I stepped into the nice historic building of Europe House in London feeling excited that I would meet over 60 wonderful University Women from all over Europe. What is this Meet and Greet event after all? Is it networking, sharing interest between UWE members, finding more about UWE plans? Little by little, everything revealed to me.
After Edith Lommerse – UWE President and Gloria Banner – BFWG President welcomed us, we could start with the program, a mix between cultural and action oriented themes.
It was Anne Negre’s turn to introduce us to her work as a Gender Expert for Ithe NGO Conference of the Council of Europe. She used a specific vocabulary with words such us “gender stereotypes, sexism and violence against women, parity etcetera. The world of Human rights has its own vocabulary. Anne told us to keep an open eye on Gender Equality Strategy and make sure we advocate for it. The major achievements, so far: the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings and Istanbul Convention for Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence constitute a legal framework aiming a change in gender relations, women’s empowerment and abolishing negative traditional gender stereotypes. Anne emphasized. The questions were directed to the place of the UK in the EU. Is there anything to be done? A nice discussion ensued.
And then the meeting became more interactive when Edith invited us join a debate. The topic was put forward earlier in the discussion and amounted : “Do we need men in our organizations?” To make it visible which side the women were on the room was divided in two sides: YES or NO.
I must admit I was on the Yes side: “We need them, we educate men, we are mothers, sisters, wives,we evolve and build bridges, we need balance” and of course we could easily notice that a man was present among us. After several arguments the main group insisted: “we need only women associations”. The dynamics between men and women are strong and things going as they usually go, men would end up taking the lead and what would that do to us? Next question was “Do we support women enough? “NO, not enough” said the majority, there is much to improve.
Lunching was a good occasion to socialize, sharing ideas or business cards, taking some more photos or admiring the exhibition area from Europe House.
Probably it’s quite unusual to listen both English – Italian reinterpretation of the Greek tragedy played by two young students directed if I may say so by Writer Ros Belford, University of Catania along with VicePresident Elena Flavia Castagnino Berlinghieri under the Project inspired by UNESCO “Gender Equality: Heritage and Creativity”, absolutely out of the box perspective.
But how can UWE support Gender Equality and what does it need? Right in time then came the Action plan 2015-2018 of UWE presented by the President herself, emphasising the role of communication and cooperation in the Board, Board CER’s like me, between NFA’s and partner organizations. The themes are: Support of Istanbul Convention, more women in leadership positions, increasing networking capacity, engage and invest in next generation and a sound basis of UWE.
And of course English Tea (my favourite) Break and last moments on the agenda, introduction next UWE events: Bid AGM 2016 Winchester and AGM 27-30 August 2015, Utrecht, Netherlands, theme is the Art of Networking, Skills, Styles and Values. How do we use those mechanism to the advantage of women and girls? How do we create an atmosphere of support and learning among women starting in our own NFA’s? These and more other questions will be discussed while discover wonderful places in Netherlands. A beautiful coincidence: Cultural Utrecht Early Music Festival. Thank you Eileen Focke Bakker for making me dream with open eyes.
Next day at the Italian Cultural Institute, young determined women Siobhan Gardiner from BFWG gave us a talk on her fascinating journey from school to her current status as BBSRC (Biotechnological and Biological Science Research Council)-Unilever CASE (Collaborative Awards in Science and Engineering) PhD Studentship, a four year award, at Cranfield University and of being STEMNET ambassador. I was really impressed to find out she founded her own Female Researcher Network (FERN) in 20l4.
Then, in a very high academic fluent English Dr. Adalgisa Giorgio, University of Bath capted the audience in one hour speech about her work on Italian women writers in her astonishing lecture “Gender and Generations in European Women Writers”.
After a refreshment coffee break and Italian sweets we’re back in the conference room to participate actively at the workshop demonstration “The most important woman painter of Early Modern Europe: Artemisia Gentileschi introduced to the Italian students through CLIL methodology” by Elena Flavia Castagnino B., UWE, and Elena Trincanato, University of Bath. According to this term : CLIL-Content language integrated lerning, one language which is not the native of the student is used to learn content and language in an integated away. Can we study History of Art as well as two community languages as means of cross – cultural communication? Challenging task, most of us were not familiar with Italian language, we played the students working in groups looking for the right answers.
And our stimulating event came to an end, we have to be thankful to British Federation Women Graduated for making this possible in London. Now it’s evaluation time for UWE and I wonder how would Meet and Greet be better shaped in the future?
Roxana Elena Petrescu
UWE PR Coordinator
CER AFU Romania