When I first learnt that I wouldn’t be able to physically attend the Women and Work European Training Foundation Conference organised by Silvia Cambie due to work constraints and held in Turin (Alas! I discovered that working required your actual presence more than two days a week), I was bitterly disappointed. But I wannaaaaaaa! Screamed my head in typical little brat fashion. Then a stroke of genius hit me (well, I had an idea anyway): I would participate to the group works by Skype.
You see, I didn’t want to completely miss it as the sessions promised to be quite interesting, informative and inspiring: 23 female bloggers from 18 countries both outside and in the European Union gathered together to think and reflect on the topic of women and work and more precisely on the transition from school to work, female entrepreneurs and poverty and education. The groups were then to prepare a video in order to present their recommendations to the European Union Representatives that were coming the following day.
So on Sunday March the 7th, just a day before International Woman’s Day, I happily switched on my computer to start racking my brain with the other participants. Linked to the buzz of the group thanks to Lina Ben Mhenni, a Tunisian female blogger and member, I could “see” the other participants, most of whom I had already been in contact with via the Women and Work Ning network created by Communications fairy Silvia Cambie.
So on I worked, connected to the group via Skype and Twitter, as certain participants live tweeted from their working hubs. It was interesting, exciting and all in all, a very daring initiative, as it was the first time for most of the women that were there to be invited as bloggers and not as their “regular” job. I’m now looking forward to see the video and the final recommendations my fellow women bloggers came up with.
Today, on International Woman’s Day (Every day should be International Woman’s Day, but this belongs to another conversation altogether), as the world is reflecting on the Status of Women in New York at CSW54 and reviewing the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action, it is certainly a positive sign that the European authorities are calling out to young female bloggers from non EU countries to make recommendations regarding a topic that directly relates to them. It is a recognition of the role of bloggers within civil society movements, and a recognition of what female civil society can bring to society as a whole.
As a reminder, let us pause and take in some facts randomly chosen about the situation of women in the world:
– Given the ever changing face of war, studies have shown that rape is now used as a weapon of war, as well as forced impregnation in times of civil conflicts. This was the case in DRC, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Bosnia and Herzegovina and so many more…
– Worldwide, 40-70% of all female murder victims are killed by an intimate partner.
– One in every three women in the world has experienced sexual, physical, emotional or other abuse in her lifetime

– The female adult employment-to-population rate is the lowest (below 30%) in the Middle East North Africa region

To move on from these situations, we should of course on the one hand focus on women, educating, protecting and empowering them, as well as providing them with safe shelters where they know they can go when they need to. However, it is important that women, and especially women in decision making positions, don’t keep only talking to one another, in small groups of already convinced women. Reaching out and involving men in order to bring behavioural change within societies is paramount to the success of women’s empowerment.
Behind the aforementioned figures lie enormous amounts of sufferings and grief, trauma and hurt, feelings that it would be all too easy to ignore. It is always comfortable to argue that the status of women is not that bad and that we should just stop moaning. People who usually hold this argument are usually people who are not suffering, and who would be quite happy to maintain a status quo that favours them. It took dedicated and bold people to speak up and act to win rights such as the right to vote for women, it took concerned scientists to improve women’s health, commitment to implement the Universal Declaration of Human Rights basic statement that each and every human being is equal before the law, women included. Change just doesn’t happen overnight while doing nothing.
All we really want is a more equal society where a human being is not disqualified from the first day on because of a chromosome. Said like this, it doesn’t seem to be such a crazy bet now does it?
You can follow the ETF conference on Women and Work on Twitter @europa_etf and @XCulture
You can also follow the participants on Twitter @linabenmhenni, @Lara_Aha 

Please check as well my fellow Women and Work Member @Selnadeem http://ow.ly/1fbW8 


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