourg over gender in the labour market. A lot of ideas came up what we can find out over maternity protection, gender pay gap and more. We hope that Youth in Action program will acknowledge our ideas and finance the whole thing!

Saturday evening the usual procedure went on: in a restaurant we had a tasty vegetarian casserole and afterwards we headed to a bar. The nights in the hostel were frantically busy, because we’ve got a 6-bed-room. I woke up when others came in the middle of the night of their bar trip, the cars on the street were loud, someone snored…. But all in all one could really say that we liked each other, had a lot of fun and had a good taste of humour. My male roommates were in such a good mood that they agreed after I was much nerved of all the sounds of the night, that there a two models of women: Either there a nice, stupid and say never something or they are intelligent and behave like a dictator. The protest of mine I don’t have to mention.

Tired but very motivated we continued Sunday morning with our communication structure and there are now two FYEG Mailing lists on Gender one intern and one public. There we discuss gender issues with everyone who registers on this list!

There was a also a big debate over quota in the coffee break. The Netherlands were strongly opposed to, whereas the gender working group women were strongly in favor of it. Later on, we learned that only Young Greens in Spain and Germany got 50+ quota. I think the use of the quota instrument will be a huge topic worth discussing in our work throughout the year.

We build up a general view over structure of our national green organization and it was pretty interesting to see how the others are organised and how we can spread our gender working.. In conclusion one can say that Germany got the biggest Young Green Organisation whereas in Spain you’ve got only 3 to 4 local Groups. Luxembourgian Young Greens are strongly connected to the “old” Green Party, Netherlands got a female spokesperson but in the steering committee 6 men and 4 women, whereas in Slovakia there are commissions instead of working groups and their basic is the local group meeting in Bratislava.

Then we divided Europe up to our responsible areas. For example are Ahmed and Gina responsible for the contact to member organizations of the British Isles, while Ilmari helds contact to Scandinavian Young Greens.

Monday morning we visited the EFA/European Greens Bureau, next to the European Parliament. There we split again in groups. The funny thing was a telephone under the table which we frequently threw down with our feet. With a lot of laughing and Terry sleeping on every ground she can find, we finished the applications.

In the European Parliament we visited Delegate Ska Keller, 28, Member of Grüne Jugend Germany/Europeans Green. She told us about her 80-hours week, nevertheless liking of her work and her favor of the quota instrument.

After watching the empty plenary, we got motivated to watch live stream in internet all plenary debates and ballot in every language (Swedish was very funny to listen).

After a final evaluation round we said goodbye, went satisfied home and are now eager to work with our working group member which I like personally very much now!