Last month, the Gender Programme of the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed) teamed up with the Department of Foreign Action, Institutional Relations and Transparency of the Government of Catalonia (Spain) to organize a meeting with the main objective of exchanging information and reflecting on Catalonia’s contribution to gender equality in the Mediterranean region.
Under the name of "Gender equality in the Mediterranean: the role of Catalonia", the event took place last November 26 and also counted on the collaboration of the Catalan Agency for Development Cooperation (ACCD) and the Catalan Women’s Institute (ICD).
Representatives of different areas of the Catalan government -such as the Department of Health, the Catalan Youth Agency, the Department of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Food, or the Department of Justice- and other institutions and NGOs working in the field of cooperation gathered together to discuss feasible opportunities to promote actions related to women’s rights in other countries, specially, in the Southern Mediterranean.
This meeting is part of the commitment and big effort made by the Department of Foreign Action, Institutional Relations and Transparency to place gender as the central axis of the actions carried out overseas by the different government departments; and furthermore, the intention of positioning Catalonia as an important change agent for gender equality in the Mediterranean.
On this matter, Mireia Borrell, Director General for Foreign Relations, stated that they indeed "identified two big driving forces for change to transform the region: young people and women". That’s why treating gender as a transversal matter is indispensable since, in addition, trying to activate initiatives related to gender is still an unfinished business for the different government departments in Catalonia.
In this way, the round table helped to present the projects carried out by the participants to empower women in the region, look for cooperation and collaborations among the different government departments, and set common goals in matters of gender.
In this context, Josep Ferré, Acting Director General of the IEMed, introduced the commitments made during the Union for the Mediterranean Ministerial Conference on Strengthening the Role of Women in Society, celebrated in Cairo (Egypt) in November 2017, and talked about the initiatives conducted by the Euro-Mediterranean Women’s Foundation (FFEM), of which the IEMed is founding member and headquarters.
For her part, Emilie Vidal, coordinator of the Gender Programme of the IEMed and team member of the FFEM, introduced the Foundation and deepened its innovative methodology: promoting collaboration among local actors to examine women’s local situation and implement actions on the ground.
Among others, Carme Gual, Director of the Catalan Agency for Development Cooperation (ACCD), Núria Balada, President of the Catalan Women’s Institute (ICD), and Thaïs Nieto, from the Catalan Youth Agency, also took part in the discussion to present the actions carried out by their areas in favour of women’s empowerment.
Precisely, the Catalan Youth Agency is currently working in a project entitled "Empowering MEDA young women, a key sector for boosting social and solidarity economy", in which the IEMed is also an active collaborator.
This platform is part of the Axis 1 "Strengthening the capacities of equality actors" of the Priority Solidarity Fund "Women for the future in the Mediterranean" funded by the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs and led by the European Institute of the Mediterranean, in the framework of the project “Developing Women's Empowerment” labelled by the Union for the Mediterranean.