Education trade unions should design and monitor explicit gender equality policies for the teaching profession, concluded the participants of the first regional seminar of the ETUCE project Social dialogue and gender equality: Empowering education trade unions to address gender equality in the teaching profession through social dialogue, which took place in Rome on 14-15 January 2019.

All 45 participants, hailing from Albania, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Slovenia, Spain and Turkey, had the opportunity to engage with fellow trade unionists on topical matters such as horizontal and vertical segregation in the education sector, work-life balance challenges, the gender pay gap in the teaching profession and gender-based violence in the workplace by way of panel discussions, presentations, working groups and practical exercises. Participants shared examples of actions undertaken within their respective unions to address these difficulties, such as for example, how to establish a gender equality department within trade unions. Likewise, participants collaborated to come up with inspiring action plan measures, including gender quotas for head teacher recruitment drives and a campaign to promote the presence of men in the teaching profession.

Based on the project’s online survey which was conducted among ETUCE members, project researchers, Martina Weber and Inga Pavlovaite, reported that only 60% of trade unions have a department or individuals dealing specifically with gender equality issues and that just 40% indicated they had internal gender equality polices in place. A presentation of the European Context was also given by Anne Bergheim Nègre, Vice-President in charge of Equality in Conference of INGOs, Council of Europe, who provided insights into the mechanisms used by the Council of Europe to tackle issues such as gender-based violence and the under-representation of women in decision-making positions, and praised ETUCE for its exemplary political demands in this sphere.

Given the location of this training workshop, specific challenges facing educators in the Italian education system were presented by Sylvia Liuti, FORMA.Azione, and representatives of Italian education trade unions UIL-SCUOLA and CISL-S, which included a lack of investment and resources in equal opportunities, gender stereotyping, and psychological and physical abuse in schools. Moreover, it was emphasised that training curricula and gender culture classes for pupils are urgently needed to overcome stereotypes in Italy.

Susan Flocken, European Director, stated: “Establishing equality departments within trade unions is a  first step in taking a lead in promoting gender equality in the teaching profession. For sustainable change, gender policies are monitored and implemented in order to make gender equality a reality!”

The next regional seminars are going to take place in Vilnius (25-26 February 2019) and in Munich (28-29 March 2019). The project final conference will be held in Bucharest in September 2019.