On the 16th of November 2022, the Mind the Gap project partners, the End FGM European Network, Aidos Italy (Rome), APF (Lisbon, Portugal), and Medicos Del Mundo (Madrid, Spain), hosted an international conference taking stock of the 2-year project coming to an end.
The hybrid event, titled: "Promoting Gender Equality in the classrooms and beyond", presented the work carried out through Mind the Gap and the project results and was a space to discuss ways to ensure gender equality is upheld and promoted through education.
The conference was hosted by End FGM EU Interim Director Emilie Jarrett and saw the participation of partners, experts and policymakers. After presentations by project coordinator Valentina Fanelli (AIDOS Italy) and Monitoring & Evaluation consultant Sam Cunningham, a keynote speech was given by DG JUST D2 Policy Officer Bianca Faragau. In her remarks, Mrs Faragau presented the Commission's effort towards defending Gender Equality in every area of society, including education, at the European level.
She said "the first and foremost goal is to ensure freedom from gender violence and gender stereotypes."
The inspiring speech was followed up by a panel discussion on "building a sustainable path toward gender equality through education", moderated by Isma Benboulerbah, coordinator of programmes at End FGM EU. The panel featured a diversity of experts: Amal Hussein, former End FGM EU Youth Ambassador; Fau Rosati, Psychologist, PhD and transfeminist activist; Petra Kurtovic, Policy Officer at EPF SRR; Pina Caporaso, Primary school teacher and trainer and Sonia Duarte Lopes, APF Lisbon Branch Coordinator.
The discussion included interventions on why it is essential to enlist teachers and educators as allies in the path to equality, the emergency to focus on gender equality education in the current anti-gender climate, and how to make education on these topics truly inclusive of everyone.
The panel was then followed by a presentation of the project's recommendations on Gender Equality Education by End FGM EU Policy and Advocacy Coordinator Xheni Dani and Medicos Del Mundo Spain Project Manager Adria Belenguer Sòria.
"Schools should institute continuous training for teachers and activities for students to promote gender equality and gender inclusive education, with an intersectional approach."
It is often believed that Europe is somehow all set regarding gender equality. Still, with threats, backlash and backward steps taking place in various countries of the EU, we know that organizing ourselves to build up and protect our advancements is more crucial than ever. Mind the Gap was a project aimed at planting the seeds of equality where they will grow the strongest: young people's minds. By engaging with those responsible for educating future generations, we believe that we can enact profound and long-lasting change for a more equal future.
The Mind the Gap project partners hope that the work done in the past two years and the conversations held during this conference will inspire more efforts to transform European education to shape a genuinely gender-equal EU.
The Mind the Gap project, co-funded by the European Union, intended to contribute to tackling gender stereotypes in education in Italy, Spain and Portugal by raising the awareness of school professionals and other non-formal educators, students, children and parents on how gender bias/roles impact the education, work and life choices of girls and boys.
The project aimed mainly at reducing the influence of gender roles on girls' and boys' choices in education, work and life by strengthening the capacity of professionals and other adults to identify and address gender stereotypes in education, including unconscious bias.
The project was implemented in Italy, Portugal and Spain, where practices in education still fuel gender inequality.
The project used some of the materials and approaches developed and tested within educational sessions with children in the "Gender ABC" framework. As a follow-up project to Gender ABC, the Mind the Gap project aimed to train current and future educators to use the educational material autonomously.
As part of the Mind The Gap project, the partners have produced a brochure designed to help tackle gender stereotypes in education. Download it here.