Women in politics are still a rare species… in Hungary, the host country of FYEG’s “Women Power!” Study Session, women can only be found on 9.1% of the parliamentary seats. And even Sweden, with about 45% parliamentarians being women; has not yet reached the 50% landmark. And even in the Greens, one of the most progressive and feminist parties that can be found in Europe; and even in the Young Greens, who are supposed to be the most progressive part of the party, equality is not reached yet. Where there are quotas, it’s often hard to fulfil them; where there is good intention, there is often no success and even where there are clear methods, they do not always work. So, there are still loads of things to do and we wanted to make a start.
Gender equality and women’s rights are clearly an issue that both sexes have to deal with, and probably men more than women for it’s the male part of the world that obviously has a problem with equality. However, women are the ones being mostly affected by the inequality and this is why FYEG organised – probably for the first time in its history – a seminar only for women. 117 applied and in the end we were 35 women from all over Europe. All of us are active in political or social work and all of us face discrimination on a day to day basis and therefore have a lot of experience to share.
We met in Budapest, at the European Youth Centre for the study session that was organised by FYEG in partnership with the Council of Europe. The centre is fully equipped and nearly perfect for seminars like ours.
In the first part of the week we analyzed the obstacles that we face in politics and economy, through stereotypes enhanced by media and leading to discriminations. Our first speaker for this part were Dolors Camats, a member of the Catalan Parliament who recommended us to be very clear in what we want to achieve and what our strengths and weaknesses are in order to work on ourselves and to achieve our goals. The second expert we invited was Beata Maciewskaja from the Polish Green Party who has been working in journalism for many years and explained to us how stereotypes in the media function.
The second part of the week was devoted to training ourselves. We had a day-long session with Sabine Finzi from Belgium, who is a communication expert focussed on women’s training and we had a great day with her, analyzing examples of famous women holding speeches; defining the key points in communication and trying it ourselves.
Last but not least, we went on to see how we can go on from where we are and how we can change the world. We discussed and carried a statement that summarizes our demands which can be found at the FYEG website. We held a skills market in which everybody of us could present her skills and offer to the others to learn from it. These skills were also helpful for the last day’s project development during which working groups developed new ideas for genderrelated projects and actions. The outcomes were numerous and include for example a feminist festival, a network for training and a gender working group within FYEG. Of course, we will followup these ideas and take care that they get realised as soon as possible. If you want to find out more about the study session as a whole or the project proposals in particular, check the FYEG website for the report on the Study Session which will be published there in the end of April.
To conclude; it has been a wonderful and motivating and inspiring week which I hope will have some impact on our future. I would like to thank the organizers from FYEG and the Council of Europe, the participants and everybody who contributed to this great study session!