On Thursday, the director of the Extremaduran Women’s Institute (Instituto de la Mujer de Extremadura –IMEX-), Elisa Barrientos, held that gender perspective is “absolutely necessary in all public policies” in order to combat violence and discrimination against women and foster equality.
Barrientos made these statements in the opening of the session “A Gender Perspective to Guarantee Equality”, an event where the need to integrate gender perspective at all levels of society in order to avoid violence and the discrimination faced by women, as well as to foster equal rights and opportunities, has been dealt with.
This event has taken place at the Casa de la Mujer de Cáceres and was organised by the European and Ibero-American Academy of Yuste Foundation and the Extremaduran Agency for International Development Cooperation (AEXCID) in collaboration with the Extremaduran Women’s Institute (Instituto de la Mujer de Extremadura –IMEX-), where the director of the European and Ibero-American Academy of Yuste Foundation, Juan Carlos Moreno, also participated.
Barrientos pointed out that “the greatest inequality possible nowadays in a society that seeks to be called democratic, is that given between men and women simply due to gender.” In this sense, she stated that democracy cannot be understood without women, “because a developed and democratic society will clearly not make any progress if it is left without more than fifty percent of its sources and talents”.
The director of the IMEX stressed that formal progress has been made, also as far as citizenship is concerned, in relation to much needed laws, but “we should take advantage of these laws in order to achieve equal and effective equality”. Public and private areas should be shared with co-responsibility “not only between men and women, but also because, as public authorities, we are co-responsible for this equality and conciliation to be present in all society”, claimed Barrientos.
The head of the Extremaduran Women’s Institute has insisted on the importance of tackling the implementation of a gender approach from the basis of international cooperation, because “we don’t only have to act now, in Spain or Extremadura. We also have to act in the countries of origin of many women who come to our country because it is a way to avoid many forms of violence against women, such as female genital mutilation, forced marriages or the trafficking in women and girls, with sexual exploitation purposes”.
The director of the European and Ibero-American Academy of Yuste Foundation, Juan Carlos Moreno, has pointed out that this session responds to a foundational end included in its Statutes, namely social commitment.
Moreno added that this foundation is “an instrument that the people of Extremadura place in our hands in order to cooperate from the basis of education and culture to bring Europe and Ibero-America closer together and that should be close to the citizens’ problems, so that it may remain a vehicle for reflection, analysis, debate, the confrontation of opinions, and the pursuit for solutions”.
This social commitment is expressed in the organisation of this session, which addresses the issue of gender equality and gender-based violence, “one of the scourges of society where we are all bound to work and cooperate together in order to overcome it”, asserted Juan Carlos Moreno.
The director of the foundation stressed the right to life and to physical and moral integrity, concerning this issue. “It wasn’t until the year 2004 that there was a specific law in Spain to deal with this matter. We have had our eyes closed for many years”. Another aspect to bear in mind is the right to education. The director claimed that “we have to create a reserve and train our boys and girls”. He pointed out that 66,92% of all illiterates in Spain are women, and public authorities cannot forget such evidence.
Lastly, he has mentioned the right to work; to equality at work, to point out two facts: that women earn 23,5% less than men in equal positions and that the International Labour Organisation considers that 70 years will be necessary to bring salaries between men and women to equal levels. This is the reason why “political powers should keep an active policy”, claimed Moreno.
With this activity, the European and Ibero-American Academy of Yuste Foundation joins the events regarding the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
Third sector organisations and public bodies of Extremadura participating in the event, will analyse examples of good practices that are carried out at a European level, as well as in the field of cooperation. The main aim is to shed light on gender inequality and to find solutions, in order to raise awareness of social joint responsibility to put an end to this problem that is affecting all countries.
The speakers included Astrid Agenjo, professor at the Pablo de Olavide University in Seville and member of the Latin American Council of Social Sciences’ (CLACSO) International Task Force on Feminist Economy; Julia Espinosa, researcher at the Gender, Economy, Politics & Development Observatory (GEP&DO) and an expert on gender, the evaluation of public policies, and cooperation; Mª Ángeles Fernández, coordinator of the Píkara Magazine; Carmen Casco Casas, coordinator of the Mujeres Extremadura Foundation, and Erick Pescador, specialist on gender, masculinities, and the prevention of male violence against women, who is also the director of the Gender and Masculinity Study Centre (Centro de Estudios de Género y Masculinidades).
In answer to the journalists’ questions, Elisa Barrientos highlighted the work carried out by Erick Pescador, “a feminist man”; the driving force of the “new masculinities”. Men are responsible for violence against women and they should be given tools and be taught “how to learn to unlearn all that we’ve been taught and learn and act on the basis of solidarity and equality”. She added that men and women “should fight together for equality in a much more just and caring society”.
This activity is part of the project “Europe in the Face of Global Challenges Concerning Development Cooperation” (“Europa ante los desafíos globales de la cooperación al desarrollo”) and it is financed by the AEXCID. Its aim is to study the role played by the European Union in depth, in Extremadura, as a region that faces great internal challenges within a global framework of crisis and transformation and which is committed to Sustainable Development as a global challenge, where cooperation among public, private, and civil society actors, as well as among regions and countries, is key for the achievement of shared goals.