11 July 2021
Interview with María Eugenia Rodríguez Palop, vice-president of the European Parliament’s Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality
On the occasion of the Generation Equality Forum, the global meeting held in Paris to promote gender equality after the setbacks of the pandemic, in association with the European Union EUROsociAL+ programme, we interviewed María Eugenia Rodríguez Palop, vice president of the Commission on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality to analyse some of the main challenges.
Can we be satisfied with the new European Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025?
This strategy has been a real step forward as it considers violence against women in a very comprehensive way. It has ratified the Istanbul Convention, underscoring the stance of the governments that have not ratified it and that promote disinformation campaigns about this convention in the European Union. I do not think that we are going to see a comprehensive directive that covers all male violence, but steps are definitely being taken in the recognition of gender violence as a European crime.
It also seeks to put forward specific measures to eliminate all forms of workplace segregation that exist in the employment market. There are completely male and female sectors that include cleaners, supermarket cashiers, health workers and workers in social services. These women are not only underpaid, they are undervalued from a social and cultural point of view. This is one of the questions that the strategy addresses.
We want care services to be looked after, to be public, accessible and universal. We want working from home not to be used to overload women and for the work of women in the world of care to be valued, as well as attending to their working conditions and health. We also need to ensure that a greater and better representation of women is achieved in the economic space and on the boards of directors.
Are we moving towards a European Pact for care services?
I would say without any doubt that progress is being made because before they were not even considered whereas now they are. It should also be pointed out that the social pillar of the European Union, which was the poor relation when compared to EU law and politics, is today much stronger. The minimum wage and wage transparency directive, which is being discussed in the European Parliament, will undoubtedly improve the lives of people and the lives of women in particular because it will expose and hopefully even eliminate the 14% salary gap that exists today between men and women. This gap then translates into a pension gap of 37%, which means that elderly women are far worse off than their male counterparts.
In addition, the conciliation directive has been strengthened, meaning that more pressure will be placed on countries to implement it. This is very important in the world of care, which is a world of women and which is completely feminised.
The segregation suffered by women in the public and work space is due to the overload of domestic tasks, making it essential to legislate on the co-responsibility of women and men within the home.
In short, it seems to me that we are certainly closer to a Europe of care than we were before.
At FIIAPP we work a lot with Latin America. What challenges do we share with the region in terms of gender issues?
I think there are many challenges that we share with Latin America. First and foremost is the fight against male violence. as well as the fight for sexual and reproductive rights. A week ago, Parliament struggled to draw up a resolution to urge all Member States to guarantee the right to safe and legal abortion. In Latin America, progress has been made in Argentina and hopefully in Chile as well. But the extent to which reproductive rights are violated in some regions like Central America is very worrying.
I would say that equality between men and women has not been achieved anywhere. Although Europe is moving forward and we must be optimistic, it is moving at a snail’s pace – something that the European Institute for Gender Equality has strived to highlight. The levels of poverty suffered by women in Latin America are clearly not comparable to what women suffer in the European Union, but, once again, the challenge to achieve equality remains in a number of places. There may be different dimensions, with the problem existing to a varying extent; nevertheless there are objectives that we can absolutely share with Latin American women. In the International Women’s Day strikes on 8 May, this global dimension was evident, as women face very similar problems all over the world.
25 March 2021
The head of the Human Rights and Equality Area of the National Police, Commissioner María Dolores López, analyses gender inequality and tells us about the work of the Police to combat this problem
A conversation on gender violence and the work of the National Police to combat it with the head of the Human Rights and Equality Area, Commissioner María Dolores López, with the collaboration of América Pérez, Chief Inspector of the National Office for Gender Equality and Leticia Matarranz, Chief Inspector of the National Human Rights Office.
Is there a specific kind of violence that is committed against women? If so, why?
Yes, there is a specific kind of violence against women, simply because they are women. It manifests itself as the most brutal symbol of the inequality existing in our society, which is historical and which constitutes one of the most flagrant assaults on human rights.
This violence is rooted in gender inequalities that have been present for centuries in our society through stereotypes, gender roles and sexist ideas that we have been falsely taught about men and women.
When talking about violence against women, is it important to emphasise that there is physical but also psychological violence? Would you say that there are other areas or forms of violence against women?
Of course abuse is not always physical or only physical, and the scars are not always visible. It is important to bear in mind that in addition to physical abuse, there are other forms of violence, such as psychological, sexual, labour, economic, institutional and symbolic violence, which feed off the stereotypes, messages and values that they transmit and contribute to the continuing repetition of relationships based on inequality. There is now also talk of obstetric violence, where a person giving birth experiences mistreatment or disrespect of their rights, including being forced into procedures against their will, at the hands of medical personnel. Such violence has its roots in the disregard for women’s rights in a natural process such as childbirth and ends up affecting the right to privacy and physical integrity in some cases.
What role do public institutions, specifically the National Police, have in the fight against this problem?
Public institutions have a transcendental role in the fight against this scourge, not only because the constitutional mandate imposes the obligation to promote the conditions for freedom and equality to be real and effective and to remove the obstacles that prevent it on the public powers or as a result of the international commitments assumed by Spain, such as the Istanbul Convention, but also because the State has a duty to protect all its citizens. Spain’s public institutions have assumed this obligation since the promulgation of Organic Law 1/2004, which was a pioneering advance in the comprehensive protection of women against structural inequality linked to the lack of economic, social and cultural protection, including the development of specific preventive strategies on the matter, with the approval of the State Pact against Gender Violence.
In addition, the National Police, as part of the public institutions, and reinforcing its commitment to the defence of human rights, and particularly against any violation of them for reasons of gender, has established the promotion of comprehensive police action in the field of violence against women is an essential objective within its Institutional Strategic Plans.
Could you give some examples of the work of the Police against this violence?
In this context of prevention and fight against gender violence, and in order to improve the quality of service for victims, within Spain’s National Police, the first care services for women were created in 1986, known as SAM, which evolved into today’s Units of Attention to the Family and Women (UFAM) under the Judicial Police Area.
Based on the recognition of the uniqueness and complex characteristics of gender violence, the UFAM are specialised units that constitute the comprehensive police response service for dealing with gender violence, domestic violence, crimes against sexual freedom and crimes committed against minors.
Do you consider that society is committed to fighting violence against women?
Of course, society plays a fundamental role in combating this violence.
Despite the fact that Spain is a pioneer country in eradicating gender violence in all its forms and that society is committed to its eradication, data shows that there is still much work to be done. For this, an institutional, political and social consensus is needed that shows a seamless commitment of all the institutions to Spanish society.
To carry this out, it would be necessary to promote awareness-raising actions on the damage caused by inequality and violent behaviour, as has happened in recent campaigns in which the focus has been on the abuser and the victim’s environment.
It is crucial for victims to receive external support in escaping a situation of gender violence, as women who suffer it feel humiliated, having been isolated and had their self-esteem undermined in advance by the perpetrators. Faced with this scenario, the family and the victim’s most intimate circle have a privileged position to advise her and, if necessary, accompany her to report.
Although awareness should begin in the early stages of childhood, through education transmitted by families and should be reinforced in schools through the promotion of relationships based on respect and equality. Only if we act from the beginning will the fruits of prevention and awareness be obtained.
21 January 2021
Posteado en : Opinion
The MYPOL project has had to adapt to the outbreak of COVID-19 and the current situation in Myanmar in order to continue promoting the reform of its police force. María José Urgel, FIIAPP’s project coordinator, offers us an overview of MYPOL and the reassessment of its aims and activities.
MYPOL is a FIIAPP-led European delegated cooperation project tasked with providing support to the Myanmar Police, offering a preventive and effective service and respecting international standards, human rights and gender awareness.
In order to achieve this ambitious goal, two offices have been set up in the country, one in Yangon and one in Nay Pyi Taw. From the field and in coordination with the FIIAPP headquarters in Madrid, we have focused on several areas of police intervention: improvements to criminal investigation and crowd management, modernisation of human resources and professional training, improved accountability and legal frameworks and ensuring a closer relationship between the police, civil society and the media.
For a little over a year and a half, FIIAPP has also incorporated a gender perspective in MYPOL. Today, it has a gender strategy and a women, peace and security programme in place, mainstreaming gender in the five areas of intervention and implementing the entire strategy at the institutional level.
Four partner cooperation agencies cooperate on the project– NICO from Northern Ireland, GIZ from Germany, DCAF from Switzerland and CIVIPOL from France – who pass on specific technical knowledge to the Myanmar police with a main focus on training, preparation of procedural guides and protocols and awareness-raising activities.
The exchange between public administrations, a fundamental characteristic of FIIAPP, is provided by the Spanish National Police, which heads up the mass management area.
In order to understand the context of MYPOL, the country’s history should be taken into account. Much of the current situation has been shaped by long years of military dictatorship, a protracted civil war with various ethnic groups coexisting which is still to be resolved and big social and cultural barriers that hinder the equality sought for women. There is also significant poverty that has been accentuated by Myanmar’s internal conflicts.
Since 2011, the country has been transitioning towards democracy, a process that has yet to be consolidated. In recent years, ethnic tension in the north of Rakhine state, better known as the Rohingya crisis (the Rohingya being a Muslim minority in a predominantly Buddhist country), has seen a dramatic increase in violence in the area, adding to tensions between the international community and Myanmar.
COVID-19 and the initial underestimation of its impact took us by surprise, representing an additional challenge. Within a few months, many of the training activities had to be temporarily suspended due to restrictions imposed by the government. This also affected the joint dialogues between the representatives of MYPOL, the police and the authorities.
In addition, in recent months, the MYPOL project has had to work within a complex political climate prior to the elections held in Myanmar last November, with mobility restrictions due to COVID-19 and continued violence in some areas of the country.
Nevertheless, the ability to adapt to change and the creativity employed by the entire team in order to adjust the strategy for MYPOL has ensured that the implementation of our activities represents an important contribution to the country, without losing sight of the project’s initial objectives. After a great deal of internal reflection, the decision was made to focus efforts on the following areas, among others:
– The strengthening of our capacity within MYPOL in gender matters, seeking to ensure that the experts who lead the different thematic areas of the project identify the most important gender aspects on which to work and measure their impact. As part of this institutional reinforcement, we have implemented our own sexual harassment and discrimination policy which is mandatory for all MYPOL personnel and which has been accompanied by a series of awareness-raising courses.
– The preparation of information brochures and the consolidation of police action coronavirus protocols which have been distributed throughout the capital.
– The provision of virtual workshops to replace face-to-face activities.
– The preparation of election orientation guides for police trainers that have focused further on the protection of freedoms and human rights, respect for the media and the provision of a safe environment, especially for women.
– The preparation of forensic action manuals and protocols to apply gender perspectives in police interviews. Guidelines have been drawn up regarding police arrest, following international security and human rights standards.
– The creation of new bodies in MYPOL, including the Critical Incidental Management Team which is responsible for analysing the COVID-19 situation in the country and its impact on the evolution of the project.
– The renovation of police unit training facilities and the provision of the equipment required to carry out criminal investigations correctly.
As part of this drive to adapt to change, we have kept two elements very much in mind – the importance of establishing local alliances and the need to strengthen relationships with our four partners.
Local alliances have helped us understand the consequences of all these changing circumstances. We have increased the number of national advisers and advisers specialising in police and gender matters as well as strengthening our alliances with civil society, especially with women’s organisations that have worked on gender awareness within the police for many years.
Strengthening relationships with our counterparts has helped us to better understand how the different approaches and specialist areas of our partners can be used in a more strategic way in the face of the current situation.
FIIAPP has taken advantage of all the opportunities for improvement that have presented themselves, even in the most difficult moments for the project. We have learned that taking advantage of difficulties has helped us to learn lessons from the social change processes undertaken and identify our achievements, limitations and potential in order to improve our work, this being an area we will continue to be committed to.
María José Urgel, coordinator of the FIIAPP MYPOL project
25 November 2020
Posteado en : Reportage
The 25 of November is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. At the International and Ibero-American Foundation for Administration and Public Policies (FIIAPP), we took a look at the situation worldwide and the role of international cooperation with the gender specialist, Cecilia Güemes.
Approximately 15 million teenage women (15 to 19 years old) around the world have suffered forced sexual relations at some point in their lives according to UNICEF. Globally, one in three women has suffered physical or sexual violence, mainly from an intimate partner, according to the UN . A total of 72% of all victims of human trafficking globally are women and girls and four out of five women victims of trafficking are used for sexual exploitation according to UNODC. In addition, at least 200 million women and girls between the ages of 15 and 49 have been subjected to female genital mutilation in 30 countries where representative data is available according to UNICEF.
Faced with this reality, 25 November is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. A specific type of violence that is exercised against women due to the mere fact that they are women: ‘Violence against women is not something some group made up – it refers to a specific type of violence directed at women and based on historical structural factors and the construction of roles where control, domination, and invisibility or the assignment of a specific role in the social representation of women is sought’, according to the president of the Research Group on Government, Administration, and Public Policy (GIGAPP), Cecilia Güemes.
A doctor in political science and a lawyer, Güemes’s career has been spent in the field of research in matters such as social and political trust, public policies, and social cohesion. In addition, she collaborates with the Carolina Foundation and is the author of publications such as ‘Women in Ibero-America: Government Tools for a Change that Has Already Begun’ and ‘It will be Law.The Fight for the Legalisation of Abortion in Argentina’.
For this specialist, public institutions play a key role in combating gender-based violence, something reflected in the commitments adopted in 2015, when 193 countries pledged to work towards compliance with the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The fifth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) is to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. With this in mind, this SDG establishes a number of targets such as eliminating all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including human trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation and approving and strengthening sound policies and applicable laws to promote gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels. According to Güemes, concrete actions of governments affect and shape social reality, so she defends the need for women and the gender perspective to be part of policy-making, that the gender perspective be integrated into all government actions and all areas, ‘not only that there are specific institutions dedicated to gender issues’, but that a budget be allocated to design, implement, and evaluate policies with a gender perspective and, finally, that civil servants in charge of managing the public be trained in the gender perspective.
The FIIAPP’s Commitment
The FIIAPP, as a cooperation agency that works closely with public institutions, is aware of the role of the Foundation in promoting collaboration between different social agents to create an environment of peace and sustainable development, from a gender perspective. This approach is applied from programmes funded by the European Union in various sectors such as security, the fight against human trafficking, access to justice in an inclusive way, the fight against corruption, and the mitigation of climate change. Programmes such as EUROsociAL+, a programme managed by FIIAPP in collaboration with other European agencies, are prioritising the gender approach in their action plans.
This is also the case of the EUROCLIMA+ programme in Latin America, through which the integration and involvement of women in policy-making and decision-making regarding the effects of climate change are sought. They are not, however, the only projects that apply the gender perspective. European programmes such as EL PAcCTO and A-TIPSOM , which fight organised crime in Latin America and human trafficking in Nigeria, respectively, also apply working methods based on gender equality.
In this way, the FIIAPP reaffirms its commitment to eradicating violence against women and the key role of cooperation to combat this problem, something which Güemes agrees with: ‘International cooperation is key insofar as it is capable of contributing with economic, human, and cognitive resources to the development of public policy, in monitoring and evaluating actions, and in the use of best practices, especially in societies that are resistant to these topics, where social roles are normatively established’.
Reading to raise awareness this 25N
‘There are lots of books that I would recommend where you get a peek at the change of era and in which the external and internal struggles that occupy women today are portrayed’, explains this Carolina Foundation collaborator. ‘Two Argentine authors that I really liked are Luciana Peker (Putita golosa and La revolucion de las hijas) and Tamara Tenenbaum (El fin del amor). I also recommend following her work on social media’.
In and from Europe, Güemes recommends Vanessa Springora’s recent work, Consent. ‘I liked it a lot as it reveals the hypocrisies and contradictions in Western societies’.
Finally, regarding contemporary authors, the president of GIGAPP recommends reading women authors who describe the tensions suffered by women who seek to question or break with gender roles and contribute to the work, not only of deconstructing, but of building a new society in their stories. ‘Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Olga Tokarczuk, Siri Hustvedt, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Vivian Gornick, to name some of the ones I liked the most’, she concludes.
By Cristina Blasco, ( @cbm_cris ). FIIAPP communication team.
22 August 2019
Posteado en : Opinion
Sandra Zayas, prosecutor of Guatemala and EL PAcCTO collaborator talks about developments in the role of female gang members in Central America
Prevention: a priority
Prevention. This is the area we must focus on in Central American countries because, mathematically, three of the six countries in the region have had a problem with gangs for many years and the situation is emerging in the other three, meaning they will be able to achieve very different results if they work on social prevention and crime.
When you look at the active participation of female gang members, it has changed a lot: from women being the victims of coercion to actually joining these criminal groups. In some countries in the region, they have even become responsible for areas such as logistics and finance.
We must not forget to differentiate between gangs in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, some very powerful such as Mara SalvaTrucha and Barrio 18, and mafia-related gangs in Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama, some emerging and others with very specific purposes.
Gangs in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras have more female gang members and several studies on this topic have found that Guatemala is the Central American country with the highest rate of gender inequality, classified as “high”, El Salvador and Honduras as “medium”, and Costa Rica and Panama as “low.” This means fewer job opportunities, less parity, a more serious social gender problem. This gender inequality in our countries coincides with the facts presented at the Workshop on Female Gang members held this spring in San Salvador and organised by EL PAcCTO, a project funded by the European Union and managed by FIIAPP and Expertise France, with support from IILA and the Camões Institute.
It is necessary to distinguish between female participation in gangs as perpetrators, accomplices or to cover up crimes by establishing different penalties for each case. We would also highlight that, in matters of drug trafficking, extortion and money laundering, female gang members take part in activities necessary to commit one or more crimes.
In addition, drug trafficking crimes have led to extortion and murder (“hitmen”) in many of our countries, where female gang members are heavily involved. In Guatemala, there have already been three cases of female gang members who have set off grenades on public transport buses. Therefore, the participation of female gang members in criminal organisations is a fact.
When it comes to the police, prosecutors and judges, there is no evidence that they distinguish between women and female gang members, with the exception of El Salvador and Costa Rica, where they have innovative internal protocols for treating female members of organised crime.
Female gang members in prisons
The United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and the Non-custodial measures for Women Offenders (the Bangkok Rules) recommend reducing imprisonment sentences for women through corrective measures without custody, taking into account maternity, the separation of mothers from minor children or even mothers who are being held with their children in prison centres. Once again, Costa Rica has managed to reduce the number of women prisoners, taking these criteria into account and using alternative measures to prison in all cases of women who are deprived of liberty. The other countries of the Isthmus only separate the women belonging to different gangs in different prisons in case of conflict between rival gangs. Then there is the matter of the non-existence of positive social reintegration for both women and men in most countries. It is more difficult to reintegrate female gang members into society, especially with an “aggravating factor” when gang women are protected witnesses or effective collaborators, betraying their “family”, their “gang”.
There is little money allocated to invest in this type of problems, total or little political will to create positive regulations, and shared indicators and statistics throughout the legal systems. Specialised means of investigation and above all, a desire for change are also required.
We know that we need intelligence offices, inter-institutional protocols, committed administrators of justice with sufficient tools to act effectively, inter-institutional and international cooperation, data registers and specific indicators for the problems to be solved, because all of this needs to be measurable.
I conclude therefore with the 5Ws: What do we need to do? Work on this problem before it spreads to other countries and becomes as serious as it already is in some regions. How? By working together with defined government policies, with intelligence, registers and measurements. Why? For a better future for our countries. Who? All the inhabitants who love their country. Where? Around the world and when? Right now.
21 March 2019
Today, 21 March, is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. To celebrate this date, we are having a chat with Lucía Molo, technician of the “Living without discrimination” project.
Today is International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. What do you think international days are for?
One of the objectives of the initiative promoted by the United Nations to mark international days in the calendar is to draw attention and raise public awareness to a problem. These are issues where there is still much work to be done, which is why they are the perfect excuse to remind society and governments that they need to act.
What is racial discrimination?
According to European Union regulations, direct racial discrimination exists whena person is treated less favourably based on their race, colour, language, religion, nationality or national or ethnic origin than another person in a comparable situation. It also recognises that discrimination can exist when people are treated differently in similar situations, but also when they are treated identically in different situations. This latter form of discrimination is called “indirect” because it is not the treatment that differs, but its effects, which affect different people with different characteristics in different ways.
Every day there are discriminatory incidents due to racial or ethnic origin, affecting refugees and immigrants, the Roma community, as well as other vulnerable groups. If we stop, for example, to read job vacancies, we are certain to find one which clearly specifies a preference for candidates of Spanish origin, thus excluding the foreign population.
How engaged do you think the population is with this issue? More or less than before?
I believe that society, generally speaking, does not intentionally or voluntarily discriminate against people of another race or ethnicity. Factors such as ignorance, fear of differences, prejudice and misinformation lead to discrimination. But I also believe that these situations arise as a result of insufficient political involvement that should, in my view, focus more efforts on prevention, public awareness and information.
In fact, the United Nations has acknowledged the rise in nationalist populism, with extremist ideologies of racial supremacy and superiority, thus producing more racist movements. In the latest UN Special Rapporteur’s report on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance of August 2018, she explains the contemporary use of digital technology in the propagation of neo-Nazi intolerance and related forms of intolerance. It points to recent trends and statements that exalt Nazism and other practices that contribute to the promotion of contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance.
How can discrimination be prevented?
First, the right to non-discrimination must be supported by legal safeguards that help to prevent this type of situation. In addition, information, training and awareness actions in interculturality and tolerance ethics must be reinforced . This goes for both citizens and government employees.
On the other hand, it is important that there be public policies that ensure non-discrimination. Spain has launched different actions in this regard: the creation of a Spanish Observatory on Racism and Xenophobia (OBERAXE) in the Ministry of Labour, Migration and Social Security, the creation of the figure of delegated prosecutors for hate crimes and discrimination within the General Council of the Judiciary, the implementation of a system to gather incidents related to hate crimes and discrimination in the Ministry of the Interior and the Assistance Service for Victims of Racial and Ethnic Discrimination of the Ministry of the Presidency, Parliament Relations and Equality .
Is FIIAPP working on this issue? How?
The FIIAPP works directly in the fight against racial discrimination through a delegated cooperation project in the Kingdom of Morocco called “Living together without discrimination: an approach based on human rights and the gender dimension” funded by the Emergency Trust Fund for Stability in Africa of the European Union. The FIIAPP and the AECID participate in its management . It also collaborates with Spanish and Moroccan institutions such as OBERAXE, the Delegate Ministry in charge of Moroccans Resident Abroad and Migration Issues and the National Human Rights Council of Morocco.
What is the purpose of this project?
The main objective of the project is to reinforce instruments and public policies aimed at preventing and combating racism and xenophobia towards the migrant population in the Kingdom of Morocco. It seeks to strengthen the capacities of key institutional and non-state actors (civil society, media, private sector …) in the implementation of initiatives to prevent racism and xenophobia towards the migrant population, through accompaniment, exchange and transfer of knowledge.
Any reflection on the subject to make us all think?
One of the reflections that emerged repeatedly during the workshop organised by the EUROsociAL + programme on human mobility on 19 March was that everything looks different when we put ourselves in the shoes of the other person .
I like the idea raised by the NGO Movement against Intolerance that there is only one race: the human race. If people began to see each other as sisters and brothers, I am sure that it would not be long before we no longer had reason to mark this day.