Dear friends and colleagues,
TWe are now almost at the end of the first funding period as a Grundtvig4 network. From October 2003 to September 2006 all activities of the network had a reliable funding basis from which all members could benefit. At the same time members invested a lot of energies, commitment, time and resources in the growth, the networking and sustainability of DARE. The outcome is quite remarkable: a European network of education with quite a wide range of activities, a growing external recognition as well as a growing internal culture of communication.
We applied in March with 24 participating organisations for a second period of funding 2006-2009 after being approved with our pre-proposal, which means that a majority of DARE-members joined the project. In July / August we shall know if we succeeded and our proposal was convincing.
Our last General Assembly, held in Vilnius at 20 April, offered the opportunity to discuss the work plan in the framework of the project, which covers in principle all activities of DARE between 2006 and 2009. DARE will keep a similar rhythm like in the current period. Activities focus on the annual internal training meetings and the continuous work of special interest groups, completed by conferences with a more external outreach and addressing the professional and political public as audience. A major issue of the General Assembly was the approval of two new members, AONTAS, the Irish Association of Adult Education and the Latvian Adult Education Development Centre. Now DARE has members in all Baltic countries and with the Irish partner a closer connection to Western Europe. We welcome our new members and are looking forward to enhance the professional dialogue as well as practical cooperation in projects and joint ventures.
The topic of the DARE meeting in Vilnius referred to Gender Mainstreaming in EDC and HRE and Gender Democracy. 30 participants attended the meeting although not equally represented in terms of a gender balance. A majority of women was obvious. The seminar started with a lecture on gender policies and current developments in the Lithuanian society under gender perspectives. Two gender trainers, a man and a woman, facilitated the seminar in workshops and with theoretical input. In addition two colleagues, Frank Elbers and Andrea Storck, offered a short workshop with practical exercises. There are two main outcomes of the meeting:
The Lithuanian Centre for Human Rights hosted us and organised the meeting. We have to thank especially Gerdiminas Andriukaitis who prepared the event in spite of being in the middle of his final exams.
Another important event was the evaluation conference of EYCE, the European Year of Citizenship through Education 2005, initiated by the Council of Europe and organised in Sinaia, Romania from 27-28 April 2006. Learning and Living Democracy: the way ahead was the motto and DARE was invited to take part in the consultations. The draft conclusions underlined the priority of EDC and HRE as an educational policy aim and the role of both in promoting social cohesion, equality, including gender equality, participation and intercultural dialogue. In parallel workshops participants discussed on achievements, difficulties and lessons for the future. Competencies for democratic citizenship and social inclusion, a new role and competencies of teachers and educational staff, democratic governance in education and youth participation have been the major topics. Although the life long learning perspective was emphasized as well as the complementarity of formal and non-formal education conclusions focused in the end on school education, teacher training and the whole setting of formal education. Participants were invited to put amendments to the draft conclusions. DARE were able to present the recommendations members discussed and approved in Vilnius.
The evaluation conference of the Council of Europe was another step forward for DARE to be recognized and to get involved in European educational policies. The meeting was an excellent opportunity to find allies and a platform in promoting EDC and HRE.
DAREs next activity in cooperation with CRED and in particular Corina Leca will be in Bucharest from 1-4 June 2006. It is the last joint meeting of the two working groups during this period. The evaluation meeting of the current Grundtvig 4 project will take place from 3-6 August in Germany, in cooperation with the Sonnenberg-Kreis and the place where all activities started almost 4 years ago. We hope all of you find the time to come!
Gender: a social construction
The terms gender and sex are often considered covering the same significance. in fact the difference between the two terms is crucial to social and political theory. In such context, 'gender' is used to refer to social and cultural differences between men and women, the word 'sex' indicates the biological differences between men and women. That's why gender is called a social construction, mostly based on a stereotype estimation of 'male' and 'female' behavior. Feminist theories use this distinction to show that fysical and biological differences don't allow to make a difference in social roles and positions between women and men.
Wikipedia definition of gender as a social category
"Since the 1950s, the term gender has been increasingly used to distinguish a social role (gender role) and/or personal identity (gender identity) from biological sex. Sexologist John Money wrote in 1955, [t]he term gender role is used to signify all those things that a person says or does to disclose himself or herself as having the status of boy or man, girl or woman, respectively. It includes, but is not restricted to, sexuality in the sense of eroticism. Elements of such a role include clothing, speech patterns, movement and other factors not solely limited to biological sex.
There is debate over to what extent gender is a social construct and to what extent it is a biological construct. One point of view in the debate is social constructionism, which suggests that gender is entirely a social construct. Contrary to social constructionism is essentialism which suggests that it is entirely a biological construct. Others' opinions on the subject lie somewhere in between.
Gender associations are constantly changing as society progresses. For example, the color pink was considered masculine in the early 1900s and is now seen as feminine.
Much controversy exists over the extent to which gender roles are simply stereotypes, arbitrary social constructions, or natural innate differences."
Following a centre for woman's studies: The difference between gender and sex is analogous to culture and nature (...) Feminists have problematized the conception of gender; the ideals of what constitutes a man, a woman, feminine, or masculine are often defined according to norms of behavior, and serve as parameters of socially acceptable behavior. By contesting falsely constructed requirements of gender definitions, feminist hope to locate and remove distortions of gender.'
The Treaty for the Rights of Women (CEDAW) is the most authoritative UN human rights instrument to protect women from discrimination. It is the first international treaty to comprehensively address fundamental rights for women in politics, health care, education, economics, employment, law, property, and marriage and family relations. The Treaty consists a preamble and 30 articles, defining what constitutes discrimination against women. It also sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination. 'The Treaty requires regular progress reports from ratifying countries but it does not impose any changes in existing laws or require new laws of countries ratifying the treaty. It lays out models for achieving equality but contains no enforcement authority.'
The third Millennium Development Goal consists to 'eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education preferably by 2005, and at all levels by 2015.'
UNIFEM is 'the womens fund at the United Nations.It provides financial and technical assistance to innovative programmes and strategies to foster womens empowerment and gender equality'. UNIFEM is also charged with helping countries move forward on the Millennium Development Goals; it has the only specific mandate to advocate for gender equality. The fund assists efforts to monitor progress on the goals from a gender perspective, analyze steps to achieve them and spread awareness to encourage womens participation'.
UNDP Gender and Women's publications 'Gender mainstreaming' has been defined (in 1997) by the UN Economic and Social Council as a strategy for making women's as well as mens concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres so that women and men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated.'
UNDP promotes gender equality by 'gender mainstreaming'. The organisation's strategy has been designed to fully "integrate the promotion of women's empowerment and equality in the organization's core business. The strategy calls for gender mainstreaming to become everyone's job not the responsibility of a small number of specialists."
Gender Equality and the European Commission: "EU policy as regards equality between women and men takes a comprehensive approach which includes legislation, mainstreaming and positive actions. Financial support is also available via an action programme. The key objective is to eliminate inequalities and promote gender equality throughout the European Community in accordance with Articles 2 and 3 of the EC Treaty (gender mainstreaming) as well as Article 141 (equality between women and men in matters of employment and occupation) and Article 13 (sex discrimination within and outside the work place)."
Amnesty International has set out 15 steps to protect Women's Human Rights. Though women's human rights are protected in international law, still a lot of women suffer of violations of their rights. That's why Amnesty International started a campaign to protect women's human rights, which require specific action to protect women. They wrote down 15 recommendations for actions to be taken.
Sophia aims at promoting and developing feminist research and education, as well as research and teaching about women in Belgium. Sophia aims to show the scientific relevance of such research and training and that it has a role to play in elaborating policies that are favourable towards women.
Compiled by VORMEN, www.vormen.org
3. European Charter of Active Citizenship - Conference Vienna May 06
Active Citizenship Network - the European program of the Italian citizens' organisation Cittadinanzattiva - and FONDACA, the Active Citizenship Foundation, are implementing since June 2005 a project aiming at improving the European and national policies on civic activism through the definition of the rights and duties of civic participation with the support of the DG
Education and Culture and the Unicredito Italiano Group.
The main objective of the project is to draft and promote a European Charter of Active Citizenship based on the practical and theoretical knowledge of civic organizations.
The 22nd and the 23rd of May we will present and discuss the contents of the Charter with a large group of stakeholders on a Conference to be held in Vienna.
More information: www.activecitizenship.net
Cecília Fonseca, Active Citizenship Network / Cittadinanzattiva Onlus, Italy
4. DG EMPL published three calls for tender for project and studies on anti-discrimination
The Anti-Discrimination unit in DG EMPL has just published three calls for tender for projects and studies:
Study on a conceptual framework for the purpose of measuring progress in combating discrimination and promoting equality
Anti-discrimination and diversity training
Study on multiple discrimination in the European Union
5. Recommendations for an evaluation of the European Year of Citizenship through Education
The outcomes of the European Year of Citizenship through Education have to be compared with the objectives which have been put as a vision for learning and living democracy. Education for democratic citizenship and human rights has been announced to highlighting any educational system and explicitly as a challenge for any national and European educational policy. According to the Council of Europe Education for Democratic Citizenship (EDC) and Human Rights Education (HRE) contribute to social cohesion, to mutual understanding, to intercultural and interreligious dialogue. The twin fields of EDC and HRE promote the principle of equity of men and women and encourage harmonious, peaceful relationships between the people. They defend and develop a democratic society and culture.
These quotations of official documents describe an ambitious understanding of EDC and HRE and examine the high expectations connected with a comprehensive impact on society.
What is reality and what according to our view and experiences is left to be done?
Although the prerequisites at national level differ considerably with regard to institutional, structural and legislative frames, histories and traditions, the range of activities and programmes, recognition and impact there is - throughout Europe - an amazing commitment to promote EDC and HRE. In order to use these potentials and competences and to provide an educational environment that opens access to learning and living democracy to all parts of the population regardless of their age and educational background the conference made clear that it is necessary:
7. E-learning course in English and German: The European System of Human Rights Protection and Promotion
HREA will be offering a German version of its distance learning course "The European System of Human Rights Protection and Promotion in German this fall. Course instructor is Dr. Gerd Oberleitner, Lecturer at the University of Graz (Austria) and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Course description and application forms can be found at: http://www.hrea.org/courses/9D.html
The application deadline is 1 July 2006. The English version of the course will also be offered in the fall (http://www.hrea.org/courses/9E.html ).
Frank Elbers, HREA E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
8. Courses on active citizenship
The European Commission selects every year, through the Socrates National Agencies, a number of quality in-service training courses that are open to participants from all countries participating in the Socrates Programme. Applicants who are accepted to the course are entitled to receive a Grundtvig 3 or Comenius 2 grant that will cover all their travel, subsistence and participation costs. TEACh Teaching European Active Citizenship Courses (http://www.vnf.fi/teach_eu_com/) are eligible for such grants. Contact us or your Socrates National Agency for details.
Dates and Location of TEACh Courses (GRUNDTVIG/COMENIUS):
Fill in the on-line Application Form: http://www.vnf.fi/teach_eu_com/applicationform.php
Valentina Chanina, EAEA, Brussels, Belgium, email@example.com, www.eaea.org
9. What do young people think about democracy? Lets ask them!
The Welsh Assembly has finally put a date on the school councils legislation. By 1st November 2006 school council meetings will be taking place in every primary, secondary and special school in Wales. This is an exciting development. But, what do the people, who this strategy is trying to engage, think? I have recently carried out a survey of 150 young people across Wales asking them what skills they think they need to participate in democracy. 96 of them believe that standing for election in a school council is a good example of democracy so far so good. But, when asked what skills were necessary for them to participate in democracy the answers were far more telling.
Most of those questioned felt that communication skills were the most vital. Indeed two distinct personalities emerged from the responses. The first was the confident, self assured person who can express their own opinion eloquently. The second is the listener who collects opinions and makes compromises. Whilst its ideal that both these qualities can exist in one person the experience young people have of democracy is quite the opposite. They are told that democracy is about making collective decisions and compromises. The public face of government is eloquent orators expressing their own agendas with seemingly little concern for compromise or the opinions of others. The young people questioned were aware of the oftentimes confusing nature of democracy with on of the respondents citing;
For young people aware of the Iraq controversy facts are a fluid concept in governmental democracy and exist only to serve the agenda of the orator. There is no surprise then that young people are confused by what represents a good skill in democracy and one summed it up by responding
This simple response may be indicative of another trend which became apparent in the course of the research, that of issue politics. The same number of respondents who agreed that school councils were good examples of democracy asserted that Wearing a wristband or a t-shirt supporting a cause and Taking part in a demonstration were good expressions of democracy. When questioned a further 15% believed that involvement with and support of charities was important in a democracy. It is possible that one issue organisations and events offer the humanitarian side of the masses taking into account the beliefs and values of the masses and acting upon them. Another possibility is that charity awareness raising events are consistently more young-person friendly. A good recent example of this is Live8.Although, six months on, in a classroom in South-Wales no-one could explain exactly what Live8 was for and no-one recalled the G8 summit there was a consensus that it had something to do with poverty in Africa. One of the class even decided that Bob Geldof should tell Tony Blair and George Bush how to deal with Africa! There is obviously still some way to go as clearly none of the students had fully grasped the Live8 message, despite a plethora of Make Poverty History bands, but the core of the message had been retained.
Interestingly this campaigning and critical element goes against the most worrying results in the survey that you need to conform and be intelligent in order to make a personal contribution to democracy. By far the largest number of responses was of things you need to know before you can participate. Interestingly a lot of the young people questioned felt they didnt know the systems and practices in their own schools let alone in governments in Wales and across the world. Several asked for An introduction to politics at school and in addition felt that languages and social, historical and political knowledge of the world was necessary before you can contribute. Whilst feeling that this level of knowledge is necessary is a threatening and prevents young people getting involved it is not as disturbing as the responses which suggested conforming was more important. Unfortunately this emphasises a trend for well-behaved bright youngsters to be chosen as school council representatives.
The participation strategy therefore needs to do a lot more than establish school councils in every school. Instead it needs to challenge attitudes and values, allowing the students to participate despite their academic or behavioural performance. There is a further challenge for schools to deliver democracy teaching in a manner which shows democracy as the multi-faceted discipline that it is. This survey alone has shown democracy to be at once a set of skills, a body of knowledge, a set of attitudes and values and also a variety of actions. Providing students with the skills to access democracy is the only way that the Participation Strategy can hope to become a successful reality.
Kate Wolstenholme, Assistant Education Officer, CEWC-Cymru
Remarks by Felisa Tibbitts, Human Rights Education Associates (HREA), prepared for the Evaluation Conference of the European Year of Citizenship through Education, 27-28 April 2006, Sinaia, Romania
Honorable state representations, Council members, colleagues and friends,
As my organisation, Human Rights Education Associates, is an international NGO that is focused on human rights education and learning, I think I should like to focus my main comments from a human rights perspective. I understand that I am supposed to offer some provocative ideas, so this is my aim.
My first set of comments concerns the topic of this panel, which is democracy learning. Last year I conducted a literature review on human rights education in schools. I found that human rights education and the associated concept of global citizenship are linked with three related practices: the promotion of the idea of a shared humanity, a critique of state power, and skill development related to political action. We should be careful to retain these elements in upcoming conversations regarding the promotion of education for democracy and human rights. I elaborate on these briefly now.
Promotion of a shared humanity is accomplished in human rights education teaching materials through the use of case study examples that present the experiences of others suffering from human rights violations. Vulnerable groups already included in HRE materials used in schools include children in armed conflict or forced labour situations, girls and women, refugees, poor people and minorities, among others. Education for democracy means sensitisation to those whose human rights have been severely compromised. Creating a sense of shared humanity is not merely a matter of values, but also the promotion of care and empathy, and even an allowance for outrage.
A second feature of global citizenship promoted by HRE is a critique of power. The human rights framework calls us to hold states and duty-bearers accountable for realising these standards. This awareness cannot be naïve. If we are to educate for democracy and human rights, we need to create awareness about state power and authority both formal and tacit. Without understanding how power operates, citizens cannot affect how it is exercised and distributed.
My final point regarding democracy learning and human rights is skill development for social action. Taking action can involve not only voting and electoral engagement but also community activism. Education for democracy and human rights must not be afraid to address social change both historically and prospectively. Those of us promoting this form of citizenship education should have special sensitivity to those individuals and groups who are disenfranchised or for whom political processes and social structures have worked less well.
Rights-based approach to Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights
My second set of comments is in relation to what I shall call the rights-based approach to education for democratic citizenship and human rights. This approach calls us to not only look at the goals and outcomes of our work but how the work itself is organised and carried out according to human rights principles. I will try to apply this briefly to our collaborative work here through a series of questions.
Principle 1. Express linkages to rights
Questions for us:
Are our educational efforts linked expressively to human rights? Do these efforts include the full range of human rights? Do the human rights that are explored in depth have genuine relevance for needs and issues in our communities, or can these connections be made? Are we willing to move beyond our personal zone of comfort in linking our work to human rights values?
Principle 2. Accountability
Do those of us who are government representatives or employed by the state see ourselves as accountable for ensuring education for democracy and human rights? In what ways are we accountable? How can rights-holders ensure such accountability?
Principle 3. Empowerment and participation
Let us think for a moment of those we feel responsible towards in terms of guaranteeing education for democracy and human rights. Have we incorporated the ideas of all those who are affected by our policies and activities? Who is not present at this gathering that has a stake in our conversation? If they are not here, or not involved in conversations back home, how can we bring them to the table? How can we facilitate their points of view on the when, how, who and what of education for democracy and human rights?
Principle 4. Non-discrimination and attention to vulnerable groups
Finally, and in relation to the last point, who are the groups that are least likely at the present time to benefit from our programming, and how can we help to ensure their participation? The very groups that enjoy the fewest benefits of citizenship the marginalised, the vulnerable, the discriminated against are the ones who will benefit most from our educational efforts. How can we identify them, reach out to them, and create educational programmes that are genuinely meaningful for them?
||This newsletter is edited by the DARE project, 'Democracy and Human Rights Education in Adult Learning', which receives funding from the European Community (Socrates programme, Grundtvig action).|
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