„I strongly believe that advancing gender equality in all contexts is a driver of progress and I salute the initiative of the Civil Society Development Foundation and Frivillighet Norge to open a discussion about human rights from a gender equality perspective. Through the EEA and Norway Grants, Norway is successfully cooperating with Romania in several key areas in society. Most of our endeavors are aiming, in particular, to ensure that human rights are equally applied, that all people are equal before the law, that all voices are heard, and that no one is left out.” H.E., Ms. Siri Barry, the Norwegian Ambassador in Bucharest.
This was the message that opened the international thematic event „Human rights from a gender equality perspective” attended by 22 participants from 22 organizations from Romania and Norway.
The event took place in Bucharest between 20-21 January 2022 and it was organized by the Civil Society Development Foundation and the Norwegian organization Frivillighet Norge under the Fund for Bilateral Relations, part of the Active Citizens Fund Romania program, which aims to strengthen bilateral relations between Romania and the Donor States Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
The activities and methods used during the two days’ workshop were designed to facilitate a better understanding of how Norwegian entities work in the field of gender equality and to contribute to the empowerment of Romanian organizations to sustainably include elements related to gender equality in their current practices. The event was addressed to civil society organizations that implement projects aimed at combatting gender-based violence and providing support to survivors of gender-based violence, advocating for gender equality, education and social change for gender equality, increasing women’s role in the decision-making process, projects financed by the Active Citizens Fund Romania program.
Romania ranks 25th in the EU on the Gender Equality Index 2021, with a score 13.5 points below the EU’s score. Several challenges persist concerning gender equality in areas connected to health, decision-making positions across the political, economic, and social spheres, or allocation of time spent doing care and domestic work and social activities. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic brings new challenges, especially for women, as well as for policymakers and civil society actors involved in combating this phenomenon as this form of violence has increased since the beginning of 2020, according to data from the National Agency for Equal Opportunities. Needless to say, gender-based violence is a violation of human rights.
Starting from these premises, the participants shared ideas and best practices on how these challenges can be tackled by civil society organizations which have a significant role in alleviating some of these issues. Experts from Norway shared their experiences and led working sessions on issues related to gender equality, Norway is among the countries that have a clear set of laws and procedures regarding gender equality. Among the experts from Norway present at the event, Grete Herlofson has worked with national and international issues related to gender equality as part of her experience as the general secretary of the Norwegian Women’s Medical Association and department director in the Norwegian Red Cross. Ivana Suboticki is a researcher within the Department for Interdisciplinary Studies of Culture, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). Her main research interests are related to studying inclusion practices in research and higher education, technology development, and broader energy transitions. Her current research is focused on gender balance in higher education institutions in Norway. Most important, during the two days, people discussed how methods and good practices on gender equality successfully implemented in Norway can be adapted to the Romanian context and how Romanian civil society organizations can become more focused and capacitated to address gender equality issues.
„NGOs have a continuous obligation to develop a society that is open and inclusive. Gender equality is identified as one of the UN sustainability goals, and many Norwegian NGOs have been on the front line, fighting for gender equality throughout our history. We are happy to exchange our knowledge and experience with Romanian NGOs”, said General Secretary of Frivillighet Norge, Stian Slotterøy Johnsen.