Gender equality in a changing Europe – call for applications to Coppieters Academy 2018 is now open!

The Coppieters Academy is a three-day summer school at the heart of Europe’s political capital. Participants gain an in-depth knowledge on political and social transformations unfolding in Europe through a series of lectures, interactive workshops and study visits.

This year the academy will focus on the theme of ‘Gender Equality in a Changing Europe‘ and it will take place from 10-12 of July 2018.

To apply as a participant, please fill out the form here.

Registrations close on the 15th of April 2018.

For all details on the program, accommodation, fees and reimbursements, please visit our event page.

Coppieters Academy 2018 from Coppieters Foundation on Vimeo.

Gender equality – a distant dream?

Europe is still struggling to achieve gender balance in public decision-making, including at all European levels. The lack of women’s representation in politics is intimately tied to other inequalities. Violence against women, or gender-based violence, including rape, domestic violence, stalking, sexual and online harassment, disproportionately affects women and LGBTQI persons, but is systematically under-reported to authorities, because of stigma associated with it. Gender-based violence reinforces gender norms and power structures that remain firmly rooted in our societies. Additionally, in many parts of Europe, women still face many barriers to full reproductive rights, including the right to safe, affordable and accessible abortion. Furthermore, millions of women and girls around the world, including in Europe, are living with the consequences of female genital mutilation. Another challenge is a phenomenon called period poverty. Sanitary products still remain unaffordable to poor and homeless women, even in the most economically developed parts of Europe, and it is exacerbated by the tampon tax.

Women’s poverty: from austerity to precarity 

The dominance of neoliberalism, and with it privatization, deregulation and corporate interests, has come at the expense of social justice, transparency, local development, collective organizing and solidarity. The economic crisis, and subsequent austerity measures, has had a disproportionately negative impact on women due to their vulnerable position in the labour market, lower average incomes than men, greater reliance on social protection and basic services that are underfunded, and primary responsibility for care work in the household.

In some parts of Europe, the wage and pension gap have widened, and women’s unemployment rate is higher than that of men. The post-2008 period also saw a deterioration of working conditions for women. Many women have been pushed into precarious or exploitative and poorly-protected work. Furthermore, the recession has directly caused the increase in domestic violence at a time when domestic shelters are closing due to cuts in public spending.

What is holding back progress?

While governments cut spending in healthcare, pensions, education and social services, they continued to militarise, both at home and abroad. The ‘war on terror’, which interlocked militarism, patriarchy and racist discourse, has ravaged and eroded entire communities and entrenched inequalities. Migration and displacement, generated by conflict, human rights abuses, poverty and climate change, has left women and girls at risk of all forms of gender-based violence, from rape, early marriage, and exploitation by smugglers. LGBTQI refugees, because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics, also face an increased risk of discrimination and violence.

Several recent political developments, like Brexit and the rise of far right movements, have further threatened the idea of a Europe based on equality, solidarity and social justice. Their patriarchal and nativist agendas have jeopardized the rights of women, minorities, people of colour and migrants, and altered the landscape for organisations promoting cultural diversity, women’s rights and LGBTQI rights, as well as civil society more generally. This mix of developments has been disastrous for human rights, gender equality, and social justice, but it has also diverted attention from the urgent need to address climate change, which is also undoubtedly gendered.

A feminist horizon

Despite rollbacks and threats, the tireless work of the women’s movement around the world has brought some positive change. At the grassroots level all across Europe, women are showing their resilience and mitigating regressive policies through solidarity, skills-sharing, and action. At the academy, participants will be hearing from some of these groups. Large-scale feminist campaigns have mobilized to call out discrimination and combat misogyny, from the Black Protests demanding reproductive justice in Poland to the #MeToo campaign shedding light on the pervasiveness of violence against women. But inspiration can also be found abroad. For example, Ni Una Menos campaign against misogyny has successfully spread throughout Latin America, while the Kurdish Women’s Movement is creatively rethinking power, sovereignty, ecology and inclusion.

Although groups combating discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation are still underfunded, the 2017 Women’s March, organized immediately after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, mobilized around 5 million people around the world for women’s rights, reproductive rights, LGBTQI rights, refugee rights, and cultural and religious diversity. But with success also comes the backlash.

The tasks for feminists going forward are: to disrupt patriarchy in all its forms, to redefine power, to promote feminist leadership, to redefine peace from a feminist perspective, to center cultural diversity, and to create new and non-hierarchical ways of living and working together based on solidarity.

How can we build #AnotherEurope together? Apply for the Coppieters Academy 2018!