Amid the discussions on the new education laws, the Coalition for Gender Equality and other non-governmental organizations and university representatives have sent a letter to Minister Ligia Deca requesting the involvement of the Ministry of Education in the promotion of gender equality, non-discrimination of women and the prevention of gender-based violence.
What sparked this demand is the fact that a support material for teachers in pre-university education for teaching and integrating elements of gender equality in various school subjects was, shortly after its launch in September 2022, the target of attacks from some fundamentalist-religious conservative groups. These groups are also known to be against sex education in schools, against the Istanbul Convention on violence against women and domestic violence, against vaccines and against 5G technology.
The NGOs request the support of the ministry for a better integration of the principle of gender equality in pre-university education, both in terms of the content of school programs and accredited textbooks, as well as the initial and continuous training on this topic for teachers in the whole country. Our letter lists the normative acts and international conventions that highlight the fundamental role of education in combating gender stereotypes, promoting equality and preventing and combating gender-based violence. The letter also address the commitments assumed by the Government of Romania in the recently approved National Strategy regarding the promotion of equal opportunities and treatment between women and men and the prevention and combating of domestic violence for the period 2022-2027.
"Both the National Strategy and Council of Europe's Gender Equality Strategy 2018-2023 reinforce the connection between gender stereotypes and gender-based violence, domestic violence and violence against girls and women, as well as the need to fight these stereotypes through education. The school must become a space that promotes egalitarian, nonviolent, respect-based communicational and relational values and practices for students," the letter states.
The letter also stresses out the need for schools to protect sexual minorities in the face of discrimination, bullying and violence. We cite the decision no. 907 of 16.12.2020 of the Constitutional Court of Romania responding to a law project that wanted to prohibit the approach of sex being distinct from gender and any discussions about gender identity in all educational environments.
Through this letter, the civil society is drawing attention to the fact that attacks by ultra-conservative groups discourage teachers and schools from addressing topics related to equal opportunities and combating discrimination. It has become urgent and necessary that the Ministry of Education positions itself unequivocally in favour of gender equality and equal opportunities in education.
Schools play an essential role in combating gender roles, gender stereotypes, gender-based violence and discrimination, being the main environment that ensures the transmission among future generations of the principles of gender equality and equal opportunities.
The project "EGALIS: Gender equality through social change and education" is developed by the Partnership for Equality Center, in partnership with the Front Association, AnA - the Scientific Society for Feminist Analysis, ACTEDO - the Action Center for Equality and Rights Association Man, PLURAL Association and SEX vs The STORK Association, with financial support from Active Citizens Fund Romania, programme funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA Grants Grants 2014 -2021.
The aim of the project is to generate changes in the perception of young people and teachers and to influence decision-makers in order to develop institutional policies on gender equality, through education and awareness aimed at young people and teachers, as well as through watchdog actions and advocacy .
The Active Citizens Fund Romania program is financed by the EEA Grants 2014-2021. The overall objective of the Grants is to reduce economic and social disparities and strengthen bilateral relations between the 15 beneficiary states and the donor states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway). The program is administered by the consortium composed of Fundația pentru Dezvoltarea Societății Civile, Fundația pentru Parteneriat, Centrul de Resurse pentru Comunitățile de Romi, Fundația PACT and Frivillighet Norge, which acts as a Fund Operator designated by the FMO – Financial Mechanism Office for EEA and Norway Grants. Active Citizens Fund Romania aims to strengthen civil society and active citizenship and increase the capacity of vulnerable groups. With a total allocation of EUR 46,000,000, the program aims to develop the long-term sustainability and capacity of the civil society sector, intensifying its role in promoting democratic participation, active citizenship and human rights while strengthening bilateral relations with its donor states Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. For more information about Active Citizens Fund in Romania, please visit www.activecitizensfund.ro. For more information about EEA and Norwegian Grants, visit www.eeagrants.ro.
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