Linking experiences: a path for gender equality

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In recent history, women issues were not part of the public agendas, communication was far from the several and agile means we have got and it couldn’t interfere in real time. So, each woman was alone to face her own gender experience: most of the time, she would think she was the only one to handle the problems she was dealing with. She could look at the world around and feel it should be different, she had no one to speak about. She had to take it on her own. In this context, to discover that her neighbor, her friend, her cousin, the friend of her cousin, the friend of the cousin of her neighbor (and so many other women) had similar difficulties in a world shaped by men was one step ahead to women conscience development. Feminist movements were crucial to connect women and create conditions for them to share experiences – as a qualitative leap to women empowerment and to gender equality.

Linking experiences: a path for gender equality

Nowadays, as institutions concerned by gender equality and diversity we can easily benefit from each other. In a first moment, we look at ourselves as an institution and we recognize a few significant features (or efforts) as well as many things that are yet to be done, in order to reach effective policies on equal opportunities. In a second moment, we look around and we think: “Well, it’s not so bad, we are all in the same (old!) world…”. But what really matters is the opportunity not to waste too much time: let’s speak, let’s see what we are doing here and there, let’s learn from other’s experience, let’s tell what are we doing, let’s share our current efforts, our doubts, our successes and failures. This is how I feel in the context of SPEAR’s Project: as a member of NOVA University, at NOVA School of Social Sciences and Humanities, I’m happy to have the opportunity to share experiences and to develop knowledge and know-how together with people from other Higher Education Institutions.

We have already a significant history on these issues at NOVA School of Social Sciences and Humanities, both in research and teaching fields: we have for years a Master on Studies on Women and, since 2019, a collaborative PhD program on Gender Studies; the National Observatory of Violence and Gender (Observatório Nacional de Violência de Género, ONVG) in functioning since 2008, in the context of one of our research units (CICS. NOVA); CICS.NOVA also hosts Faces de Eva, a journal on women issues. Anyhow, we want to go further, we would like to touch the daily life of our academic community, we need to change stereotypes (or stereotyped practices). 

  • We are taking little but relevant steps towards this common goal. For instance:
  • We reorganized our ancient Psychology Office as Psychology, Inclusion and Equality Office;
  • We installed baby changing facilities in male and female WCs in the campus;
  • We invited the Portuguese governmental committee on citizenship and equality (Comissão para a Cidadania e Igualdade de Género) to the welcome day to new students, September 2019;
  • We are encouraging and supporting employee training on gender equality.
  • We endorsed the SAGE (Systemic Action for Gender Equality) Charter of Principles for Gender Equality (SAGE –), thus making a public commitment to the principles of gender equality and diversity and to find ways to implement them.
  • We have now a first draft of a Gender Equality and Diversity Plan, which is being discussed and improved with the contributions of different stakeholders (teachers, employee, students, researchers).

Gender equality and diversity are now part of our common and immediate agenda at NOVA School of Social Sciences and Humanities. Step by step, we can anticipate more equal and inclusive institutions and societies; but we don’t know yet what they will become exactly. Quantitative data are necessary to a real change. Let’s walk together, let’s work together.

Let’s SPEAR – Support and Implement Plans for Gender Equality in Academia and Research. Wherever we are, we are linking experiences – and this is a path for gender equality and diversity.

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