Challenge to Change: Gender Perspectives in Europe

The concept of gender equality is highly affected by the culture and the politics of the country where it is discussed. Consequently, the work on policies, norms and juridical systems in favor of gender equality differ greatly around the world. Thus, what do not differ around the world is the structural violence against women. This is a problem present in all societies regardless of development, culture, religion, policies and history. To gather different youth workers and leaders from all over the world to discuss these issues are therefore of highest importance, not only because the youth can bring a change, but because it is an international problem and should therefore be understood internationally.


From June 27 to 5th of July together with JUB International from Netherlands we hosted the international training ”Gender Perspectives in Europe:13517493_1213558571996820_2261714809289119394_o Challenge to Change” bringing together youth workers, youth leaders, experts, NGO workers, Civil Society Organization representatives working for the promotion of Gender Equality and women’s empowerment in the Eastern Partnership Countries and the European Union.
The project has involved 36 participants coming from such countries as the United Kingdom, Croatia, Ukraine, Belarus, Czech Republic, Georgia, Italy, Latvia, Moldova, Netherlands, Poland, Russian Federation, Spain and Armenia.
Since all participants came from different countries, backgrounds and gender experiences the discussions and exchanges were rich.

Nuard Minasian (Armenia)

I was actively involved in gender related issues before and after the training, but I should confess that the format of the training enriched my skills on how the gender topics should be represented for a mixed audience. The stimulation games and exercises were very useful for me and I’m going to practice it in my work as a trainer.
The main issue is the gender stereotypes which causes gender inequality in our society. Another big issue is the gender based violence which is common for developing countries not having legislative mechanisms to prevent the cases.
There were represented some mechanisms on how to combat against these stereotypes which can differ from country to country, but which still characteristic for every society in a specific way. The stronger the society is the higher will be its level of gender equality. That’s why we drafted some joint projects during the training aiming to engage more people in awareness rising process on gender equality and non-violence.13603353_1216795288339815_1050718266209977591_o
I will address the teenage pupils who are the most target group for being educated on gender issues. This will give the opportunity to prevent gender inequality and domestic violence by educating the generation rather than working on the sad consequences of the absence of gender education.
The training was held in a very friendly atmosphere keeping everyone energized and motivated to take part in each activity. We really enjoyed the training, made useful networks for the further cooperation and went back home with positive and unforgettable memories.

Alexei Croitor (Moldova)

The project has been focused on gender issues, mostly challenges and causes which lead to inequality between men and women. For me this training wasn’t the 1 st course in gender equality issues, as a lawyer I’ve participated in a lot of educational programs which has been based on equality and non-discrimination issues from the legal point of view. This course has specific that approach this theme not from legal but social and cultural aspect regarding countries involved in project. It shows how young people understand this issue and their individual or group attitude to this, the importance of topic in social life, how it can influence society. Due to the Course I much more understand how stereotypes are influence our life and can be powerful instruments which stop development and progress. Only by like these educational program especially for young generation we can eliminate stereotypes from society and clean it up.

13517587_1214565185229492_3695389827692976380_oRepublic of Moldova has problems to solve with intolerance in society, inequality of women in all fields staring of decision making to enterprising. More problematical is non-realizing by the society of that problem which leads to discrimination, domestic violence. Despite of strong legal framework, in practical application of this Moldova is still fail. The situation with non-implementation of existing laws like in Moldova, or improvement of legislation with necessary framework, for states which aspiring for it must take in consideration that it needs not only legal and political approach. It necessary change and open minds of society especially with young generation. That is why the same Projects are strictly necessary, for showing positive examples, giving possibility to participants to come to the idea of equality by themselves, working together on the problem, generating new ideas.


Boba Markovich Baluchova (Czech Republic)

Very heterogeneous, but open-minded group of the participants (of different age, from different countries and with different educational background) learnt and talked about gender related topics and the need for gender equality in all areas of our lives. It was not only about equal job opportunities and equally paid salaries for women and men; this training was also about the understanding of the concepts of women’s rights protection, e.g. reproductive rights (which is very sensitive topic in Armenia – what we found out during the training). We also asked ourselves whether do we have an equivalent for “gender mainstreaming” term in our own languages.

I’ve been working as youth worker, journalist and lecturer at Palacky university, so gender related topics are not new to me. In past I conducted the research about the media (re)presentation of vulnerable groups (including women) from developed, as well as developing countries. During the training I was interested in the advocacy campaigns and gender related issues in countries from Eastern Partnership and Caucasus region. Therefore I appreciated the Study tours to local Armenian NGOs: Women’s Resource Center of Armenia, Public Information and Need of Knowledge (PINK). For example I learnt that ‪Diana Abkar (an Armenian writer and diplomat) was the 1st female ambassador in the World (in 1920!).

13580397_1215348718484472_88981260433290312_oI come from Slovakia, but I work in Czechia (these two countries used to be one big country: Czechoslovakia in past). I contributed to the international conference (as a part of this TC) with the presentation: “Portrayal of women in Czech and Slovak media (journalism and marketing products)”. I talked about a significant difference in portrayal of women and men. Sexual harassment and sexism are big issues in my region. I showed the examples of annual competition “Sexist pig” focused on the most sexist adverts in Czechia. As I understood (based on the discussion after the conference) there are very similar experiences and examples of gender insensitive language’s usage from other European countries.

I think the training courses and youth exchanges (using non-formal learning methods) can be always an opportunity to face our own stereotypes and work on their reduction. In my case study/research of portrayal of women in media: educational seminars for journalism students about gender related issues and topics would be helpful.

Even though the group participants had different age, educational background, cultural and religious values, together we created very safe space for the opinions sharing and open discussions about feminism, women’s reproductive rights or LGBTQI+ topic. I believe that was the most important outcome of the TC.

Florian Kleinhoven (The Netherlands)

I think what mostly changed for me is my view on different cultures. Not only was travelling to Armenia a great experience, such a project with so

many members partaking from numerous cultural backgrounds was also helpful. I learned to see how many European cultures regard the problem of gender inequality and anything related to it from a similar perspective, whereas Georgians or Armenians consider the situation radically different. I think the project mainly taught me to mitigate my opinions as to gender discrimination. As Freud indicated: human behaviors always have a source in society — I consider this very much to be the truth.  I think in Western Europe, the problem of gender inequality is less tangible than anywhere else in the world. In a practical sense, there are the same opportunities for both counterparts. However, on a more microscopical scale, the differences are evident. Many people here are obsessed with equating statistical values: women have to make up 50% of all Physics students, and so forth. The course in Yerevan taught me that these goals are surreal and surpass the goal: the goal is to alter the public mentality, not statistics. Logically, the issue also consists of verbal discrimination, but to be honest, that falls into an entirely different category than ‘gender issues’ itself. The role of discrimination based on differences is a lot greater!13533126_1215305758488768_1580205598643307528_n

A resolution should be a legislative element implemented in society to meliorate a problematic situation. I think the solution many companies have adopted is the best, survey both what men and women want, and tailor your regulations to that — it’s all about democracy after all. I think an understanding of how to appease two or more parties in negotiations would be one of the most useful skills, as this also helps to rule out the problem of discrimination itself (on a small scale).  I think the problem with public education in the field of gender issues in Western Europe is that it is focused mostly on the consequences for women. I, and many others, think the problem persists for both genders. Men can feel discriminated on the basis of their gender as well. The issue should be approached as something mutual/communal; not something merely problematic for women.

Gita Getaute Sveicare (Latvia)

For me the project was about kindness, tolerance, inner values and emotions. Before training I was confident about this topic. I was sure that I know all the indicators and signs that indicates belonging to specific groups or orientation (sexual or gender). In my region are a lot of situations about aggression and misunderstandings in case of difference (either way of thinking or sexual orientation and non-tolerant attitude). It was wonderful experience and opportunity to meet colleagues from different countries and sharing so big working range and categories. Thank you. Hope to have similar opportunity in future.

Roman Hajduk (United Kingdom)

A few months before I was attending another training course, where I needed to find and understand myself and that one became a good foundation for the training in Armenia. In Armenia  I received more experience, created new contacts and my network is bigger now.  I will be also back soon with my photography project.


Santa Barbara – The Last Episode of the Famous TV Series in Yerevan

After several years of project experience and work with so-called difficult youngsters, adolescents with challenging behavior Armenian Progressive Youth NGO (Armenia) and Föreningen Framtidståget(Sweden) have recognized that often we speak about important world issues and try to influence global problems, but do not notice, that our relationship with the world very much depends on the relationship with our nearest people.
Santa Barbara is a Training Course aiming to show the importance of personal and family relationship in young people’s future by self-reflection
and making correlations between personal life and social and political engagement.

14409441_1277537758932234_4769751434154556979_oAmong others, the training contained study visits to NGOs in Armenia working on women’s rights. The visits made a great opportunity for the international participants to learn more about gender based violence in Armenia, and to share the situations in their countries with the group. Another session was focused on non-violence communication, which were both practical and theoretical exercises. Naturally, the schedule also allowed to dive into Armenian culture such as visiting the Pagan temple in Garni, which was followed with a traditional dinner in an Armenian family.

One of the participants, Laura Reisele from Latvia, said that for her the training course was about self-development and self-awareness, getting deeper into one’s personal issues, unsolved problems and conflicts which we can see and observe mostly in the family. During this week in Armenia we tried not just to explore others, their cultures, but also ourselves. ”I enjoyed our gender related discussions in order to tackle the topic,  life stories and the friendly atmosphere all around. It was a sincere place – cocoon – where from tears and happiness new butterflies learned to fly.”

Another participant, Iryna Azaranka from Sweden, said that  her main impression was that the course was very good balanced from the beginning to the end. It was just right amount of knowledge and sightseeing. “Also”, she continues, “I liked the involvement with the locals, img_6471when we had to really start discussions to answer the city game questions. Some of the methods used were very interesting. For an example on patterns of communications, it has already been useful in my personal life”!
She described that the group contained different levels of gender awareness, which from time to time was difficult to relate to. Furthermore, she highlighted that the sightseeing to the Armenian countryside and mountains were a magnificent experience. “For me it was a calming time and also time of insights”, she adds.

Mihai Lovu from Moldova says that the training course tought him about the differences between Moldova and Armenia in stereotypes and gender issues. He also adds that he will definitely remember the people from the training. Pedro Soares from Portugal also emphasizes that he will remember the participants and that the group was a very good experience.




Երևանում տեղի ունեցավ «Գենդերային հեռանկարները Եվրոպայում» միջազգային դասընթացը

Հունիսի 27-ից հուլիսի 5-ը Երևանում անցկացվեց «Գենդերային հեռանկարները Եվրոպայում» միջազգային դասընթացը, որն իր շուրջն էր համախմբել թվով 36 երիտասարդական աշխատողների, գենդերային հետազոտություններով զբաղվող երիտասարդ փորձագետների, քաղաքացիական հասարակության տարբեր ոլորտների ներկայացուցիչների, կանանց իրավունքներով և գենդերային հավասարության հիմնահարցերով զբաղվող ՀԿ ներկայացուցիչների,  ակտիվիստների և ֆեմինիստների շուրջ 14 Արևելյան գործընկերության ու Եվրոպական միության երկրներից: Դասընթացը կազմակերպվել էր «Հայ առաջադեմ երիտասարդություն» հասարակական կազմակերպության և նիդեռլանդական «Երիտասարդները հանուն միջմշակութային փոխանկաման և փոխընբռնման» կազմակերպության համատեղ ջանքերով: Ծրագրի գլխավոր նպատակներից մեկն էր հնարավորություն ստեղծել Հայաստանում և Եվրամիության երկրներում կանանց իրավունքների պաշտպանության և գենդերային հավասարության ոլորտում աշխատող կազմակերպությունների միջև փորձի փոխանակման համար, քննարկումների միջոցով վեր հանել Եվրոպական միության և Արևելյան գործընկերության երկրներում առկա գենդերային հիմնախնդիրները, վերլուծել երկրի քաղաքական, սոցիալ-տնտեսական կյանքին կանանց հավասար մասնակցությանը խոչընդոտող գերակա խնդիրները` փորձելով հնարավոր լուծումներ առաջարկել հաշվի առնելով տեղական և միջազգային փորձը:

Ծրագրի շրջանակներում նաև կայացավ «Գենդերային հավասարությունը Հայաստանում և Եվրոպայում. մարտահրավերներ և հեռանկարներ» խորագիրը կրող կոնֆերանսը, որին մասնակցում էին Հայաստանում և Եվրոպական միության տարբեր երկրներում գործող հասարակական կազմակերպութունների ներկայացուցիչներ, երիտասարդ փորձագետներ, գիտական աշխատողներ, ակտիվիստներ, ֆեմինիստներ և քաղաքացիական հասարակության ներկայացուցիչներ: Բացման խոսքով հանդես եկավ  Հայաստանում Եվրոպական միության պատվիրակության ղեկավար, դեսպան Պյոտր Սվիտալսկին: Դեսպանը մասնակիցների հետ կիսվել է 2016-2020թթ. ԵՄ գենդերային գործողությունների ռազմավարությամբ, որն իրականացվում է ԵՄ հաստատությունների ու ԵՄ անդամ պետությունների կողմից և փոխկապակցված է Եվրոպական հարևանության քաղաքականության վերանայման և ՄԱԿ-ի Անվտանգության խորհրդի 1325 կանանց, խաղաղության ու անվտանգության մասին բանաձևին: Եվրոպական միությունը խրախուսում է  ՀՀ կառավարության կողմից Ստամբուլի կոնվենցիայի վավերացումը, որը կանանց նկատմամբ բռնության և ընտանեկան բռնության, ինչպես նաև կանանց և տղամարդկանց միջև հավասար իրավունքների վերաբերյալ միջազգային պայմանագիր է:

Կոնֆերանսին  մասնակից բանախոսներ Օքսֆամ Հայաստանից, ՕքսԵՋեն  հիմնադրամից, ԵՊՀ Գենդերային հետազոտությունների կենտրոնից, Հանրային տեղեկատվության ու գիտելիքի կարիք հասարակական կազմակերպությունից, Կանանց ռեսուրսային կենտրոնից, Հասարակություն առանց բռնության հասարակական կազմակերպությունից  և Մերձավոր Արևելքում ամերիկյան օգնության կոմիտեից:

“CHALLENGE 2 CHANGE: GENDER PERSPECTIVES IN EUROPE” International project launches in Yerevan

June 26, 2016 – Yerevan, Armenia – From 27th of June to 5th of July Armenian Progressive Youth NGO and JUB International from Netherlands will be hosting an international training course in Yerevan bringing together 36 youth workers, youth experts, activists, community leaders, Civil Society Organization and NGO representatives from 14 European countries. During 8 days they will be discussing and tackling the key challenges and perspectives related to gender equality, women’s rights protection and advocacy in the European Union, Eastern Partnership and Caucasus region. The Training Course will unite participants from Armenia, Belarus, Croatia, Czech Republic, Georgia, Italy, Latvia, Moldova, Poland, Spain, Russian Federation, the Netherlands, United Kingdom and Ukraine.

The main aim of the project is to compare the realities related to gender equality and equal participation of women in political, social and economic aspects in the European Union and Eastern Partnership countries, share and exchange the best practices of civil society organizations in the field, promote the importance of gender equality in youth work and develop strategies for women empowerment and promotion of gender equality in Armenia and different European countries. During their stay in Armenia, the participants will exchange their skills and experiences on gender mainstreaming, gender discrimination, gender-based violence and gender-related perspectives in different parts of Europe. The project will be unique platform for sharing practices and exchanging experiences.

On July the 1st an International Conference “Gender Equality in Armenia and Europe: Challenges and Perspectives” will be held in the scope of the project aiming at bringing together NGOs, Civil Society Organizations, activists, community representatives, experts, academics who work for the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment in Armenia as well as the Eastern Partnership Countries and the European Union.

A keynote opening speech will be delivered by H.E. Mr. Piotr Antoni Świtalski, Ambassador, Head of Delegation of the European Union to Armenia The Keynote speech will be followed by guest-speakers from YSU Center for Gender and Leadership Studies, Women’s Resource Center NGO, OxYGen Foundation, Public Information and Need of Knowledge NGO, JUB International NGO, Oxfam Armenia, Society without Violence NGO and the Near East Foundation.

The main aim of the Conference is discussing the current challenges and perspectives related to Gender Equality in Armenia and other European countries and providing the participants a platform for networking and developing partnerships, good quality projects locally and internationally.