Standing Committee for Equality 2020: invest in inclusive and diverse education for the good of society


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Equality experts from ETUCE member organisations gathered in Brussels on 27-28 February 2020 for a fruitful meeting of our Standing Committee for Equality. The Standing Committee for Equality is an advisory body to the ETUCE Committee, which meets once a year to exchange experiences and guide our work on the promotion of equal opportunities in education.

Under the slogan “Diversity and Inclusion: New Challenges and next steps for progress”, members discussed digitalisation and climate change, cuts in public funding, the rise of populism, racism and xenophobia, increasing political pressure on teachers and unions, and the impact of these developments on equality, diversity and inclusion.

One major focus of the meeting was the finalisation of the upcoming ETUCE Action Plan for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. This Action Plan will present a comprehensive long-term strategy for ensuring equality, inclusion and non-discrimination in education and society, based on concrete actions which  ETUCE member organisations can apply in their own work. It will also facilitate the international exchange of information and good practices on how education trade unions can promote equality, diversity and inclusion in the teaching profession and wider society in Europe. The participants split into smaller groups for detailed and productive debates about the content of the Action Plan, then came together to compile the outcomes. Finally, they discussed strategies to disseminate the Action Plan and to ensure a stronger focus on equality and inclusion in trade unions’ work.

ETUCE Standing Committee for Equality — 27-28 February, Brussels

During a panel discussion on the link between political discourses and inclusion, speakers agreed that the lack of political will and public funding are key reasons for persisting inequalities. Standing Committee members from the UK, Poland and Turkey described the consequences of political developments such as funding cuts, the rise of right-wing populist parties and the repression of teachers on equality and inclusion in their national education systems. Annet de Vroey from the EU Agency on Special Needs and Inclusive Education presented the policy goals and factors which help create an inclusive education system. She stressed the importance of inclusive education as an investment for a more inclusive society as a whole.

Furthermore, Gabriela Sancho Mena, Regional Coordinator from the EI Latin America region, illustrated the difficult situation for women workers and trade unionists in Latin America. They have to deal with persisting gender stereotypes, violence, a high level of inequality and male-dominated trade unions. She presented strategies from the Latin American Education Women Workers Network to create more equality and inclusion and to fight discrimination, such as pushing trade unions to create gender departments and to gender mainstream their policies.

As a guest at the meeting, Esther Lynch, Deputy General Secretary at ETUC, presented the priorities and targets of the ETUC Action Programme 2019-2023 regarding the work on equality and inclusion and ETUC’s work with the new European Commission.