Press release of the Grundtvig workshop ‘Woman 2 Woman: A workshop for women development and empowerment’
The Lifelong Learning Programme of the European Commission sustains the work against gender-based violence and discrimination
During the last weeks of July, twenty passionate and motivated women from 13 European countries gathered in Palermo, Sicily for a ten day workshop called ”Woman 2 Woman: A workshop for women’s personal development and empowerment”. The event, delivered by the International Centre for Promotion of Education and Development (CEIPES) was funded by the Grundtvig programme, which is part of the Lifelong Learning programme developed by the European Commission. The key aims of the workshop were to explore topics of gender-based discrimination and violence, which remain to be dominant issues faced in the current society. The workshop also focused on the issues of women’s representation in the society and gender identity in general. Throughout the project, participants were encouraged to discuss about solutions to such issues and best ways of implementing them.
The workshop was run using solely non-formal learning methods. Participants gathered during both morning and afternoon sessions, to spend their days debating in groups and getting to know the situation of women in each other’s countries, finding solutions to common problems, designing advocacy campaigns, understanding the links between gender representations and discrimination, etc. Some of the methods used were role-play, simulation activities, cross-cultural discussion groups, audiovisuals and team-building activities. Such learning methods contributed to the relaxed and friendly atmosphere of the workshop, which offered a safe field for sharing personal stories as well as helping others to learn about difficult topics.
During the whole workshop, participants practiced advocacy and campaign building in relation to gender equality and women’s position in the society. Women-politicians or MPs, talented women who left a deep trace in culture, art or social movements served to the attendees as role models for critical analysis and deepened knowledge about women’s involvement in society in the past and modern years. In addition, the workshop explored the themes of sensuality and sexuality, acknowledging the diversity of choices and preferences and promoting a non-judgmental attitude. A rationalization on how sexualised images in media, fashion and advertisements affected one’s preferences and concepts of human beauty was part of the agenda. Critical questioning, confronting and scrutinizing the power of sexualised advertisement were key skills the participants developed over the course of the workshop.
The contributors also exposed their visions of femininity through performances and visuals, which provoked emotions and thought on interpersonal levels. Participating women also had the opportunity to explore local culture through everyday exposure to local cuisine, music, people, images and places.
As one of the learning outcomes, participants developed their skills in coaching and mentoring. Knowing how to be a good mentor can be a useful tool in generating empowerment among women of all ages, especially in the context of emotional as well as professional support. In addition, during other sessions, participants tried to find solutions to tackle violence against women, in all forms it may take (physical, sexual, and psychological). The entire workshop was very rich in sharing information about different countries, such as what kind of legislation exists internationally to address gender-based violence and violence against women, or what kind of support services are already available, among others.
All women who participated shared positive impressions of the Grundtvig workshop. It has been a useful tool in learning from the personal experiences of other women, as well discovering the differences among various European countries with regards to gender-related issues. The ‘Woman 2 Woman’ project, designed to further knowledge as well as to generate empowerment, had certainly been successful on many fronts.