• 16 September 2022

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    Posteado en : Opinion

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    Caring for those who care for us: mental health in the security forces

    Police officers can develop mental and physical health problems due to the traumas they face during their career. Understanding and learning how to manage stress helps to prevent, recognise or avoid misbehaviour that undermines public trust in law enforcement. How do we address mental health in law enforcement?

    Valentina Salvato, project officer of the project Promoting community policing in Lebanon, co-led by the FIIAPP, reflects on the importance of paying attention to mental health in police forces and the action developed by the project through various training courses for this purpose.

    Why is this approach necessary?

    Being a police officer means being exposed on a daily basis to traumatic events that can endanger their own life: accidents, violence, critical situations and emergencies, natural disasters… All of these entail risks that can affect the mental health of any person. Moreover, we must take into account the current context of Lebanon, a country affected by an unprecedented severe political, economic and financial crisis and a series of traumatic events – the demonstrations of October 2019, the Beirut port explosion in August 2020 and the consequent worsening of the Covid-19 pandemic – which have had a direct impact on the lives of citizens, their behaviour, their psychological stability and their mental health. 

    How do we address mental health within the security forces?
    Cuidar de quien nos cuida: la salud mental en las fuerzas de seguridad
    The Chief Inspector of the Spanish National Police and director of the project, Joaquín Plasencia García (left), with one of the Lebanese officers who participated in the training in Aramoun.

    From the project Support to community policing in Lebanon, we seek to shed light on the issue of mental health in the security forces: a problem that is often ignored, unknown or even rejected. However, the truth is that police officers can develop mental and physical health problems due to the traumas they face during their career. Understanding and learning to manage stress helps to prevent, recognise or avoid misbehaviour that undermines public confidence in law enforcement. As the chief inspector of the Spanish National Police and director of the project, Joaquín Plasencia García, points out, “if a police officer loses the trust of citizens, he loses everything”.  

    For this reason, we support the Lebanese police in order to implement a preventive and psycho-educational strategy with psychological tools and methodologies to prevent, protect and resolve possible stress situations. 

    Thanks to the trainings we have offered in Lebanon, such as the last one at the Internal Security Forces Academy (Aramoun), 63 police officers have received tools to prevent and deal with stress situations, conflict resolution, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anger management or emotion control. This mental health training is also an excellent form of primary prevention, as it increases the knowledge, awareness and resilience of all officers, achieving a direct impact on citizen care, as it reduces and prevents episodes of misconduct in the security forces.  

    By caring for the well-being of those who care for us, citizens receive better care and service. 

  • 22 August 2022

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    Posteado en : Opinion

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    “Migration is an opportunity”

    Peggy Martinello is the Director of Public Administration and Social Affairs at FIIAPP. Part of her work consists of promoting specific migration policies in the world, including this perspective in each of the norms, laws and social policies that are promoted. As a migrant herself, she now reflects on her own experience and on the importance of building and sharing public policies to improve people's lives

    I am French and have been living in Spain for almost two decades. I am a migrant, a foreigner, but I have been extremely lucky to have the support of a legal framework that has allowed me to settle, to study, to work, to access the same rights and public services as any Spanish citizen.

    Before me, my maternal grandparents also migrated, from impoverished rural Portugal in the 1950s, to a France in full economic expansion after World War II. As did my paternal great-grandparents, who fled fascist Italy in the 1920s. They did not have as many opportunities, neither in their migratory route, nor in their reception, nor in their integration. I am constantly reminded of the importance of institutionality and public policies that, from the territorial space, need to be built and shared with others to improve systems.  

    Migration is an opportunity and cooperation is an axis for articulating societies and institutions in countries of origin, destination and transit. This decentralised cooperation is a privileged space to contribute to the construction of operational responses to the challenges of human mobility. 

    There are three elements that seem to me to be particularly important when analysing the reality of migration. These are the multidimensionality of the phenomenon; the need to move away from linear analytical frameworks that associate, for example, economic development in countries of origin with the reduction of migratory movements; and, finally, the importance of policy coherence. 

    In addition, there is another perspective that I would like to raise: the importance of public technical cooperation, based on the experience of public management, particularly at the territorial level. 

    I believe that it is particularly relevant to address responses to the challenges of mobility from the territorial level because it is the space of proximity, where attention to migrants, their protection, their inclusion, where diasporas working with countries of origin meet, where public services are connected, where education and training for employment are developed.

    In this sense, the role of decentralised cooperation makes a lot of sense, as it can weave around its territorial added value. In other words, local and regional authorities can focus their cooperation on those areas of public management where they have the greatest expertise or experience.

    Peggy Martinello. Director of Public Administration and Social Affairs at FIIAPP

  • 07 June 2022

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    Posteado en : Opinion

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    “We want to ensure that there are female police officers to care for victims.”

    La situación inestable del Líbano o el contexto social del país visibilidad de este problema, mientras que los abusos domésticos siguen creciendo.  

    In a country affected by multiple problems and continuous crises – financial, political and social – violence against women continues to receive neither the attention nor the necessary political reaction. The social context, deeply centered on family and patriarchal clans, hinders the visibility of this problem, while domestic abuse continues to grow.

    In the last 12 months, the number of domestic violence incidents increased from 747 to 1,468, according to statistics collected by the Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF).  This increase, attributed to the country’s economic and financial crisis and the United Nations’ so-called “shadow pandemic”, in reference to the coronavirus, is an entrenched scourge in Lebanese society.

    In recent years, the demands of numerous social groups have achieved significant, but still insufficient, progress. In December, Lebanon amended its domestic violence law to criminalize abuse “resulting” from marriage. Despite this, the updated legislation does not clearly cover violence against divorced women, nor does it criminalize marital rape, nor does it prevent discrimination against women in divorce and child custody disputes.

    Most of these crimes remain silenced within the family, while the cases that do make it into the public eye suffer from the perpetuated culture of victim-blaming.

    Through our Community Policing project and thanks to the support provided by the Family and Women’s Care Unit (UFAM) of the CNP, we are helping to improve police investigation and care for victims of domestic violence in Lebanon.

    We are promoting the creation of the Domestic Violence Unit within the ISF and the assignment of at least two police officers trained in victim care and investigation of these types of crimes in the 12 territorial police stations in the country. We want to ensure that there are female police officers to attend to victims, as currently there are only men, and we aspire to provide more comprehensive care to all victims, institutionalizing the provision of social, health, psychological and legal services to all victims.

    With the strong commitment of our entire Community Policing team and the support of the Lebanese police, we will continue to fight domestic violence and train police officers to improve care and service to all victims.

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  • 07 April 2022

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    Posteado en : Opinion

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    About the human and the political in the territory

    El territorio donde nace cada persona influye en las oportunidades y en los retos que tendrá que afrontar a lo largo de toda su vida. Costa Rica acaba de aprobar una Ley de Desarrollo Regional para reducir las brechas territoriales en el país con el apoyo de la FIIAPP a través del programa de cooperación EUROsociAL+.

    Nine years in legislative terms is nothing. But this time it is the time that lasted a process that led to a State Policy on the territory that will probably change the lives of Costa Ricans. This is its history. In 2013, the Costa Rican Ministry of Planning submitted a request to the EUROsociAL program aimed at the elaboration of Regional Development Plans with the objective of reducing the significant asymmetries and territorial gaps existing in Costa Rica. These plans were intended to influence the formulation of the National Development Plan, which was in the making at the time. However, the implementation of the Regional Development Plans not only activated a decisive regionalization process, but also significantly boosted the institutionalization of a Regional and Cohesion Policy in the country, with budgetary allocations and specific actions to address territorial gaps and the challenge of equity.

    The territory where you are born should not mark your destiny

    Since then, Costa Rica has focused on this policy with a national approach, but with the regions as protagonists to strengthen democratic coexistence, social stability and economic growth.  The region, as a subnational space, has simultaneous proximity to the local and national levels, and is the ideal place to generate synergies between the two spheres through the adoption of combined approaches.

    In short, there was a firm commitment that the territory where one was born should not determine the destiny of its people.  People had greater or lesser opportunities and greater or lesser access to public services depending on the region in which they lived. It was not the same to live in the Central Region, which is the most industrially developed, as in Huetar Norte or Huetar Caribe where the infant mortality rate increased substantially or where job opportunities were comparatively reduced¹.

    Costa Rica is a country with a history of citizen participation; however, citizens have complained that their involvement in decision-making is limited. This, in addition to the fact that the population, especially those living in areas far from the center of San José, feels a great distance from public institutions, which makes access to services more difficult and, ultimately, leads to greater disaffection with the public sector².

    Accompanying a State policy

    EUROsociAL+ has been accompanying this process, giving it continuity throughout two presidential mandates (of different political color) and today celebrates that this policy is materializing as a State policy, where Executive and Legislative go hand in hand to try to improve people’s lives, providing solutions from the bodies closest to the citizens. But perhaps the most important thing is that, at a time when it seems that what separates us weighs more than what unites us, the political representatives of different forces, working together, have supported a bill that will probably mark a turning point in improving the conditions and quality of life of the entire population.

    Experiences drawn from European regional policy
    Experiences such as the European Regional Policy itself, which has had a very positive impact on territorial cohesion and the development of European regions in all countries, or that of the Spanish Congress and Senate, which together with its Ministry of Territorial Policy³ were part of an exchange with Costa Rican parliamentarians, or the experience of Chile’s SUBDERE, inspired the essence of this Law in Costa Rica.

    The approval of the Law marks a new stage not only in regional planning in Costa Rica: it also entails a renewed public governance that is key in the post-COVID recovery and reconstruction phase. The regional development process it promotes must intensify and deepen relations of equality between men and women, generating equal opportunities and rights (Art. 4). The creation of the Regional Development Agencies (AREDES) will guarantee that the decision making of the projects to be financed will come from the citizens themselves. And the institutions will be obliged to have a reliable presence in the regions, ensuring proximity to the people, wherever they live.

    By Bárbara Gómez Valcárcel, head of Territorial Development of the EUROsociAL+ program at the FIIAPP.

    About the Regional Development Law (10.096)

    Source:

    1. (1) MIDEPLAN with information from ENAHO, INEC. (2) MIDEPLAN with information from MEP.  Directorate of Management and Quality Evaluation. (3) MIDEPLAN with information from the register of vital statistics, INEC. (4) Foreign Trade Promoter (PROCOMER).
    2. Latinobarómetro 2020: https://www.latinobarometro.org/latContents.jsp
    3. At the time Ministry of Territorial Affairs and Public Function.

  • 10 March 2022

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    Posteado en : Sin categorizar

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    Ukraine’s digital dream

    On February 24, the worst predictions were confirmed, also for the FIIAPP team in Ukraine, which has been working there since 2010. This has been reported in Computerworld

    On February 24, the worst forecasts were confirmed, also for the FIIAPP team in Ukraine, which has been working there since 2010, currently with the projects “Strengthening the State Aviation Administration” and “Supporting e-Government and Digital Economy in Ukraine”.

    Adrian Perez, from the EU4DigitalUA project, told the FIIAPP team that “we continue with our commitment and work to move forward with the project and thus contribute our bit to Ukrainian society”.  So much so that Computerworld has echoed the importance of the European project co-led by the FIIAPP, and has talked to us about how the country’s digital future could be diminished after the tough situation in which it is immersed. Its manager, Pablo Ródenas, tells us about it.

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  • 08 March 2022

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    Posteado en : Opinion

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    Vis à Vis. “In FIIAPP we call it igualdad”

    Sonia and Peggy work in the area of Public Administration and Social Affairs (APAS) at FIIAPP. Part of their work consists of promoting specific equality policies in the world. They also strive to integrate a gender perspective in each of the norms, laws and social policies they promote. A few days ago, in the coffee space in the office, they reflected on the concept of EQUALITY, in its external but also internal dimension, making self-criticism and pointing out the pending challenges in the organisation

    We are two professionals working in international cooperation and we are two parents. Not always in this order. In fact, almost always the other way around. We both work at the FIIAPP, and one of our functions is to encourage actions that promote greater equality between women and men. We are working to ensure that the adoption of the gender approach in our institution is not merely rhetorical and that we move on to effective implementation. In the FIIAPP, there are many of us.

    Although we are women, our awareness of this issue has been progressive and parallel to the fact that, on a personal level, we have been suffering more explicitly from these disadvantages and inequalities, and we have realised that the causes that provoke them are not so easy to confront and transform. Because these causes are so little visible, pernicious, anchored in everyday life, so deeply rooted in social and organisational culture that it is difficult to move the lines.

    On the occasion of 8 March, we challenged each other on the gender approach. We wanted to provoke a face-to-face meeting, a vis a vis, without intermediation, and without it being a 5-minute coffee between two colleagues and friends who, taking advantage of a break, make a disclaimer. It is necessary to verbalise, it is necessary to make visible, it is necessary to share and it is necessary to stop and think. That is what we invite you to do.

    According to the RAE, to focus means to direct attention or interest towards an issue or problem. What we try to do with our work: to focus public policies towards gender equality. The RAE also says that it is to bring the image of an object produced in the focus of a lens into sharp focus. Therefore, we have to equip ourselves with special lenses that allow us to analyse in order to understand the system in which women and men are embedded.

    Sonia: At what point did being a feminist become meaningful to you? I mean when have you become more aware of the inequalities that women have to face?

    Peggy: I was born in France. I grew up in a rural, mountainous, humble environment, and was lucky enough to ride the worn-out social lift, to take advantage of the welfare system and to exemplify the misnamed meritocracy. But my journey was an exception, and I saw that what Pierre Bourdieu had identified in the 1960s as the social and cultural reproduction of inequalities was still a reality. In this sense, my prisms for reading inequality had always been economic, social and cultural. I had not yet put on the gender lens. The turning point came with motherhood. Motherhood puts the issue of care at the centre of your life, as it does at other moments throughout the life cycle. And with it, two other issues that generate invisible inequalities: the question of the use of time and the question of mental workload. These inequalities manifest themselves most strongly in the domestic sphere, but end up having repercussions in the work sphere as well. Adaptation of the timetable, greater productivity, minimisation (or invisibilisation) of the space for care, management of the work and family agenda… saturated minds, tired bodies… From that moment on, I began to approach and read many situations through the lens of gender, and of the differentiated treatment and impacts between women and men. I think that when my daughter was born, my feminism was born too.

    Related to this, do you think that gender equality is still a political or party political choice? It is striking that in democratic societies it is questioned whether fighting discriminatory treatment, lack of opportunities or violence against women should be a public objective that falls under the responsibility of any state.

    Sonia: Indeed, the equality of women and men is a universal principle enshrined in the constitutions of contemporary democracies and in the most important international human rights texts. But gender inequality, to a greater or lesser extent, persists today all over the world and numerous empirical evidences show that these inequalities, moreover, are obstructing the progress and social and economic development of countries. A state must be on the side of rights. Therefore, gender equality policies should be state policies. It is true that in recent times conservative forces have popularised the expression “gender ideology”, based on misrepresentation and misinformation, and shielded by a discourse in defence of children and the family. But we are not talking about dogmatic issues: what the gender approach does is to provide us with certain analytical tools to better understand social reality. It provides us, as we said before, with lenses or glasses without which it is difficult to analyse the differentiated impact of any event on men and women, and to adopt measures that take into account the specificities of women.

    We are certainly moving forward, but fast enough, how do you see it in your particular area of work, and would you like to go faster?

    Peggy: Obviously in the APAS area we have a more favourable scenario to address gender gaps. By supporting social policies (equality, employment, social protection and care, health, education) we act on the mechanisms that resolve equality issues. On the other hand, by accompanying the modernisation of the state, public innovation, or multilevel governance, we can work on the design of an inclusive institutional framework that takes into account specific needs linked to equality gaps in institutions and territories. But the other areas of the FIIAPP also accompany the equality agenda: gender budgeting, the fight against climate change, productive development, inclusive justice, attention to women victims of trafficking, etc. In recent years, I believe there have been important advances. Several programmes have developed mainstreaming strategies and toolboxes, including EUROsociAL+, EUROclima, El PAcCTO, Bridging the Gap, Convivir sin discriminación or COPOLAD, to name a few.

    However, we still have a long way to go. In some internal reflections we have discussed some challenges. The first of these is the need for a mainstreaming strategy. The second is training, for all staff. The third challenge, although perhaps the first because of its importance, is the need to clearly define the space we want to give to equality in the institution: do we want it to be a strategic principle of action for the FIIAPP? can we demand that all programmes incorporate this perspective and be accountable for their actions to improve equality? can equality be a conditionality in our dialogue with partner countries? and with our public administrations? Depending on where we place our compass, we will be able to address gender equality in greater or lesser depth.

    One issue that is much debated is whether to opt for gender mainstreaming or for specific actions. From your experience in EUROsociAL, which is the most relevant strategy?

    Sonia: I would say both, and I’ll explain. Gender mainstreaming aims to analyse the differentiated impacts on men and women. It is a transformative approach that focuses on relational differences, challenging both genders. This implies extending the approach to all sectors of public policy, including all state actors. However, we should not neglect specific actions aimed at women. To do so would mean weakening the institutional framework for women, i.e. the mechanisms for the advancement of women, and neglecting policies to promote equal opportunities that have had positive effects in correcting women’s disadvantages in relation to men. On the other hand, mainstreaming has the challenge of intersectionality, insofar as inequalities are multidimensional, how to address the interaction of sex and gender, with race, social class, territory or other categories of differentiation in people’s lives or in social practices. We would say that it aims to go beyond the transversality that starts from male-female inequality, to address those other characteristics/identities whose convergence/interaction produces structural situations of exclusion or vulnerability. A clear example: the rate of gender violence among immigrant women has increased considerably in recent years. How do we tackle this problem?

    I would like to raise another issue, perhaps self-critically. We see that discourse and practices are not always in line with the promotion of pro-gender equality in international development. Of course, the FIIAPP is an institution in which the majority of us are women, and this has contributed to its policies of conciliation and co-responsibility, and in which the highest management body is occupied by women. However, there is still much to be done to incorporate the gender perspective into the organisational culture.

    Peggy: To change culture it is essential to change structures, frameworks, and to push “from the top”.  But sometimes the push comes “from below”. In the FIIAPP, there has been a strong push for equality from the programmes, and from the people committed to the issue. For example, in order to draw up the first equality plan, a gender group was formed, made up of trained professionals who were sensitised and willing to improve the approach to equality in the foundation. Intense collaborative work was carried out, accompanying the institution to achieve a plan that responds to two dimensions: the internal one, to promote equality within the institution, and the external one, to rigorously incorporate the gender perspective in all the projects we manage. We have to work on both dimensions. The internal one affects the strategy, communication, HR, service contracting processes, the information system, data analysis, etc. The external one affects the cycle of dialogue, formulation and management of projects and knowledge. Drawing up the Equality Plan has been an important milestone, but it is not enough. Its implementation in 2022 must mark a firm step towards prioritising gender equality in the FIIAPP.

    Sonia González
    Democratic Governance Coordinator at FIIAPP
    Peggy Martinello
    Director of Public Administration and Social Affairs at the FIIAPP