The Euro Mediterranean Charter for Equality of Women and Men in Local Life (or EuroMed Charter) was formally launched in Madrid (Spain) last November. This is the fruit of a 42-month-long cooperation between local governments and civil society organisations working on gender equality in the Southern neighbourhood.
The conference was hosted by the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces (FEMP), PLATFORMA partner. Mireia Espiau, Equality expert from the Association of Basque Municipalities, spoke on behalf of the president of CEMR’s Standing Committee for Equality, Ibon Urib, who was invited to share the experiences of the European Charter for Equality.
The preparation of the EuroMed Charter, led by the Standing Conference of Local Authorities of the Mediterranean (COPPEM) and supported by the European Union, took place through local roundtable exchanges. Partners from the Mediterranean basin, ranging from Spain to Tunisia, participated in the project and contributed to drafting the Charter text.
Local and regional governments and civil society organisations exchanged more than 80 good practices over the course of the roundtable meetings. The good practices have been collected and will be available via an interactive database for sharing good practices that promote equality, called “wikipractice”.
The Euro Mediterranean Charter, inspired by the European Charter for Equality
, builds on the basic principles of equality of women and men in local life and presents concrete ways for local authorities to advance equality in their territories.
“There is a strong symbolic bond between the two Charters and this is a moment to relaunch the momentum of the original initiative and its underlying principles. The Charters challenge a common enemy: discrimination,” underlined Adly Hussein, the First Vice-President of COPPEM.
Why a Euro Mediterranean Charter?
The new text addresses some issues of specific urgency in the Southern Neighbourhood such as early and forced marriages and so-called “honour killings”. Many of the countries participating in the project are undergoing a challenging period of transition that has a particular impact on women. For example, in Egypt, 37.3% of women are illiterate and “at least 2 million women (out of a total population of 82 million) do not have personal identification documents” which impacts their ability to work, vote or even have a personal bank account.
David Lucas Parrón, President of FEMP’s Commission for International Relations, reminded that gender equality is a priority on the Spanish association’s agenda. Its Secretary General, Juan Ávila Francés, emphasised the obligation of local governments in Europe and in the Mediterranean zone to cooperate with each other in development of municipalities for the benefit of citizens.
Sharing good practices
Several good practices identified in the course of the project were presented by a panel of local elected officials. Ana María Besalduch, Mayor of Sant Mateu (Castellón, Spain) and member of FEMP’s Commission for International relations, shared the measures that her municipality has undertaken to achieve gender equality, such as offering affordable training courses to improve CVs (90% of training participants are women), providing care services through elderly homes, outpatient clinics, and day cares so that women can continue their education and/or work, and positive discrimination in public. For example, in Palermo (Italy), the working hours in the public sector are organised to balance professional and social life (i.e. no late evening meetings, etc.).