The first institutional workshop for the TARGET Project was held at the Ecole Central in Marseille on the 23rd of January, 2018 and organized by the RMEI network gathering 100 universities in 16 Mediterranean countries. The goals of the meeting were to:
(1) present the activities of RMEI partner universities
(2) to create a working group within RMEI
(3) to reflect on the connection of global challenges and sustainability with gender equality
(4) to begin to think about a RMEI gender equality strategy and get feedback from the members of RMEI according to their experiences with gender equality policies in research.
The workshop was part of the audit process and attended by representatives from Egypt, France, Greece, Italy, Morocco and Spain. The audit consists of collecting quantitative and qualitative data on gender issues (sex disaggregated data on students, staff, management, gender studies, gender policies) within the RMEI universities. To achieve this goal we adapted the CESAER gender equality survey specifically for the RMEI network and distributed it to member universities. Based on the CESAER survey our survey covered the following themes:
- The organisational structure for GE
- Gender Equality Plans, implementation and monitoring
- Initiatives and measures supporting Gender Equality
- Statistics on top management, academic staff, students, projects
- Examples of best practice, institutional change and next steps
During the meeting some preliminary results were discussed. Participants also presented the situation of gender equality in their universities and different gender equality initiatives that their universities are developing. For example, Fatma Ashour from the University of Cairo highlighted an award winning anti- harassment initiative that her university has developed. It has formed a unit to combat violence against women, providing its activists with psychological and legal training regarding dealing with harassment complaints.
Anastasia Zabaniotou mentioned that the Aristotle University in Greece, is very active in organising workshops on anti-harassment and also inter-departmental courses with introductions to gender studies. Anastasia Zabaniotou also spoke about the interrelations of environment, technology and gender, especially in Engineering Schools and she mentioned the Center for space, environment and technology and gender, that was created in the Engineering School of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (she was founder member) and stressed the importance of creating a vision of RMEI towards Sustainable Development Goals achievement related to Global Challenges, Environment and Gender equity.
Amaia Lusa presented the UPC’s third gender equality plan (2016-2020), including its mission, strategic lines and objectives and its workplan and her colleague Irene Jorge at the UPC presented TARGET’s sister project GEECCO in which the UPC is a partner.
RMEI members highlighted the importance of starting a dialogue and creating activities by the Mediterranean young students of the GAMe network which is the network of young ambassadors for the Mediterranean, belonging to RMEI. Massimo Guarascio presented the survey on gender issues created by GAMe.
The institutional workshop also acted as a forum to set up the RMEI gender equality working group. The working group will be formed by:
- Anastasia Zabaniotou, TARGET RMEI Co-ordinator, RMEI board member and professor at Aristotle University, Greece.
- Olivier Boiron, General Delegate of RMEI, professor at Ecole Centrale Marseille, France.
- Massimo Guarascio, professor at Sapienza University of Rome, GAMe/RMEI, Italy.
- Mara Lombardi, Sapienza University of Rome, President of CAD Engineering of Security, DICMA.
- Fatma Ashour, RMEI board member, professor faculty of engineering, University of Cairo, Egypt.
- Ibtissam Medarhi, professor at Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Rabat (ENSMR), Gender equality at ENSMR, Marocco.
- Khalid Najib, professor at Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Rabat (ENSMR).
- Amaia Lusa, professor at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain.
- Irene Jorge, European Projects Office, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain.
- Juan Jesús Perez, professor at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain.
It is open to other members and is supported by Maria Caprile and Rachel Palmén, Notus, Barcelona, Spain.
During the meeting Professor Don Huisingh, who was the invited keynote speaker, then facilitated a reflection on the connection of global challenges and sustainability with gender equality, i.e. why and how can we creatively change gender competition to foster collaborative synergies for a more sustainable future. Particularly pertinent to the TARGET project was the question: what makes an effective change agent? This part of the workshop provided an initial space for the RMEI gender equality working group to think about sustainability and gender and may feed into the gender equality mission statement of RMEI.
Participants also reflected on the challenges that the project faces like the complexity of establishing and maintaining an active working group, the different cultural and political contexts as well as involving top-management. The following challenges were particularly highlighted: those arising from the differences of RMEI members to transfer gender equality plans and the importance of considering the diverse cultural and political contexts of member universities.