The network Women and Europe – Providing an alternative to EU discussions
By Stine Bosse, Member of the executive board EM Denmark and President of the Network Women and Europe.
Let’s face it, as a human being we can’t do everything! There are simply too many things to do and too little time. Sadly, this also rings true in our approach to politics, with many of us, especially women, not engaging in EU discussions. The question is why? How can we change this and thus create a broader EU debate?
We want everybody to take part in the EU legislative process and to have their say in debates about the EU. That is why the Danish European Movement established ‘The Network Women and Europe’. The Network serves as a place where women and men have a forum to discuss EU matters in a different way. This network is facilitating a new way of approaching EU discussions. The idea is to have a place for discussions where citizens have an opportunity to make their statement even if it is just to raise a question. It is a forum for a new and very low key way of approaching EU debate.
Women and Girls
This network wants to understand why women do not contribute in EU debates or simply put: why women do not share the same levels of engagement in the EU as men do? We think this is all about communication. That is why this network is using a more informal way of communicating in order to spark a more genuine interest in global and European challenges. For instance members of the network visit women around Denmark to talk about their everyday life and experience of everyday Europe. After all it is two sides of the same coin.
Promoting by making it local
Our main focus is to show that the EU is a matter of our everyday life. From waking up in the morning until we climb back into bed in the evening, the EU has something to say. In order to do this, the Network Women and Europe does outreach work to meet women and girls and talk about the EU but from their perspective. In this way we purposefully invert perspectives on the EU; rather than trying to understand EU processes, we want to show how the EU tries to understand us and pays attention to our everyday life. The EU is not far away in Brussels; the EU is here, so whatever the topic is, from make-up, to pensions, citizens’ rights to custody, the EU is present, which also means that we as women, men, girls and boys already meet the EU in our everyday life.
What do we do?
The network undertakes various activities in order to increase engagement and interest in EU affairs amongst women. For example, on International Women’s Day 2015 the network held a meeting focussing on Women, Network and Career. It was an opportunity to see how networks across social borders and national borders can help women improve their career. Once again the setup was informal; the audience represented a broad segment of Danish women; from high profiled careers in private or political institutions to kindergarten teachers and students. In the election campaign for the European Parliament elections 2014 we also visited nursing schools and schools for social and health care assistants where we had great discussions and dialogue with the students. These meetings, and many others, show that there is an interest from women to discuss these matters. We need to talk about the EU in different contexts and show that it is a place for and with everybody.
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