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Under the purple sky

Gender equality, inclusion, and the fight against stereotypes are not slogans from TV commercials but processes implemented here and now. TWOST: Training without stereotypes is a project that raises awareness about the importance of gender balance in youth organizations, sports clubs, and informal groups. But how much longer will we build equality?

The European Institute for Gender Equality estimates that it will take nearly three generations to achieve gender equality at the current pace…but the situation with pandemic could slow down this “progress” even further. Conversations around gender equality usually focus on the significant barriers to resources and opportunities. Especially barriers that only women face. And, as a result of this focus, there is a pervasive myth that gender equality will only benefit women. Yet, contrary to this myth, gender parity benefits everyone. The concept of gender equality should be understood as an equal opportunity for both males and females in this article.

Why do gender barriers still exist? How do we ensure we are creating a fair and equitable future for us all? Many questions don’t have clear answers, but promoting male-female equality is a fair and right thing to do. Studies show that gender equality is good for countries and their economies, societies, and businesses. It significantly improves life satisfaction, which is associated with better physical, psychological and behavioral health. Equal treatment for both genders has positive impacts on GDP per capita. In companies, promoting equality increases employee satisfaction. When satisfaction is higher, employee turnover is lower, companies spend less time recruiting, and what is most important, employees are more productive. Gender equality is also suitable for men! When there is gender equality, men have more freedom about how they express themselves. They are healthier and simply happier. They smoke less, drink less, use drugs less often. They are less likely to appear in the emergency room, but they are more likely to do routine checkups. They visit the therapist less often and are less likely to commit suicide. The data presented by psychologists and sociologists are pretty convincing. Having an even playing field for all is a win-win game that rewards us with wealth, opportunities, and happiness.

Training without stereotypes (TWOST) is an excellent example of how the Erasmus+ KA2 project can help to promote gender equality. The project aims to prevent gender-based discrimination towards youth and support the fight against stereotypes and gender violence among young people in Europe by piloting innovative, digital resources. It encourages the active citizenship of youngsters, explains how to avoid the gender self-segregation phenomena, and promotes mutual respect among genders. TWOST is addressed not only to partner organizations but all interested stakeholders. “The intellectual outputs of the project are designed and translated into various languages. It will take upon not just those participating countries but also hopefully other countries around Europe and maybe even further.”, explains Andrej Naumovski, a researcher in TWOST project and project coordinator in Volunteers Centre Skopje. What is the most considerable success of the project so far? “First and foremost, it is the persistence of developing the project in these times and managing all the challenges we face during the worldwide pandemic. The bare fact that the project is still ongoing and will have the final output is a significant success for all partnering organizations. Also, more and more organizations, sports clubs, and informal groups are joining in the project, and hopefully, this process will not stop. A group of interested organizations will continue to rise in the future.” says Andrej.

The primary outcome of TWOST is an online self-assessment tool to develop personalized guidance towards gender awareness, with a particular focus on analyzing strategic areas within the organization such as HR management, leadership, coaching, mentoring, youth animation, stereotypes in communication activities, gender-based violence, and participation. “I recommend that every organization try to check the survey in a self-assessment tool to see where they are and do whatever they can to get to the golden standards of gender equality.” encourages AndrejAll countries should dedicate more time to equality and put more thought into raising their standards on gender equality. Volunteers Centre Skopje as a partner of TWOST project works hard to increase its gender equality standards, promote gender equality awareness, and hopefully pass all the gained knowledge to the local community. “It is quite a thing to bring the change and to do something better for all of us. It can start from one person, one organization, or one project such as TWOST. Hopefully, the project will develop and have a ripple effect on everything else.” adds Andrej.

The revolution for human equality has already started, but how fast we will see the change is up to all of us. If there are more and more projects like TWOST, the future looks exciting! We are one human race, after all…

Jolanta Ciopcińska

TWOST: Training without stereotypes project is financed by the Italian National Agency for Erasmus+ through the KA2 program.