08 March 2022
Posteado en : Opinion
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.
Democratic Governance Coordinator at FIIAPP
Director of Public Administration and Social Affairs at the FIIAPP
25 March 2021
Posteado en : Interview
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.
25 June 2020
Posteado en : Opinion
Icíar Bosch, Jimena Cazzaniga and Ana Cirujano, FIIAPP colleagues who are also part of the Foundation's gender group, tell us how they see gender equality as being in danger at the global level due to the Covid-19 crisis.
It is a reality that the crisis generated by Covid-19 jeopardises the progress of the 2030 Agenda, especially the aspects linked to gender equality. In this complex situation, FIIAPP, through its know-how, is committed to not leaving women behind. As the figures demonstrate, women are more exposed to the virus and its social and economic impacts: approximately 70% of health staff in the world are women, as well as 80% of domestic and care personnel. On the other hand, caring for dependent relatives falls to a greater extent on women. As if this were not enough, it is women who represent the highest percentage of informal and part-time workers worldwide.
FIIAPP can provide solutions in the form of public policy that take the gender perspective into account
At FIIAPP, we have seen that strengthening public policies with a gender equality focus can aim to improve citizens’ lives. For example, during this crisis there is less access to sexual and reproductive health and a serious increase in gender-based violence. FIIAPP works in this field from different perspectives, such as supporting the creation of a Department of Gender Violence within AMERIPOL.
On the other hand, the EUROsociAL+ Programme’s Democratic Governance Area has implemented innovative actions such as incorporating the gender perspective in systems to promote transparency and access to information, the differential impact of corruption on women, access to justice for especially vulnerable groups of women or assisting Latin American countries in implementing budgets with a gender perspective as an instrument to reduce inequalities.
We consider that the need for women’s empowerment in times of crisis such as the current one is a central element when considering development strategies. Sometimes, the specific effects of a particular form of violence against them are added to this situation. Another example is occurring in the Sahel region, where women are seeing their rights being systematically limited. In the GAR-SI SAHEL project, FIIAPP has included a gender approach, not only to specifically protect women in conflict situations, but also as a commitment to the empowerment of women in the security forces and to increase the presence of women in these units.
It also happens that the general discourse that frames the coronavirus crisis is profoundly masculine and riddled with warlike similes, in contrast, communication with equity should be present and extend to the use of an inclusive language that enables the visibility of women and girls. At FIIAPP, both in its communication department and in various programmes, there is a firm commitment regarding the use of non-discriminatory language. For example, the EU-Cuba Experience Exchange project to promote renewable energy sources and energy efficiency in Cuba, takes care to use inclusive language every time it communicates through an invitation, presentation, etc.
This is why, at a time when the inclusion of the gender perspective is perceived as a secondary aspect, projects such as Living Together Without Discrimination are recognised as being valuable. The latter is an approach based on human rights and gender in which FIIAPP contributes technical assistance specialising in gender. After a thorough diagnosis, a series of tools were developed that allow all the people and institutions involved to integrate the gender perspective throughout the intervention. This enabled the existence of specific guidelines that ensure the incorporation of the gender perspective in each of the project’s tasks, processes, activities and results. As a result of all this work, the project has managed to ensure that gender-balanced candidate lists are positively considered in FIIAPP recruitment processes.
But despite the enormous amount of information produced on the Covid-19 crisis, there are very few analyses that contain data on the situation of women, who are once again invisible. The gender impact of the various crises, including the climate crisis, is an undeniable fact. In the framework of programmes managed by FIIAPP such as EUROCLIMA+, initiatives that take into account the gender perspective are promoted, specifically through the collection and use of information disaggregated by sex, the establishment of gender-sensitive indicators, the creation of methods to facilitate the participation and consultation of women, as well as monitoring, evaluation and accountability from a gender perspective.
As we mentioned before, women occupy a high percentage of precarious and informal jobs, many of them linked to unrecognised care tasks. The solution to the current crisis lies in repositioning these jobs and economically empowering women. For example, the Bridging the Gap (BtG) programme, being aware of such discrimination on multiple levels, is working to improve the employability of disabled women or those who have disabled children. Empowerment, as in other FIIAPP actions, is at the centre of BtG’s action to achieve women’s autonomy.
These initiatives, selected from a series of proposals compiled by the FIIAPP Knowledge Management team, demonstrate that the raw material is there. However, it is necessary, on the one hand, to systematise and make this work visible, and on the other, to put this experience at the service of a gender strategy. In this sense, FIIAPP is working, with the support of a group of professionals from within the organisation, on preparing and implementing its 1st Equality Plan. This tool has a double internal and external objective: to promote gender equality within the institution, as well as to equip the institution itself with the tools and processes that allow it to be systematically incorporated into the projects managed by the institution.
With the arrival of the pandemic and the implementation of different emergency measures to face it, the global challenge is clear: the widening of the gender gap is a reality. It is our responsibility to work to minimise it, the solution is to be found in gender equality.
Icíar Bosch, Jimena Cazzaniga and Ana Cirujano
Project technicians in the FIIAPP gender team
28 March 2019
Posteado en : Reportage
International Women’s Day has become one of the most strongly supported international days of the year. At FIIAPP, we are aware of the importance of gender inclusion in our projects and we are committed to an equality plan within the Foundation
Currently, around 7.55 billion people inhabit the planet. According to United Nations data, 49.5% of these are women, which translates into 3.71 billion.
There are many obstacles that women face by simply being women. The OECD report “The Pursuit of Gender Equality: An Uphill Battle”, shows that women are still at a disadvantage in all areas of life and in all countries with respect to men.
The Global Wage Report 2016/2017 prepared by the International Labour Organization (ILO) highlights that the wage gap increases as wages increase. According to data in a Eurostat report, in Spain in 2016, the gender wage gap was 14.9% compared to a European average 16.7%.
Likewise, of all the people living in extreme poverty, 75% are women and girls. Of the total number of children who do not attend school, 60% are girls and, although women account for half of the food produced, they only own 1% of cultivated land.
8 March, International Women’s Day
International Working Women’s Day was institutionalised by the United Nations on 8 March 1975 under the name International Women’s Day. However, the day was celebrated for the first time on 19 March 1911 in Europe, specifically in Germany, Austria, Denmark and Switzerland, and since then its commemoration has expanded to other countries.
Year after year, 8 March has become one of the international days with the greatest impact on society, as it has become a day marked by a global call-to-arms in which women join forces to demand gender equality and a fair society. An ever increasing number of men are joining in and becoming aware of the problem of inequality that women face.
“Gender equality is, fundamentally, a matter of power. We live in a world dominated by men, with a culture that is dominated by men. “Only when we understand the rights of women as a common goal, as a path to change for the benefit of all, will we begin to tip the balance“, the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres highlighted in his message for World Women’s Day in 2019.
“Think equal, build smart, innovate for change”
In 2019, the slogan for International Women’s Day has been “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change”. This slogan places innovation by women at the centre of their efforts to achieve gender equality, since this requires social innovations that are valid for both men and women “leaving nobody behind“.
In a similar way to 8 March, women are also joining forces to raise their voices to advocate for gender equality through the #Metoo movement, which has become a protest movement that is active 365 days of the year. Through it, women around the world have had the opportunity to write about their experiences on social networks, reporting cases of sexual abuse and receiving support.
SDG 5: Gender equality
According to the United Nations, “gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but the foundation needed to achieve a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world“. In order to fulfil the objectives of the 2030 Agenda, gender equality has been included as the fifth of the Sustainable Development Goals . The wide-ranging aims of this goal include seeking to put an end to all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere, eliminating all forms of violence against them, the adoption and strengthening of sound policies and the applicable of legislation to promote gender equality.
Likewise, people with disabilities also suffer from gender inequality, especially when it comes to access to education. According to Ola Abu Ghraib, Director of Research and Global Influence at the Leonard Cheshire Organisation, “mechanisms must be improved to integrate girls with disabilities into the education system, and to integrate gender into the 2030 Agenda”.
FIIAPP and gender mainstreaming
On the occasion of International Women’s Day, on 7 March, FIIAPP held a round table that was attended by the Government Delegate for Gender Violence, Pilar Llop Cuenca, and the Director of the Spanish Observatory on Racism and Xenophobia (OBERAXE), Karoline Fernández, who highlighted the discrimination suffered by immigrant women in our society. The conclusion of this debate was the importance of “mobilising and raising awareness about gender violence through education“.
FIIAPP wants to position itself as the first Spanish foundation active in the field of public sector cooperation to apply gender inclusion both internally and externally. The Foundation is, therefore, developing an equality plan that aims to offer the same opportunities to men and women within the institution.
According to Manuel Sánchez, a project technician with FIIAPP, the Foundation “has two main challenges: one is to include a focus on gender within the foundation with a plan and a specific programme for this, and on the other hand the responsibility we have as male and female workers to incorporate this into our projects.